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Home / Fitness / Puneet Issar on playing Duryodhana again and his passion for gyming at 60

Puneet Issar on playing Duryodhana again and his passion for gyming at 60

Puneet Issar turned 60 this November, but his current schedule would give 25-year-olds a run for their money. The rigorous workout routine that he puts himself through daily is to get into shape to play the iconic role once again that made him a household name in India, Duryodhana.

fitness Updated: Nov 06, 2019 11:11 IST
Kabir Singh Bhandari
Kabir Singh Bhandari
Hindustan Times, Delhi
Puneet Issar hits the gym for 2.5 hours, 6 days a week. He’s gotten in shape to play Duryodhana once again in  a play called Mahabharata, written and directed by him.
Puneet Issar hits the gym for 2.5 hours, 6 days a week. He’s gotten in shape to play Duryodhana once again in a play called Mahabharata, written and directed by him.

BR Chopra’s Mahabharata that began in 1988 on Indian television brought alive many significant and complex characters in Indian mythology. Those perfected portrayals continue to intrigue us on many levels till date. Duryodhana was one such stellar role played by actor Puneet Issar. His fierce disapproving eyes, his intimidating demeanor, his obsession with power has set a high benchmark that many actors haven’t been able to overshadow in the many versions of the epic ancient tale.

Some of his other works include- Ram Jaane (1995) and Border (1997).

Puneet Issar turned 60 this November, but his current schedule would give 25-year-olds a run for their money. The rigorous workout routine that he puts himself through daily is to get into shape to play the iconic role once again that made him a household name in India, Duryodhana.

Issar as Duryodhana in his 2018 theatre production Mahbharat.
Issar as Duryodhana in his 2018 theatre production Mahbharat.

“I have always had a heavy built and have been into all sorts of physical activities like weight training and martial arts (he is an eigth-degree black belt). When I was doing the play Raavan (2015-2018), I needed to have a certain build, since he is larger than life and his portrayal demands a lot. So, I started doing heavy weights which increased my girth and size. Then in 2018, I started writing another play, depicting the Mahabharata from Duryodhana’s perspective. I realised I would have to get in shape like I was 30 years ago when I played Duryodhana in the Mahabharata TV series (1988-1990). Back then, I was between 98-104 kgs, with no fat. For this present role, I would need to drastically cut down on my weight, which fluctuates between 118-122 kgs,” says Issar.

Issar as Duryodhana in the Mahabharat TV series (1989).
Issar as Duryodhana in the Mahabharat TV series (1989).

Revisiting Duryodhan

Issar wakes up every day at 7 am and has a cup of black coffee with ceramic powder and a spoon of coconut oil. He then goes for an 8 km run during which he rehearses the lines of the Mahabharata play. For breakfast, he has a five-egg omelet- comprising two egg whites and three full eggs with a bit of spinach and chicken.

“Around 12 pm, I hit the gym, and work out for 2.5 hours (6 days a week). My trainer is this young girl who literally kills me. Post the gym I have lunch which could be palak, broccoli or chicken. I am on a ketos diet so I avoid sugar, dairy products, wheat, grain or pulses. Post that, I head for the rehearsals,” says Issar.

The cast of the 2018 theatre production Mahabharat.
The cast of the 2018 theatre production Mahabharat.

He alters his routine at times by adding swimming, surya namaskars, martial arts and cross fit. One can also spot him playing cricket with the kids in his building when he finds time.

“I am practicing martial arts currently and I aim for 1,000 kicks a day. In the 80s and 90s I would do 10,000 in a day. I would work out seven hours a day- 3.5 hours in the morning and 3.5 in the evening. At that time, I was 82 kgs, after which I started doing heavy weights for Duryodhana’s role, and reached 94 kgs. At that point of time, I was the only one in our industry who had that kind of a physique ,” he says.

Issar believes that workouts are more important as one enters the 40s bracket, more so after 50s and definitely after 60s.

 

“Age is just a number. it’s all in the head. Look at the likes of Sylvester Stallone, 72 Clint Eastwood, 88 and how they stay fit.

On November 17, we shall once again see Issar in his most favourite avatar, so maybe it’s time to skip Netflix and revisit Doordarshan’s Mahabharata.

Mahabharata shall be staged at Siri Fort Auditorium, Delhi at 4 pm and 7 pm on November 17.

The author tweets at @shadowwarior and be reached at kabir.bhandari@htdigital.in