Mahabharat from Duryodhan's perspective
Written and directed by Puneet Issar, the play is a new version of historical epic presented from the point of view of Duryodhan and Karan, and highlights the causes that led to the destructive war
Felicity Theatre recently staged the magnum opus play – Mahabharat for the first time, at the Siri Fort Auditorium. Refreshingly, the play is a new version of the historical epic presented from the point of view of Duryodhan and Karan and highlights the causes that led to the destructive war. Written and directed by Puneet Issar, a film and television stalwart, the play included a bunch of iconic stars like Puneet Issar, Rahul Bhuchar, Meghna Malik Urvashi Dholakia, Gufi Paintal, Surendra Pal, Aarti Nagpal, Vijayta Bhardwaj, Danish Akhtar, Yashodhan Rana, Karan Sharma, Siddhant Issar and Rakshit Bhuchar.
On depicting Mahabhara through Duryondhan and Karan's perspective, Puneet Issar told Millennium Post, "When I played the role of Duryodhan in 1988, in BR Chopra's Mahabharat, I did an in-depth and detailed character study of Duryodhan; I read books and many pieces of art which depicted the Mahabharat from Duryodhan's point of view and I realised that someone should tell the story of Mahabharat as Duryodhan saw it. I feel that Duryodhan is a hero of a classical tragedy. It is said that history is written by those who win wars and ignores the ones defeated. Duryodhan's story is incomplete without the story of Karan as they shared a great friendship."
This never seen before version of Mahabharata written by Puneet Issar is narrated by Dharti mata, played by the renowned actor Meghna Malik. Throughout the play, she explains that no matter what the reasons for conflict may have been, the end result has always been the destruction of the planet and mankind.
The most important part of any production is choosing its cast. Though, the play revolves around the three pivotal characters – Duryodhan (Puneet Issar), Karan (Rahul Bhuchar) and Draupadi (Urvashi Dholakia) and Puneet's son Siddhant Issar is seen playing the younger version of his father on the stage as young Duryodhan, the play has a bunch of acoomplished theatricians.
While choosing a cast of this play, Puneet Issar made a conscious effort to not cast typical theatre actors. He said it was important to look out for the actors who have mythological and Greek-god like persona. Therefore, some of the actors from the original Mahabharat have been repeated for their star value as well as television actors.
Puneet agrees that balancing direction and acting at the same time on set gets very challenging. "As an actor, you have to be selfish but as a director, you have to be selfless. So as a director, I had to see to it that other than justifying Duryodhan, I also have to justify other characters," he said.
Siddhant Issar, Puneet's son did a number of plays but playing Duryodhan has been special for him."When I was born, Mahabharat (the TV show) was at its absolute prime and my father was known as Duryodhan, so when the nurse told my parents that a boy is born, so she exclaimed that a junior Duryodhan is born!. So I guess I was destined to play Duryodhan at some stage in my life.
Growing up watching his father play this role, junior Duryodhan learned a lot from his father.
Urvashi Dholakia reveals her first reaction when she was offered the role of Draupadi. She said, "No. I don't want to do it." "To be honest, I've never been theatre inclined but Puneet sat me down, made me listen to my role, the dialogues and the entire script which was extremely interesting after which I just couldn't say no. So from the first reaction to what it is now are two completely different things and I'm extremely happy with myself to have made this decision of doing this play," she added.
Rahul Bhuchar believes that there is one single hero in the Mahabharat, one character who did not cheat, who did not use malicious ways to achieve ends – Karan.
"In our play Karan is a man who is the epitome of sacrifice, selfless devotion, selfless friendship and of being extremely generous because of which he was also known as 'Danveer Karan'. He was one of the greatest and bravest warriors, so it's an honour to be getting an opportunity to show the people his perspective of Mahabharat alongside Duryodhan's as they were the two sides of the same coin and one couldn't exist without the other," he stated.
He described his journey playing the role as 'life-changing'.
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