Susan Lewis once said that it is important to get to know your characters- even talking to them is imperative. And if your characters do not talk to you, then your characters have a serious problem. Well, Chandan Kumar’s Panchayat seems to follow this advice religiously as all the characters do not end up solely as caricatures. TVF’s flawless new production brings forth yet another coup that caters to the current interest of the audience. Last year, when Kota Factory was released around the same time, the students went crazy behind the concept and enjoyed the web series to the core. This year again TVF has hit the bull’s eye by coming up with a show that brings out the essence of discovering yourself in isolation (metaphorically hinting towards the social distancing or so I think).
Panchayat is about a young graduate whose career is in the doldrums. With no offer letter to bank upon, Abhishek Tripathi has to decide whether to take up a government job as the secretary of the Panchayat or have no job at all- it is a Hobson’s choice! Consequently, after much assurance from his friend, Prateek, he takes up the job in the remote village that goes by the name of Phulera. Abhishek is greeted by two ‘pethas’, a deputy pradhan and a personal assistant, Vikas. Forced to bite the bullet, Abhishek tries to come to grips with the modern truths of the village times that the people in Phulera will do anything to get things done, there will be no power supply in the evening and that he will have to begin looking for another job that is less miserable than this one.
The story is subtle yet true. Unlike other jobs that are looked down upon, the writers have taken the pain of touching upon the grassroot level and exploring life in an Indian village. Like a fly on the wall, the viewers will get to watch the melodramatic life of Abhishek Tripathi who becomes a part of unwanted chores like naming a child Aarav or Aatmaram, getting the slogans painted on the walls, saving his revolving chair from a doltish groom or saving the villagers from a haunted tree. Each episode is different and that is the reason this show is not for binge-watching. The writers have touched upon many themes like how if a woman wins the seat in the election, her husband hijacks her status and position by claiming that she is only suitable for doing housework. The show also throws light upon the effect of the slogans on the illiterate. In one scene, Abhishek is asked to get the following slogan painted on the walls and the response he gets from the villagers is horrific.
दो बच्चे हैं मीठी खीर,
उस से ज्यादा बवासीर।
It is no wonder why people are reproducing at this rate! They do not understand the purpose of putting up such slogans. They get offended and become more obstinate.
The story is about those small triumphant moments when you feel you are out of the woods but then find the woods staring right back at you inviting you for dinner! It is about learning what your heart desires and burning the midnight oil to inch closer towards success. It is about the problems that are a political hot potato in a village. It is about new friendships. It is about accepting your circumstances and enjoying every moment spent in peace. It projects the mentality of the people who are keener on believing have they haven’t seen than what they have! The show might not have glamour nor action but it definitely passes the muster when it comes to breaking the ice between the real world and the make-belief world!
Jitendra Kumar, Jitu, is perfect as Abhishek Tripathi. His ingenious acting and placid personality are enough to tickle the funny bone. Neena Gupta as the Pradhan’s wife is amusing yet strong-headed. She does not deter from calling a spade a spade. In fact, a little dose of right words propels her to take charge. Raghuvir Yadav as the chief Pradhan is annoying at first but then becomes a delight to watch. Chandan Roy as Vikas is funny. He is the perfect sidekick for Abhishek as he knows how to complete his sentences! The cinematography is clean and top-notch. The background score is catchy and goes well with the show.
Vikas, Abhishek’s assistant, quotes in the very first episode- Tanki ke upar se gaav aur bhi sunder lagega aur usse pyaar ho jayega (If you climb on the tank and see, you will find the village more beautiful and will fall in love with it). Well, it turns out to be true because the last episode does leave you longing for more.
Panchayat is worth every second you spend because in these times when we all are alone and have enough time to ponder, this show comes as a respite and helps us delve into something much deeper than sheer entertainment.
Image source: Google