After a successful rerun on Doordarshan, Mahabharat is now airing on Colors. There is also a newer version of the epic that is being aired on Star Plus. Interestingly, Puneet Issar is the only actor to be part of both the versions of Mahabharat.
Issar played Duryodhan in the Doordarshan series and Parshuram in the Star Plus show. With both these shows currently on air, the actor, in an exclusive chat with indianexpress.com, shared, “It’s an amazing feeling. People are anyway under lockdown and at home. And with the rerun, the new generation can also watch the show. It’s the best ever written screenplay, and every time it aired, it created an uproar. I am happy families are watching the show together at their home, even the new generation.”
Sharing that the show can help people gain positivity, he added, “These are great epics and teach a lot about Indian culture. Also, Ramayan and Mahabharat are not religious books. They are manuals to lead daily lives. They help one understand relationships and how to deal with adversities. While Ramayan teaches you what to do, Mahabharat tells you what you shouldn’t do. One can learn so much about human emotions and how it’s important to always choose what’s right.”
While today it’s easier to gauge a show’s success with social media trends, we asked Puneet Issar about the time Mahabharata first aired. He said, “We knew that we were getting 96-97 per cent viewership. The way it was written, people loved the show. I realised my character has become popular when everywhere I went, people would call me ‘dusht’ (evil) with so much hatred. I took it as a compliment as I realised that I must be doing a good job (laughs).”
“I remember when we were shooting the climax of Mahabharat in Rajasthan, we were invited for dinner at a big industrialist’s house. As a mark of respect, the women in the house served each of the members personally. However, they all ignored me, and a servant was sent to give me food. When I questioned an elderly lady why she didn’t serve me, she looked at me with angst and said, ‘Dusht, you troubled Lord Krishna so much, how can I serve you food!’ I didn’t know how to react, while the entire team laughed so much,” he added with a smile.
Puneet Issar confessed that while he was initially reluctant to do Mahabharat again, it was the character of Parshuram that made him say yes. “When Siddharth Kumar Tewary reached out to me, I refused. People know and love me as Duryodhan, and I didn’t want to play another character. However, when he told me that he wants me to play Parshuram, I was interested. I have studied a lot about him, and I was excited to don the role. I also gave them a lot of inputs about the character. He really made the show very well, and with all the visual effects, it only added to the quality,” he said.
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