Panchayat 2 should have stayed closer to genre than to life!

Jitendra Kumar in Amazon Prime Video’s Panchayat 2. Photo: Trailer Video Grab

An educated young man with lofty, obviously urban, ambitions, has to take on the post of a village secretary to make a living for a year while he gives his qualifying examinations and hopes for the best. Abhishek Tripathi (Jitendra Kumar) must settle in the village of Phulera in a mosquito-infested office-cum-home, attending to a largely lazy job and compelled to observe and deal closely with the quirky, unpredictable, even crazy bunch of villagers, headed by the village chief and family, and an ensemble of eccentric men and women.

That was Panchayat, the delightful 2020 surprise on the web, and at that point, one of the best comedy series among Hindi ones. And it still retains that position!

For Panchayat 2, which has just arrived on May 20, 2022, does not match up. It follows village life so closely and authentically that it moves away—too much—from its delightful original tenor of a subtle yet often hilarious comedy based in a village.

Probably not inspired to work harder, and take the easier route (comedy is the most difficult genre to create, see!), writer Chandan Kumar and director Deepak Kumar Mishra now dwell on the emotional, dramatic and not so congenial aspects of village life, bringing in internal politics—a trouble-making couple—and external trouble—an arrogant local leader. They also bring in the issues of roads not built, open defecation, the lack of toilet facilities and pre-election manipulative politics.

All these aspects could have been tackled with some hard work in ideation and writing in a humorous way. After all, that was what the USP and the very identity of Panchayat was, right?

There are increasing grayish shades here even among the positive characters, starting with the secretary-hero himself. There are fresher tracks like the hero’s friend finally coming for a surprise visit and crazy situations like a villager tracing his missing lamb through the village close-circuit camera network, or the case of the missing slippers. There is also a broader undercurrent of attraction between the pradhan’s daughter, Rinky (Sanvikaa) and Abhishek, but we also have pointless excursions like the demonstration in front of a train, a drunk driver of a van that has banners propagating the evils of alcohol and more.

As always, the duller aspects are “repaired” by a few notably zingy situations and a bevy of strong performances from the entire cast. Jitendra Kumar is super, but we still preferred his more vulnerable and confused avatar in Season 1. The series shows current Indian village life as it is, ditto the villagers, rather than present them as stereotypical clods. But a serious spoke in the wheel of this realism is the fact that the lead actor wears a new shirt in almost every sequence in an episode, not to be repeated again over the season! Now, how does Abhishek afford that on his measly salary?

Raghuveer Yadav and Neena Gupta are brilliant, and both have clearly gone deeper into their characters since season 1, ditto Chandan Roy as the office assistant. In the surprise but not entirely welcome end (no spoilers—but we do not expect such a culmination and the idea should have been to please audiences and not a handful of critics and die-hard fans!), Faizal Malik as Prahlad is magnificent. Among the motley rest, Durgesh Kumar as Bhushan, Sunita Rajwar as his quarrelsome wife and the actor who plays the villager looking for his lamb are extraordinary as well.

Wish the season was extraordinary as well!

Rating: *** (Just About)

Amazon Prime Video presents The Viral Fever’s Panchayat 2  Directed by: Deepak Kumar Mishra  Written by: Chandan Kumar  Music: Anurag Saikia Starring: Jitendra Kumar, Raghuveer Yadav, Neena Gupta, Chandan Roy, Faizal Malik, Sunita Rajwar, Durgesh Kumar, Sanvikaa, Satish Ray, Rajesh Jais & others






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