Panchayat Review: It Appears Real, Lived-in and Smartly Unsophisticated
TV/Streaming Reviews

Panchayat Review: It Appears Real, Lived-in and Smartly Unsophisticated

Panchayat is high on credibility and intelligent insightful writing.

  • Movie Name Panchayat(Amazon Prime Video, 8 Episodes)
  • Director Deepak Kumar Mishra
  • Actor Jitendra Kumar, Chandan Roy, Neena Gupta, Raghuvir Yadav
  • Rating
  • Rating 3.5/5 Stars

Rating: : *** ½

This one knows. Just knows.  Panchayat is  an insider’s job. Its  director (Deepak Kumar Mishra), writer (Chandan  Kumar) and the actors, in big and small roles, they all know the rural milieu first-hand. Which explains why it all appears  so real, so lived-in and  so smartly unsophisticated.

Panchayat comes from the team that made Jitendra Kumar a web-star with Kota Factory. This time Kumar is cast as a employable but rather bleakly-positioned workingclass Indian who has  no choice  but to take  up a job as a secretary  in a village panchayat in Uttar Pradesh. As Abhishek Tripathy, Jitendra  brings in his  trademark laconicism and a smirking  disdain for administrative  and moral  strictures.

Sensibly,  the 8 episodes can be seen  as independent stories,  vigorous vignettes from an almost lifeless existence in a UP village named Phulera. Shot on location, I could almost smell the stench of deathly stillness and ennui. Not all of Abhishek Tripathy’s  “adventures”(if one may use the word to describe the rather humdrum incidents that are  perked up by some insightful writing) are uniformly workable and some of  them, like the one where he takes on a couple of goondas from the locality for a  fistfight in  a maidaan as barren as  the life of  the villagers, just don’t  build up into  something substantial.

After a point, the  cruel insubstantiality  of  the lives being described  in the series, begins to get  to you. There is  no hope of  a better tomorrow for  villages such as  Phulera . What keeps the episodes from sagging under the weight  of its own despair  is  the sheer brightness of the characters. These are  not people who are aware of the futility of their existence. In fact they are proud of  it.

At one point, Abhishek’s  smiling genial assistant Vikas (Chandan  Roy, a gem  of  an actor) tells  Abhishek, “Atma-samman bhi koi cheez hoti hai.”  A quality that seems incongruously high among these proud but  rudderless products of  an irredeemable  wasteland

Panchayat is high on credibility and  intelligent insightful writing. But  be warned. Neena Gupta’s role is  dismayingly under-developed. We hardly meet this woman of substance who is the rubberstamp head  of  the  village  panchayat while  her husband (Raghuvir Yadav, who takes to the rural life like fish to water) rules. Neena  has only one  episode to herself and that’s the  final episode  where the actor and  her character come into their  own . This is   by far the  the  best episode  of  the  series.

The rest? They are teasing, heartwarming scenes from a rural life that is rapidly vanishing  from the cinematic radar. Hold on  to it.

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