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Panchayat review: Wonderful slice-of-life series that tackles village life and politics

Release Date: 03 Apr 2020

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Sonal Pandya

The Amazon Prime web-series, starring Jitendra Kumar, Raghuvir Yadav, and Neena Gupta, explores the simple goings-on of a rural panchayat office in Uttar Pradesh with heart and humour.

Amazon Prime seems to have taken the lead when it comes to engaging Indian series online. After Breathe, Made In Heaven, and The Family Man, Panchayat is the latest series to knock it out of the park. The web-series, which was released earlier this month, has been created by The Viral Fever (TVF), who first burst on the scene with Permanent Roommates on YouTube in 2014. 

Panchayat, directed by Deepak Kumar Mishra and written by Chandan Kumar, follows recent graduate Abhishek Tripathi, played by Jitendra Kumar, who is able to land only a government job as a secretary in a small village in Phulera in Uttar Pradesh. His friend Prateek (Biswapati Sarkar) urges him to take the post, to follow a calling like Shah Rukh Khan’s Mohan Bhargava in Swades (2004)

The reality is far from both their expectations. Envious of Prateek’s cushy, well-paying corporate job, Abhishek begins studying for the CAT exam in hope of a better future. Life in a village that closes down by 7:30 pm is dull and boring, and Abhishek has to juggle duties like entertaining a petulant groom, painting government signs across the village, and overseeing Republic Day ceremonies. 

Raghuvir Yadav and Neena Gupta

Manju Devi (Neena Gupta) is the actual pradhan (chief) of the village, but the pradhan pati (chief’s husband) Brij Bhushan Dubey (Raghuvir Yadav) handles the day-to-day work. The pradhan pati’s right hand man Prahlad (Faisal Malik) and Abhishek’s office assistant (Chandan Roy) round out the rest of the motley crew. Together, their escapades will make you cringe, laugh, and eventually just warm your heart. 

Over the course of eight well-written episodes, Panchayat explores the plain goings-on of a rural panchayat office in Uttar Pradesh with heart and humour. The series’ theme song, an instant hummable ditty by composer Anurag Saikia, sets the pace for the world of Phulera. 

Each episode revolves around an ordinary object, an old lock, a cushioned chair on wheels, or a simple premise, which snowballs into something larger teaching a lesson to all involved. The complicated politics and rituals of village life are both fascinating and amusing.

Jitendra Kumar and Chandan Roy

The fifth episode, titled ‘Computer Nahi Monitor’, is a standout wherein a computer monitor is stolen from the office one night after a drunk Abhishek forgets to lock the doors. The episode’s end scene provides a genuine laugh-out-loud moment. 

Jitendra Kumar is fantastic as the perpetually frustrated Abhishek, who is stuck in a world of his own making. He knows what he must do, but his quick temper often gets in the way of making right decisions. Yadav, as the former pradhan, is in fine form as he teaches Abhishek the ways of the village; he and Gupta share a wonderful chemistry as a couple. 

Gupta, despite being the pradhan, stays mostly in the sidelines, until the last few episodes where her character asserts herself into village politics. If the series goes for a second season (which it should), it would be interesting to see where it takes her next. Roy, as Abhishek’s foot-in-mouth assistant, is both endearing and hilarious. Their dynamics provide much of the fodder for the 30-minute episodes. 

Panchayat has arrived at a time when we need it most. The streaming series gives a well-needed respite from our own troubles in this time of the coronavirus pandemic. Within no time, you’ll find yourself immersed into their ordinary lives and asking for more time with them. 

Related topics

The Viral Fever Amazon Prime Video

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