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Panchayat 2, More Of The Same, Gently




Panchayat Season 2 (Amazon Prime Video)

Directed by Deepak Mishra

Rating: ***

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  ironyis  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 husband 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 keep him from growing as  a character  I don’t see Panchayat  going into another season.

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