Puneet Issar Interview
Puneet Issar talks about his latest theatre effort, the-soon-to-be-premiered DHAPPA, which is waiting for a suitable release window during these pandemic affected times.

 By Johnson Thomas

The actor is now on his third wind with theatre and OTT appearances filling his calendar - in addition to some choice film and TV appearances. The 'dusht' Duryodhan of B R Chopra's television magnum opus, Mahabharat, made his majestic foray into the theatrical space with his super hit, the poetic MAHABHARAT –THE EPIC TALE, based on Karna and Duryodhana's perspective, written and directed by the actor himself. Puneet, later on, cashed in on that super success with yet another hit mythological work titled RAAVAN KI RAMAYAN, where he played the lead, Raavan, in a play written and directed by Atul Satya Kaushik. While the 'dusht' epithet may have followed him into the theatrical space, his talent and perseverance could not be denied, netting him choicest roles in reputed works like Mohan Rakesh's ADHE ADHURE, ASHADH KA EK DIN and other classics. Puneet soon established himself as one of the most reputed, bankable names in Hindi theatre.

So it comes as no surprise when young writer-directors approach the stalwart with challenging roles. Puneet is in fact gung-ho about the starring role he assays in the socially relevant, suspenseful, musical drama, DHAPPA, written and directed by Akshay Mishra. "With this play" he says, " I am breaking the mould so-to-speak." While his theatre appearances were thus-far largely, mythology related, this new effort is in the real world. "The play is set in 1960 around the time when Indian cinema was studded with greats like Bimal Roy, Guru Dutt, Mehboob Khan, etc. and I play the main protagonist, an aspiring writer- director determined to make a socially relevant film close to his heart."

Ask him what he thinks of theatre as a profession, he opines, "Theatre satisfies the artiste in me. Having studied the nuances of the craft at the Actor's Studio, I am open to exploring my talent to the fullest possible. Theatre allows me that freedom. Films, TV and OTT bring in the money. Over the years I have been able to adapt to different mediums as well as foray into the south as a much in demand villain." The actor has in fact performed rather well across all mediums.

The pandemic may have effected a temporary pause to his well-oiled, free-flowing career path. But the actor has kept the momentum going. In addition to working in OTT projects and doing a role in his son, Siddhant Issar's short film Resurrection- Jaago aur Jeeyo on the issue of suicide, he has been busy with rehearsals for DHAPPA which was scheduled to premiere at Prithvi on 13th April 2021 but has now be rescheduled for a month later provided the proposed lockdown is lifted by then. Fans are in fact looking forward to seeing the actor in a new everyday avatar and DHAPPA will probably be the key to opening up a wider range of personas for him to enact in the future.

*Johnson Thomas is an independent critic and columnist.

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