Starring Jitendra Kumar, Neena Gupta, and Raghubir Yadav in titular roles Panchayat is a flawlessly made comedy web series. The plot and it’s narrative are as refreshing as a bottle of soda in the summer heat.
I had not watched the series when it released considering it to be a short film type of a making. But, thank God that I watched it now and I take back my initial judgement.
Sometimes, all you need is a single person to fall in love with an entire village.
Abhishek Tripathi (Jitendra Kumar) takes up the government job of a Panchayat secretary and is posted in a small village of Uttar Pradesh. All this because he couldn’t crack a lucrative enough job. He decides to prepare for the CAT and get into IIM's in the hope of a 6 digit salary (like many Indian students plan to do).
Right from the word go, the makers have raised up the stark differences between the rural and urban lifestyle. It is these differences that transform into conflict points, one per episode and every inch of it feels real and close to the ground.
Let it be the fight for a solar light, the superstitious belief in a ghost tree, slogans used for population control awareness, a new multi axle office chair, the confusion in computer or a monitor, entire village giving a helping hand for a big ocassion etc. and the series is replete with such light hearted, grounded in reality type of instances.
I especially liked the way in which the writers have written the conflict points for each of the episodes. They have a touch of urban development coupled with the sensibilities of a rural settlement. This way the writers have managed to make the content more relatable to the majority and keep the freshness alive.
The writers also manage to keep all the major societal issues addressed well under check by serving it with a tinge of comedy. Abhishek is not shown as a Messiah who has come to solve their problems, instead as a young urban man struggling in his present and who doesn’t imagine his future there. So naturally he will neither like the characters nor the village in the first instance. This inherent character arc gives scope for the development of other characters.
Another beautiful aspect is that there is and there is not character arcs for the president, vice president, his assistant, and other characters in the village. Let me explain, externally speaking there is no individual character arc but all of these characters evolved in Abhishek's perception. This is because village people generally take a lot of time to accept new things and the same amount of time to give up. Hence, this dichotomy was used to advantage to build character arcs for the other important characters in the story.
Jitendra Kumar as the ambitious, frustrated urbanized Abhishek Tripathi nails his performance, though the character didn’t have multiple shades and much scope to perform he will make you root for him. Raghubir Yadav as the Panchayat head is just a treat to watch, he brings in all the subtleties of a rural character to life with his dialogue delivery and body language. Neena Gupta as Raghubir Yadav's wife proves herself worth every bit of her screentime. Every other character has done justice to their roles.
I almost made a mistake not watching it. Don’t commit the same. If you haven’t watched it yet then, don’t miss the show. It’s available on Amazon Prime Video.
Grab a tub of popcorn, a bottle of coke and binge watch this series along with your family. All I can guarantee you is smiles and the feeling of a dessert at the end of a heavy meal.