Dhappa, a 1950s musical play featuring Puneet Issar in Hindi, premieres in Mumbai

Mumbai: Aum Theater Mumbai is set to launch ‘Dhappa, a 1950s Based Musical Play with Puneet Issar’, a Hindi thriller on 18th June 2022 at St Andrew Theater Bandra. Actor Puneet Issar, who is forever etched in our minds as the great Duryodhan from BR Chopra’s Mahabharat TV series, will play an experimental role in theater for the first time. The play is written and produced by Akshay Mishra and Sharon Chandra and directed by Akshay Mishra. Play Dhappa has splendid scenery, vintage design costumes, fantastic storyline, melodious songs and music and dancing that will captivate the audience.

DHAPPA is a very meaningful and realistic play where one can relate to the sacrifices, repentance, passion and perseverance implemented by the actors on stage. Actor Puneet Issar has transformed into a DHAPPA character he has never played before. The piece also features the work of Sharon Chandra who plays a central role in DHAPPA. Sharon is a theater actress and kathak dancer from Fiji. She graduated in Kathak from Kathak Kendra, New Delhi.

Writer and director, Akshay Mishra attempted to envision the 1950s era and wrote DHAPPA, the musical piece said, “I was enamored with the kind of dance, music, costumes and sets that were used in many great movies like Mughal-e-Azam, Jalsaghar, Pakeezah, Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje etc. We always admire these veterans who worked tirelessly and gave us priceless gems. We are forever indebted to their work which gives us a glimpse of a beautiful bygone era. I wanted to recreate part of that time through a play. And DHAPPA was born! But that was no small feat. I did a lot of research on the types of thumris that were being played at that time and strove 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 others and tried to recreate a little pinch of that golden era in which these maestros reigned. I can’t wait for the public to hear these beautiful pieces of music. We took inspiration from the 1950s and designed our costumes, a beautiful setting with a staircase and chandelier, vintage props, soulful music and dancing to give our audience a taste of our version of the untold stories from the 1950s. 1950.”

Actor Puneet Issar says, “I had a distant memory that faded over time. Gems like Ritwik Ghatak, Satyajit Ray, Bimal Roy, V. Shantaram, Guru Dutt, Raj Kapoor, Mehboob Khan and Vijay Anand had peppered our lives with the most realistic memories. Their work pushed me to see the pain and struggles that real people face. In that golden age, these leaders had liberated opinion, fought against patriarchy, mourned with the unfortunate, and rebelled against the wicked. I always thought that if only I had had the chance to work at that time. When Akshay narrated the script, it immediately made me feel like this would be an opportunity for me to possibly portray a writer and director from the 1950s and show the real pain these filmmakers were feeling. And coincidentally, when I read the script, there was a line about ‘Duryodhan’. It just clicked! I knew this scenario was meant for me!

Actress and producer Sharon Chandra said, “I feel extremely lucky and happy to have the opportunity to work with Puneetji. His work ethic, his dedication and his support to our team motivate us. He is an inspiration to us and always makes sure to guide us. I am happy to represent my country, Fiji, and hope to inspire people from my country to come to India and live the adventurous life of an artist!

Directing an original script is always a gamble, but Akshay Mishra had a great answer in store. “There is a real need to tell original stories! Writers such as Saadat Hasan Manto, Ismat Chugtai, Nirmal Varma, Harishankar Parsai, Kafka, Maupassant, Sharat Chandra, Dhanveer Bharti, Tolstoy, Gorkhi, Bhishm Sahani, etc. inspired us and led us in the right direction. Truth be told, just using the work of these prestigious writers more or less guarantees a certain percentage of viewership. Our generation should also take inspiration from these writers and attempt to write original stories and plays that would later become a pathway for the next generation of writers. I continued to perfect the script and lyrics of the songs and it brought me great joy when Mr. Puneet Issar agreed to participate in the first reading!

William N. Fernandez