Panchayat 3 begins on track, loses way totally

Chandan Roy, Faisal Malik, Jitendra Kumar and Raghubir Yadav in Panchayat 3. Photo: Trailer Video Grab

Panchayat was a great show, one of the greatest non-crime / light drama Indian web series of all time—in Season 1. But not all shows can maintain standards. Season 2 was an appalling comedown. And I wondered how Season 3 would be. And as of now, they have even left a door open for Season 4!

Coming to Season 3, it begins well, and I expected that the series will again be in Season 1 quality terrain. Of course, the humor element was much less and the emotions and drama much more, but since the show wasn’t exactly marketed or intended as a mere comedy, that was okay.

The subtle humor that differentiated a Basu Chatterjee movie from a Hrishikesh Mukherjee one, however, soon cannot rescue the contrived dramas and “thrills” (!!) that are devised by the scriptwriters. It is clear by episode 5 of 8 that inspiration is running dry rather too fast and that eight episodes must be somehow fabricated to ensure than loyal fans get their fill.

But fill of what? Absurd shenanigans? Unfunny situations? Silly dramas? As Panchayat 3’s last episode begins, I began to wonder what it is (apart from pecuniary gains, that is!) that makes people and in this case even the OTT platform (that has disappointed in the last 24 months oftener and has been relying more on ‘hyped’ successes) insist on sequels that have little point and littler substance.

Here and there, a sequence or a situation elicits a chuckle, or touches your emotional core. But that’s few and far between. In the entire series, I failed to understand why someone like a Bhushan (Durgesh Kumar) is against his own people when he wants to be elected the village Pradhan (chief). Can sucking up to a corrupt MLA (Pankaj Jha, outstanding) and antagonizing his people achieve that end ever?

The sentiments of Prahlad (Faisal Malik) and his detachment from the five million he has received as a martyr’s father become very repetitious though the astute actor’s expressions and body language carry the day most of the time. The ‘maybe-maybe not’ aura of the Abhishek (Jitendra Kumar)-Rinki (Sanvikaa) romance begins to play heavily on my patience in the way it is repeatedly projected.

I was genuinely amused by the clumsy would-be assailants of Bam Bahadur (Amit Kumar Maurya), the sequence of the MLA’s emotional separation from the horse, and the introductory sequence of the ‘substitute’ sachiv (village secretary) was quite funny. If this same kind of level had been maintained in the drama with far better content, this show would have been something else.

Ganesh (Aasif Khan)’s sudden change in favor of the villagers who had not exactly been good to this ‘son-in-law’ is not convincing, and nor is the way the series ends. In short, the writing and direction simply do not measure up, and it is no consolation whatsoever that the Season is still better than the poorly conceived Season 2.

Jitendra Kumar does not make any extra effort to delve deeper into his character, and I lost count of his checked shirts—some premium should have been put on authenticity in a drama that the writer once said was about realism: for a secretary posted in a village and aiming at an MBA degree, he seems to be rolling in shorts if not money!

Even Raghubir Yadav and Neena Gupta become a shade mechanical—or should the word be ‘disinterested’? As their daughter, Sanvikaa salvages her weakly developed character and Chandan Roy is his usual self as Abhishek’s happy-go-lucky assistant, Vikas. I liked Gaurav Singh, who played Chuttan, Vishal Yadav as Jagmohan and the two cohorts of Bhushan—they give the uneducated village youngsters’ roles the right flavors.

Abha Sharma as the cute yet conniving Ammaji is a cracker of a delight and Tripti Sahoo also impresses in her small role as Vikas’ wife Khushboo. Wish the show too had been an impressive delight.





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