Panchayat S2: Victory Of The Soul Of Storytelling

Season 2 matches, if not betters, the quality of season 1
Panchayat S2: Victory Of The Soul Of Storytelling

Amidst content that is full of yachts in a sea of colour-corrected waters, TVF's Panchayat arrives as the trusted two-wheeler that can guarantee a safe ride on pothole-filled roads. The problem with some of the recent Hindi language content has been that "Hindi" is incidental to the proceedings – more filler, less grammar. A placeholder for the language section rather than the actual language in the dialogues. The dialogues clearly appear as though they were thought of in English and then put through indecent transliteration. The sea might look aesthetic, but the pothole is the reality of everyday life.

Panchayat's beauty lies in its rootedness. The storytelling is fresh, but more importantly, authentic. Riding on the back of a hugely successful first season, it had the scope of falling into the trappings that such success brings. It does not, and that is half the battle won. Season 2 matches, if not betters, the quality of season 1. This season retains the same narrative arcs as the previous ones, minus the novelty of the characters. Yet, the minute changes and small moments are what become the strength of its storytelling. Abhishek (Jeetendra Kumar) is still the reluctant outsider, stuck in a mundane job in a sleepy village as he plans his escape through the MBA entrance exam. But the impatience has subdued. He is more accepting of the village, the villagers and this transient period in his life. One might also say that he has learnt to enjoy the good things the experience offers. As one of the best lines in the show goes, he has come to terms with the fact that "naach to sabhi rahe hain". I would not risk harming the essence of that phrase through translation.

The first episode opens with the song O Saathi Chal, subconsciously transporting the audience to a gentler time, away from ringing notifications and dwindling attention spans. It is these subtle nudges that work in favour of the show. The surgical strike-like precision to nab a person before they defecate in the open, the irony of planning an anti-addiction campaign with a drunk jeep driver, to lauki or not to lauki and myriad such moments, brought to life through the writing of Chandan Kumar, contribute to the brilliance of the series. Panchayat does not naively romanticize the village life (there is a bit about a friend turning up with such notions and leaving disappointed). Instead, through snippets of the characters' livese, it brings out evocative moments and the real romance of such living.

The ever-dependable Neena Gupta and Raghuvir Yadav as padhan and pradhan-pati remain the heart of the show. Prahlad (Faisal Malik) and Vikas (Chandan Roy) do what they did best in the first season – win over the audience through their innocent and affable presence. Even characters with comparatively lesser screen time like "Banrakas" Bhushan and his wife become memorable. This is when the show takes the turn that it did towards the finale and the impact hits home rather than coming off as a manipulative hack. In Phulera, writer Chandan Kumar and director Deepak Mishra have created a world where every character has elements that will remain for posterity.

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