'Panchayat 2' review: More of the same, gently
Panchayat creates movement in a state of inertia. That is its greatest USP. In the first season veterans, Neena Gupta and Raghuvir Yadav were laudable for playing the gram sarpanch and her husband
In the small sleepy Hamlet of North India—with some of the accents purposely overdone—the dilemma this time is, To Pee Or Not To Pee?
That’s the question.
Toilets have been allotted to the inhabitants of Phulera (is it in Rajasthan or Uttar Pradesh? Wise Wiki says it’s UP). But they still have to answer the call of Nature in the fields: the toilet seats are missing. Such scatological irony is rampant in rustic serials where ‘hug’ doesn’t mean an embrace and where the characters are constantly talking about food, indigestion and related afflictions that come to those who live from meal to meal.
In that sense Panchayat in its second season is a ‘meal’stone achievement. Its characters are starkly inert. A CCTV instalment becomes a big event in the sleepy town. Two women battle nastily over a pair of missing sleepers and their husbands must perforce take sides to please their wives. I must say the female characters in Panchayat display a lot more enterprise than the men who are simply happy to be.
An anonymous caller crank-calls the Sarpanch’s daughter offering to buy her a flat in Delhi in exchange of marriage although she doesn’t know him, a railway roko campaign goes horribly wrong when the protesters are yanked off their duty by the cops (“the next time you want to lie down on the tracks make sure there are no cops around,” counsels a wry cop), a village simpleton is instigated into revolting against the gram panchayat, a long-pending promise to build a road in the village gets pushed around in bureaucratic bungling.
All this is part and parcel of a world where nothing moves. Panchayat creates movement in a state of inertia. That is its greatest USP. In the first season veterans, Neena Gupta and Raghuvir Yadav were hugely laudable for playing the gram sarpanch and her husband with a ‘binge’ of salt. They were generously rustic and vinegary, with an over-the-top supporting cast that sported Bihari accents although the setting seems to be Rajasthan.
Small world, I guess.
The series’ protagonist Abhishek Tripathi(Jitendra Kumar) has a romantic interest this season. His awkwardness during the courtship is ably expressed by the actor. But there is an absence of excitement in the character’s life which the actor is not able to articulate authoritatively. Is Tripathi a dreamer, a failure or simply a slacker? Whatever it is that keeps him from growing as a character I don’t see Panchayat going into another season.