Panchayat deals with a refreshingly new subject: Neena Gupta

The web series revolves around an engineering graduate who is forced to take up a government job at a panchayat office in a remote village of Uttar Pradesh; Gupta plays the role of the village Pradhan

Photo courtesy- social media
Photo courtesy- social media

Murtaza Ali Khan

The new Amazon Prime series Panchayatmarks the second collaboration between Prime Video and The Viral Fever (TVF) following the popular 2019 seriesHostel Daze. The eight-part comedy-drama series stars the likes of Neena Gupta, RaghubirYadav, Jitendra Kumar and Biswapati Sarkar in pivotal roles.

The series revolves around an engineering graduate who is forced to step out of his comfort zone in order to take up a government job at a panchayat office in a remote village of Uttar Pradesh. For actor Neena Gupta, it was the interesting subject that got her hooked.

“Panchayathas a very refreshingly new subject. It’s a village-based thing but with a very interesting story around it. TVF approached me for the quirky part of Manju Devi. She is the village Pradhan and a homemaker. I had heard a lot about TVF that they do very good work. So I was very positive from the onset. I told them to send me the script. On reading the script, I really liked the main idea. It is not just a light-hearted show but it says a lot in the end. And a lot of that happens through me character, especially towards the end,” reveals Gupta.

Neena was equally excited by the opportunity to work with RaghubirYadav. “One of the reasons why I said ‘Yes’ to Panchayatwas because it allowed me with the opportunity to work with RaghubirYadav after a very long time. I have known him for ages and have high regards for him. He is a great actor with a wonderful sense of humour. We are playing a couple in the series. It was great fun. At the time, I didn’t know Jitendra very well. He came across as a very quiet guy during the shoot. I came to know him much better while doing Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan,” recounts Gupta.

The series is shot in Bhopal and often the cast had to battle extreme conditions during the shoot. “We have shot the series in Bhopal. We shot in a very hot climate in a village and so everything was open. I must appreciate director Deepak Kumar Mishra for trying to be perfect. I mean he really had the clarity and determination. Often we would battle with extreme heat and dust storms but he never backed down from going for retakes. Sometimes that would require us to take long breaks. Personally, I was very well looked after. Overall, it was a great experience,” avers Gupta.

Gupta who hasn’t seen many TVF shows herself believes that content is the ultimate king today. “While I haven’t seen a lot of TVF shows, the one TVF show that I fondly remember isFathers Vol.1 with GajrajRao and Jitendra. I think the times are changing now. This is a content driven age whether it’s the web or the films. I was away for almost 10 years as I had said in my Instagram post about a couple of years ago. Fortunately this comeback has happened at just the right time for me.

Things have changed so muchin the recent years. Today, there are so many different platforms and a lot of people are doing some amazing work. People are willing to take chances with new subjects. If I had done the Insta post 6-8 years ago,I don’t think I would have got such good work despite the post,” opines Gupta. Gupta has had a long stint in television and films and now she is all set to create an impression on the web with Panchayat.

“For an actor on any platform the acting remains the same. There is a small screen and there is a big screen and so naturally there are some minor adjustments that an actor has to make. Say in cinema, during a very big close-up, you have to cut down on your expressions a little bit in order to control them better.

Barring that, the process for me more or less remains the same,” explains Gupta. Her upcoming projects include SandeepAur Pinky Faraar, The Last Color, and a webseries called MasabaMasaba. She is also doing a film with Nikhil Advani which hasn’t been titled yet.

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