I bet we’re all getting desperate for some worthwhile content to keep us occupied amid the lockdown. So, while endlessly gorging on web shows and movies, I stumbled upon Amazon Prime’s latest TV show Panchayat and what a pleasant surprise it turned out to be! Now, I am no stranger to TVF having spent a fair amount of time watching and re-watching Permanent Roommates, Pitchers and a few others. Yet, this one came with a flavor of its own.
It is a story based around the rugged backyards of the country and no, it isn’t soaked in the bollywood syrup like others that came before. Here’s a story of a simple young man who gets posted as a secretary to one of the village Panchayats. He is surrounded by true to the tee and lovable characters who annoy/support/teach him much through this journey.
What also makes the show stand out are its supporting characters who play their parts with unerring honesty. Even the role of the friend played by Biswapati Sarkar (who has achieved a sort of mastery of his own) manages to leave an imprint. But the character that ultimately steals the show is Vikas (played by Chandan Roy). His simplicity and child-like innocence don’t go unnoticed even though he never goes overboard in his effort to portray them.
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Raghubir Yadav (Brij Bushan Dubey) is an actor who isn’t unfamiliar to such a setting. He plays his role with an unmatched, inimitable ease giving some adorable moments that leave you admiring him. As the self-appointed Village Pradhan (or Pradhan-Pati, as he calls himself), he is happy juggling life between home and the Panchayat. Supporting him is wife Neena Gupta (Manju Devi), who moulds herself into the surrounding she is presented with. There are actors who invest much in looking the part, she puts most of her effort in being that part.
She soaks in the surrounding and the character so well that it’s hard to separate her from them. She beautifully supports Raghubir Yadav through the story and makes their pair something to marvel at. My only grouse is she isn’t utilized to her potential. The lead character Jeetu seems perfectly fit for the role of a middle class young man who is put in an unfamiliar situation. He constantly wears a subtle laid back and confused expression but that mostly works in his favour. He does a good job of driving the story forward and simply holding it together.
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Overall the cast do a good job at making you laugh (which sometimes could be fits of laughter) and at other times leaves you with a little lump in the throat. Some episodes like the fight with the goons and the TV nahi monitor episode have gem moments that had me pause so I could finish laughing before the story moved on. A good story doesn’t just rely on witty jokes and one liners but also blends in other life’s emotions that weave together to complete it.
The highlights for me remain the authenticity with which the characters were written, directed and played. TVF has set quite a benchmark for others or rather it has broken all moulds and carved something of its own.
Panchayat comes as a ray of hope in these dark, gloomy times when we are all forced to stay and look inwards. It doesn’t hope to preach yet leaves a few subtle messages for those who care enough to find them. But what Panchayat certainly leaves you with is a warm, endearing smile.
By Madhu Rai
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