In conversation with veteran actor Puneet Issar on his play on the epic, Mahabharat.

My play Mahabharat sees the battle of Hastinapur through the prism of Duryodhan and Karn: Puneet Issar

Veteran film and TV actor Puneet Issar is enjoying reprising his iconic Duroyodhan character in a new stage adaptation of the Mahabharat, which he has also written and directed.

“So far, we have had 25/30, very well-received shows. My Mahabharata sees the battle of Hastinapur through the prism of Duryodhan and Karn. History is written from the perspective of the winner, but there is always the other side of the coin. So I have tried to explain why, despite being so powerful, the above duo lost.”

“The challenge becomes stiffer, for I cannot digress from Ved Vyas’ verses and also retain the glory of Lord Krishna.”

“Given the humongous size of India’s greatest epic, along with the responsibility of keeping up to my earlier avatar, I took 2 years to write this two and half hour presentation.”

“I have also worked on myself to look the part, having shed over 20 kilos (heavy weights, martial arts and functional training). I am now fitter than before. Having said that, my son Siddharath Issar will play the young Kaurav prince.”

“I have juggled writing and direction before Garv (Salman Khan). Ditto with TV serial, Gama Pehlawan, acting along with directing is new, but then I like to push myself.”

Coming to the writing, he says, “I have written the poetic dialogues in a manner that will not only keep the intellectuals happy, but will not go over the head of the common man as well.”

“The best part of our epic is that it is always relevant, teaching us how to be a better human and sticking to our rich heritage and cultural vein.”

Besides himself, Puneet has retained Gufi Paintal as Shakuni mama and Surinder Pal (Dronacharya) from the old DD Mahabharat, as both still look their respective characters. “I could not take others as they did not fit the character brief. So I have taken other talented Mumbai and Delhi artists (Meghna Malik and Rahul Bhuchar).”

“My Bheem (Danish Akhtar) actually weighs 120 kilos, for we need someone that beefy to justify the above character.”

Puneet seems to love the mytho stage, for he also wrote and directed other mytho play, Ravan Ki Ramayan, where he played the title character. “There too, we tried to show the demon king’s side of the story. It has become a hit, having crossed over 100 shows.”


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