‘Panchayat’ Season 3: A subtle commentary on power, politics and elections

It is towards the end of the show that the BDO, played by Diwakar Dhyani, smirks, “Jhagda-jhanjhat, maara-peeti…ab jaa ke lag raha hai panchayat election aa gaya hai… (Rising fights, violence are signalling that the Panchayat elections are near)”. One instantly knows that the third season of Panchayat is a subtle commentary on the ongoing election season and the drama that follows. Raw, rustic and real is what comes to mind when you watch the series. The Jitendra Kumar starrer carries on its legacy of a steady yet intriguing storyline from its first season but returns with added plot twists and a sense of resolution. 

The Viral Fever’s (TVF) creation that has been streaming on Amazon Prime Video has more drama and substance than its predecessor season. The show revolves around Abhishek Tripathi, who wants to pursue an MBA, stuck in a village posting as he gets appointed as the secretary of the Phulera panchayat. His struggle to remain away from village politics, preparations for his exam, reluctant relationships that form in the process, make the crux of the plot. 
This season one hooked one episode after another as sachivji’s (Panchayat secretary) transfer is cancelled and he returns to his position in Phulera. With him back in position and the impending Panchayat elections, power politics take center stage. A miffed vidhayak (legislator) (played by Pankaj Jha) and a scheming contender Bhushan (played by Durgesh Kumar) team up on the other hand as the struggle for power intensifies. The fight for the position of Pradhan (village head) (gets tougher while friendship between Sachivji and Rinki (Sanvikaa) further solidifies. From pointing guns at each other to the season ending with everyone in handcuffs, each episode promises the simplicity of rustic charm yet excites and entertains.

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The events preceding the panchayat elections in the show mirror the real-life menace triggered before the polls begin. From loopholes in the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana being manipulated to what could be a satirical take on the hypocrisy around eating non-vegetarian (read beef) food – hints seem aplenty to the current socio-political climate.

Jitendra Kumar is his usual self in a role tailor made for him, his au naturale character portrayal, body language and expressions delight the eyes. In recent years, Kumar has gone on to become the unconventional superstar of OTT cinema, portraying each role with ease and leaving behind strong impressions.
Veterans Neena Gupta and Raghubir Yadav never fail to entertain with their performances that match perfection. Gupta puts on a display of her versatility as she yet again dons the saree to transform into pradhaan – a stark contrast to her recent critically acclaimed project Mast Mein Rehne Ka and antagonists Pankaj Jha and Durgesh Kumar add the necessary complications to the plot in their negative roles. Even supporting actors Sunita Rajwar, Chandan Roy, Faisal Malik and Aasif Khan promise a strong screen presence.

Panchayat, in a nutshell, is a series that stands in stark contrast to today’s content that often feeds on gore and violence. In an exclusive conversation with THE WEEK, director of the show Deepak Kumar Mishra talks about what led them to make a show that reminds one of the TV shows of the ’90s.

“It was a conscious attempt that we make something similar to what we would watch growing up on TV. But that was not the only thought. The attempt was to capture modern contemporary India’s village system and democracy at the grassroots level. That was also the intention.” He says nobody had comprehended that the show would receive such response and love. “Everyone makes content with the belief that it will work. The audience’s response only comes after the release. We had never thought of such a great response to our content. We were confident of our plot, characters and storyline. The only fear was that will anyone watch our show.”

He reveals that the fourth season of the show is being written while storylines are being discussed for the fifth season. This season becomes a must-watch if one has watched the first two. This becomes the show’s best season so far, leaving enough room for the story to roll over into the next!