By Sushma ‘Shandilya’
Panchayat’ aired on Amazon Prime, is one of the most popular Hindi web series. The first season aired in May 2020 and second season released in May 2022.
‘Panchayat’ depicts human feelings, relationships, showing reality of simple truths. ‘Panchayat’ depicts rural life beautifully, in spite of problems, facing small things of daily life with happiness and ease. ‘Panchayat’ stands apart from the rubbish content often being shown. All characters, all frames are indigenous, without any frills, the simplicity speaks volumes, having a nice fragrance of village life. ‘Panchayat’ shows a picture of India’s real village where the internet doesn’t reach properly and the funny part shows a CCTV camera being used to search a lost goat.
Eight episodes of ‘Panchayat-2’ are titled ‘Naach, Bolchaal Band, Kranti, Tension, Jaise ko taisa, Aukaat, Dost yaar and Parivar’, showing an astonishing end. Director ‘Deepak Kumar Mishra’s direction is superb. Screenplay writer ‘Chandan Kumar’ wrote the entire season so well. The dialogues are cheeky with many situations making the viewers tickle, like ‘The culture of the village is that food and drink should be done before the electricity goes off’ and ‘Loyalty doesn’t even make pickles nowadays’ are worth mentioning. Well composed songs can be heard separately.
The casting is perfect, all artists are fit for their roles, very real as if they haven’t acted. Jitendra Kumar as Panchayat secretary ‘Abhishek Tripathi’ has acted suitably for the country-like-character, proving himself a superb actor with calm yet sharp facial expressions. ‘Sanvika’ as ‘Rinki’ having few scenes and dialogues, leaves a nice impression, as the daughter of Panchayat head Manju Devi (Neena Gupta) and her husband Brijbhushan Dubey, (Raghubir Yadav) who are paired well with occasional amusing tussles between them. ‘Vikas’ (Chandan Roy) as Abhishek’s assistant and ‘Prahlad Pandey’ (Faisal Malik) as deputy head are amazing. Despite small space, few scenes, ‘Pankaj Jha’ as the local MLA, ‘Chandra Kishore Singh’ has registered his place, increasing heat in the story. The brick-kiln owner Parmeshwar (Srikanth Verma) indulges in politics for the sale of mud, excavated from the pond. Bhushan (Durgesh Kumar) addressed as ‘Banrakhas’ (demon of the forest) by the villagers and his wife Kranti Devi (Sunita Rajwar) both plan to contest the election of the village head, accordingly indulging in petty politics, adding a bit of temper to ‘Panchayat’. Ashok Pathak who plays ‘Binod’ (the villager waiting endlessly for his toliet to be built) has also delivered a stellar performance doing full justice to his character.
‘Panchayat’ season one’s last episode showed Abhishek and Rinki coming face to face for the first time. Season 2 starts with a conversation between Vikas and Prahlad, feeling that Abhishek and Rinki are having an affair. Abhishek and Rinki, whenever together, are shown with a feeling of hesitation. It gradually evolves to the manifest concern-care for each other. Considering it a state of love, the director has beautifully threaded and woven this unspeakable love skillfully.
Episode ‘Aukaat’ narrates the reality that Panchayat is established with the goal of decentralization of power. The MLA is the center of power and authority, for him the Secretary and Pradhan hold the status of two pennies. MLA is the perfect example, representative of the values of capital which has made manlessness a value of power. He repeatedly emphasizes his caste over his position, declaring with conceit that Panchayat authorities will explain to him, also proving that more than being MLA, his strength lies in being a Thakur. The village people and officers are scared of him. MLA using Manju Devi’s husband Brijbhushan rudely shows that he has turned him into a mere machinery for collecting votes for the MLA.
Abhishek inadvertently becomes prey to the dirty politics of MLA who gets furious, abusing, humiliating him. In the scene where MLA abuses Abhishek, it seems as if common people are abused by power. The MLA’s humiliating behavior hurts Abhishek, making the viewers start feeling humiliated too.
On the contrary, Abhishek holds human values, not letting them go even in the midst of most tense situations and annoyance, thus raising high faith in humanity. Be it an episode of a dancer girl, a drunk driver, searching for a goat, construction of toilet or inviting the MLA for Akhand Ramayan program, Abhishek’s humanity is displayed resulting in the viewers affectionately loving his character. Abhishek’s character is crafted well, Jitendra has acted effortlessly, strengthening the faith in human emotions, virtues in the midst of adverse times and circumstances.
The issues making the village drug-free and open defecation free are raised nicely. The issue of one km. road full of potholes and dust, connecting the village to the main road is handled well. Another story shows the invisible trap related to the illusion created by capital and youths entangled in it. After completing B.Tech, Abhishek is preparing for MBA and planning to leave the village soonest possible. Meanwhile he becomes Panchayat Secretary, earning 20,000 salary. Knowing this, a drunk driver sarcastically taunts Abhishek that after marriage, he’ll not be able to manage life in 20,000, resulting in getting drunk like him.
In another episode, Abhishek’s America returned classmate Siddharth Gupta, working in Gurgaon on an annual package of 1.25 crores, visits Phulera village. Knowing this, Abhishek has a sense of insecurity which creates tension in the story, showing this trap as a reality and Abhishek as a symbol of stressed youth.
In the last episode, when Manju Devi doesn’t allow the MLA to enter the village, viewers feel a sense of relief and happiness. Such distance and gap between power and common people shows the hollowness, lack of democracy accepted in India.
The attitudes of simplicity, mediocrity, honesty, truthfulness, compassion, love, virtues and immense humanity against the items of capital, power, conceit, falsehood, hypocrisy, inequality and anti-human conduct, all these essence make ‘Panchayat’ a loved and popular web series, making the basic heart of the series coming to the fore. ‘Panchayat’ is a must watch for those interested in light-hearted stories executed well, other than stories soaked in crime-blood, sensation-mystery, thrill and sex. Viewers who have watched first season, will not be disappointed after watching the second season of ‘Panchayat.’
Contributing Author: Sushma ‘Shandilya’ is a well-known Hindi poet and writer based in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India. Her short stories, articles and plays have been published in leading Indian publications. Sushma ‘Shandilya’ writes on various contemporary issues including themes around women empowerment. She is also a yoga teacher.
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