Web Series Review: Panchayat on Prime Video
|No. of Episodes||8|
|Lead Cast||Jitendra Kumar, Neena Gupta, Raghubir Yadav|
|Director||Deepak Kumar Mishra|
The story begins with the beginning of the ‘real’ life of a fresh college graduate, Abhishek Tripathi. Struggling with life choices, he finds himself stuck in a low paid government job as secretary of a panchayat office in a remote village of Uttar Pradesh namely, Phulera. Born and brought up in an urban set up, how will he ever adapt with the village life?
It might just seem as a single sited struggle of Abhishek, trying to adjust to his new surroundings, but in real it’s a multidimensional story that sites multiple issues. The initial displacement of the protagonist from a comfortable urban set up to entirely an outlandish environment of village, is what creates a string of events to follow. The way in which humour is woven, rather intricately within the fabric of the narrative, is genius. Every episode carries a theme, which runs beautifully in collaboration to the main story of the protagonist’s life and its adjustments.
Though it talks about various issues, the presentation of rural India as ‘real India’, is simply a promotion of the much-condemned stereotype of ‘what India truly is’. India is made from the richness of its diversity, not just in religions and languages but also in its variant degrees of modernization. The remote village is certainly the ‘real India’, but so are the cities with their vibrant cultures, a part of India’s ‘realness’. Other than this, the story picks up a lot of issues and does a flawless work in explaining them.
The representation leaves no space for misinterpretation. The themes that guide each episode, as the story progresses, require an accurate representation of an impactful outcome. It’s been successful in doing so. So along with the ‘perfectly portrayed struggle’ that the protagonist goes through, we are also told about issues like- superstition, women empowerment, dowry, corruption, and much more.
Most of the time for the sake of mainstream representation, the organic aesthetics are compromised, but here the direction has done a brilliant job in keeping the aesthetics as original as possible. It doesn’t feel ‘made-up’ and that’s what makes it an offbeat perspective.
All the characters add up to the grace of the entire series. We usually think that the protagonist would be a heroic figure, with adventurous traits, but here the character of Abhishek Tripathi is shown as regular a person, as any of us.
Jitendra Kumar has worked immensely well in maintaining this ‘average’ persona. Neena Gupta’s art is already well known, her character of Manju Devi is raw and organic in its display. She’s able to exclaim the shrewdness that the character demanded. The support actors, Chandan Roy and Faisal Malik, have been no less in their contribution to make this a
brilliant series, going aptly well with the milieu.
Scenes, YOU JUST CAN’T MISS
With absolutely no intentions to ruin your experience, we present to you some note-worthy instances in the series, that you cannot miss watching.
Episode 2: There’s a classic ghost tale, in every village and so, there is a ‘bhootha ped’ (ghost tree) in Phulera too. Now it’s on Abhishek to see that whether he’d be risking his life to prove the superstition wrong and what would he do it for, anyway? Not ruining any suspense for you, but you should be ready to laugh your guts out, for this ironical climax of the famous Bhootha Ped.
Episode 3: There could not be a better representation of how the ‘Baraat’ is treated and dowry asked for, in marriage transactions. The best scene accounts for the parody like treatment of the groom and his friends when they’re waiting. The groom gets into a small tussle with the protagonist over a petty issue and finds his ego utterly crushed when Abhishek gives him a verbal blow. That’s a scene, you just can’t miss.
Episode 8: It’s the Republic Day and the Pradhan of Phulera must hoist the flag and sing the national anthem. But who is the Pradhan? Manju Devi is seen to be the boss of the house, irrespective of her husband being the Pradhan of the village (that too because of her name and his virtue). So technically, she must hoist the flag. But her husband who’s taken her office for so long, has been doing so for all these years. The luck plays against him and the District Magistrate pays a visit to the village just when the flag is to be hoisted. It is this embarrassing situation, that makes it absurdly humorous. Manju Devi must reach the site as soon as possible or her (technically her husband’s) power will be in danger.
Why You Should Watch?
You can certainly measure tons of parallels between the world of a village and that of a city. But more importantly, we see a certain innocence in people born and brought up in this organic world which is away from materialism. The (not so heroic) protagonist, mirrors the audience and shows them the reality of life in village, which comes with its own set of comforts and discomforts. The themes that run through the series are picked with an intention to present not just a one folded, but a multidimensional package of experiences. Where urban cities are built with walls that differentiate the personal with public, you are shown the world where what is personal is also public. The simplicity of the lifestyle shown, will give you the correct essence of village life.
Go ahead, watch it right now!
Also, the aesthetic of the introductory video, along with the music chosen, right before the episode begins (that we usually skip)? Is beautiful. It’s an introduction you’d want to watch all the 8 times, in the beginning of all the 8 episodes. Weird, but true.