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Jitendra Kumar: “Panchayat   brings a smile to peoples faces”




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  Kumar 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.”

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  Kumar 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.”

 Jitendra  Kumar  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  Kumar 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  Kumar 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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