A sprawling Banyan tree, some old men with big turbans sitting underneath, dictating laws for the village and solving family feuds. Thanks to Bollywood and very fade civic lessons, this is the visual that comes to my mind when I hear the word ‘Panchayat’. If you are anything like me you will be pleasantly refreshed with TVF’s sketch of a modern day ‘Panchayat’.
From the zillion stories that can and have been pulled out from the remotest interiors of India, Panchayat is an interestingly ordinary one. Abhishek (Jeetendra Kumar) is an average city guy who is falling short of most things in life – marks, salary, placement, ambition etc. His mediocre achievements land him a government job as secretary (Sachiv) of Panchayat office in Phulera, UP. Few minutes into the first episode we meet three other men who eventually become the soul of this 8 episode story. Raghubir Yadav as Brij Bhushan the ‘Pradhan- pati’ is flawess as a big hearted laid back politician. Chandan Roy as Vikas the supportive and obedient office assistant is a great find and I am eagerly waiting to see more of him in coming times. The Deputy Pradhan , Prahlad (Faisal Malik) makes humour appear with his mere presence.
While his friend with an 12L CTC gives him pep talk from his air-conditioned office, Abhishek here spends his evenings peeling lauki (fresh from the farm mind you) in his desolate office cum home. Every episode, he finds himself in the middle of unique personal or professional home-grown conflicts which are as simple as getting a revolving chair for his desk or getting a social advertisement painted on a wall.
Through each episode we see a simple and warm world unfolding on our screens, which might be the least affected by the ‘modern-ness’ of isolation. This little village is self- equipped. Their problems are simple and solutions are simpler. It is refreshing to look at rural India through a non-Bollywood lens. It’s neither exaggerated nor romanticized. No goons, no messiah, no dramatic twists. Do not expect romance, comedy, revelations and politics. But there is all of it, in subtlety.
TVF once again proves its might with Panchayat. The genius of the narrative lies in keeping us invested in a story where nothing extraordinary happens. Their immersive and straight from the heart storytelling grows on you steadily and when it ends, it leaves you with a lingering smile, somehow reminiscent of Malgudi Days.
What we needed was more of Neena Gupta though. But maybe that’s left for the second season.