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Puneet Issar’s 1950s-based Hindi musical play Dhappa set for premiere in Mumbai today

The veteran film and television actor is essaying an experimental role for the first time in theatre.

Our Correspondent

The 1950s-based Hindi musical play Dhappa, starring Puneet Issar, will be premiered in Mumbai today at St Andrew's Theatre in Bandra (West).

Issar, best known for his role as Duryodhan in BR Chopra’s television series Mahabharat, is essaying an experimental role for the first time in theatre.

Presented by Aum Theatre Mumbai, the Hindi thriller has been written and produced by Akshay Mishra and Sharon Chandra, and directed by Mishra. Chandra, a theatre actress and Kathak dancer from the Fiji Islands, has a key part in the play.

Mishra stated that he was inspired by the look and music of films like Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje (1955), Jalsaghar (1958), Mughal-e-Azam (1960) and Pakeezah (1972). “I wanted to recreate some of that time through a play," he said. "And Dhappa was born!

"But it was not an easy feat. I researched a lot on the types of thumris that were played in that era and endeavoured to write thumris that would resonate with my audience. I was inspired by the thumris sung by Shamshad Begum, Begum Akhtar, Siddheshwari Devi, and many more and tried to recreate a little sprinkle of that golden era that these maestros ruled in.”

He added, “I can’t wait for the audience to hear these beautiful pieces of music. We took inspiration from the 1950s and styled our costumes, a magnificent setting with a staircase and chandelier, vintage props, and soulful music and dance to give our audience a sneak peek into our version of the unheard stories of the 1950s.”

Issar, who plays a filmmaker in the play, said he knew the script was destined for him. “Gems like Ritwik Ghatak, Satyajit Ray, Bimal Roy, V Shantaram, Guru Dutt, Raj Kapoor, Mehboob Khan and Vijay Anand had speckled our lives with the most realistic souvenirs," he said. "Their work jostled me to see the pain and struggles faced by real people. In that golden age, these directors had freed opinions, fought with patriarchy, wept with the unfortunate, and rebelled against the unkind. I always thought, if only I would have got the chance to work in that era.”

He continued, “When Akshay narrated the script, it immediately made me feel that this would be my opportunity to possibly portray a writer and director of the 1950s and show the real pain that these filmmakers felt. Coincidentally, when I read the script, there was a line about ‘Duryodhan’. It just clicked!”

Producer-actress Chandra shared her happiness at working with Issar. “His work ethic, dedication, and support to our team motivate us," she said. "He is an inspiration to us and always ensures to guide us. I am happy that I represent my country Fiji and hopefully motivate people from my country to come to India and live the adventurous life of an artist!”

Dhappa's premiere show will take place at 7pm at the St Andrew's Auditorium in Bandra (West), Mumbai. Tickets are available on BookMyShow.com.