It was a challenge shooting in a remote village: Jitendra Kumar shares his experiences about ‘Panchayat’ 

‘Panchayat’ a web series on Amazon featuring Jitendra Kumar, the bright natural actor is currently streaming across homes throughout India

Photo courtesy- social media
Photo courtesy- social media

Subhash K Jha

Panchayat a  10-episode webseries on Amazon featuring Jitendra Kumar, the bright natural actor who played Ayushmann Khurrana’s gay partner in the film Shubh Mangal Zyada Savdhan, is currently streaming  across homes  throughout India.

Jitendra is happy about the captive viewership. “People are  confined to their homes right now. Panchayat  brings  a smile to their faces. It’s  a light take on village life. We shot it in a remote village named Mahodia in the Sehore district of Madhya Pradesh. There was  no  place to stay for our crew in the village, so we would drive down from the nearest town every morning, shoot till sunset and go back to the village.”

It was a challenge shooting in a remote village: Jitendra Kumar shares his experiences about ‘Panchayat’ 

Jitendra who comes from a small town Khairtal in Rajasthan says it was easy for him to  identify  with the village and its problems. “Villages started  just a few miles from where I grew up. So I know about  the problems of village  life. What we see in Panchayat is the real rural life. The village wears  a deserted look. There’s no respite from the sunshine  during the day time and  no electricity during the night. I couldn’t see a single young person during shooting. I was told the young have  all gone to the city. There were only the  old  people  and  children  in  the village.”

Jitendra who is no stranger  to the digital  platform says it was a challenge working  in a remote village.  “I lost so much of my hair working in that climate. But I gained so much. Like my character Abhishek Tripathy I always  thought of a panchayat the way we see  it in  our movies:  a group of villagers assembled under a tree. But that is not the way  a village panchayat functions. There is a proper office  and meetings are  held  formally  with appointments for  the complainants.”

It was a challenge shooting in a remote village: Jitendra Kumar shares his experiences about ‘Panchayat’ 

Jitendra hopes  the webseries will create some awareness about village life. “Normally the serials I do  have me playing rural characters migrating to the  city. This  is  the  first time I’m playing  a  character  who moves the other way, from the city to the  village.”

However  Jitendra  is quick to point out that  Panchayat  purports  to  entertain and not preach . “We  need a bit of sunshine during these troubled times.I binge-watched all the  episodes at home and  enjoyed myself thoroughly. The endeavour is to provide entertainment . The message  on rural life is  not  hammered in.”

The  spontaneous actor who regaled us  earlier  in the web series Kota Factory says  the digital platform is no different  from a feature film. “When we  were shooting Panchayat we  were not thinking of the platform where it will be released. We worked on it  with full dedication. The  differences comes in later  in the  volume of viewers  that we get on the OTT platform and  the casual attitude  of the audience.”

Jitendra loved  re-uniting with Neena  Gupta. “She  played my mother in Shubh Mangal Zyada Savdhan. She  now plays  the head of the village panchayat. She plays a woman who  knows her  mind and  looks after her home and serves her official duties without fuss. Neenaji’s passion for her work is truly  inspiring.”

Jitendra  says he didn’t get a  chance to enjoy the success of Shubh Mangal Zyada Savdhan. “I got so many messages and calls from people who identified with  my  character. But before I could reap any benefits  the  Corona virus  broke out. Never mind! I am sure I will restart from where  we left out as soon the situation normalizes.”

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