Panchayat takes you back to the good old Malgudi Days times. It was in no haste to tell the tale. It takes its own time to uncover the bitter-sweet side of every character. Still, in the meantime, you gradually fall in love with flawed characters.
Panchayat is Abhishek’s story, an engineering grad who finds himself stuck in a place he will most probably hate forever. Reason? He gets no other job than that of a Secretary of Panchayat in the Phulera village of Uttar Pradesh. Basically, this life is forced upon him, not willingly chosen by him.
His struggle then begins. From the kind of accommodation he is given to the way he is treated by the other Panchayat members and the villagers – you pity this guy for all the trauma he has been put through in the series. At the same time, you can’t help yourself but laugh at his ordeal. All thanks to the other Panchayat members who try their best to make it all bearable for him.
Unlike some web series and films that are trying to sell their content by bringing real issues to reel just for entertainment without understanding its sensitivity, Panchayat sheds light on the real issues and problems of Rural India in a funny way without disrespecting their way of living or making us pity or loathe them. As I mentioned earlier, the characters are flawed. They belong to an uneducated lot whose only experience is, ‘Life.’ They are not purposely involved in wrongdoings but do certain things just because it’s their way of living and there was no one around to show them the right way.
The cast is wonderful. When actors like Raghubir Yadav and Neena Gupta come together, you are left with no other choice than to love the characters they are portraying. What I loved the most about Panchayat is Abhishek Tripathi and the casting for this character. Jitendra Kumar should always play a character that we see in real-life. He is no hero and that is his USP. Why am I saying that? In episode 6, a gang of boys threatens him. After much anticipation and peer pressure, Abhishek Tripathi decides to fight against the bullying with the support from his gang of boys. Obviously, they are no heroes. Fortunately, the makers did not even try to make heroes out of common man. Abhishek, along with his gang tries to fight with the boys but when everything seems to fail he picks up the rifle, and that fight is hilarious. When the scene began, I thought that being the hero, he would either scare the boys off by aiming at them, shooting, or fighting with them the Bollywood style. To my surprise, he did scare them off, but in a common man, sanki style. He was no hero. That is one of the key reasons why you love him all the more.
Like many of us, he is just another young man stuck in a job he would not want even in his dreams which is why he is frustrated, almost all the time. Throughout the series, no matter what happens, he does not give up on his frustration. Whether he tells the audience or not, the audience knows that he hates every single minute of his life and can do anything and everything under the sun to get out of the rut.
Neena Gupta’s role, though small in Season 1, she has played it so perfectly that even in a scene or two, you understand what her character, Manju Devi is capable of. You keep wishing that she takes her power back, realise her potential and not give up on the opportunity she has got to bring the much-needed change in the village. In Season 2, I am sure the focus will shift on her, her strength, and woman power.
Yes, there will be Season 2 of Panchayat, and such series do need several seasons. They can’t limit themselves to 8 episodes. Another best thing about this series was, they did not leave any open-ended questions for season 2. What began in the first season ended in the first season. Towards the end, a new beginning was born for season 2.
Though Panchayat Season 1 was pregnant with this baby, it will be delivered in Season 2.
P.S: I cannot end this blog without mentioning Chandan Roy, the guy who played Vikas and also silently supported Abhishek Tripathi’s ‘vikas.’ He is an absolute pleasure to watch.
Where to Watch? Amazon Prime Video