Welcome back to director Deepak Kumar Mishra’s pleasantly different village setting where fields, friendships and organic feminism interplay with one another for a breezy human story filled with a variety of emotions.
Music Anurag Saikia has a jaunty signature tune for the opening credits as the eight-episode second season begins and ends with overweight Prahlad (Faisal Malik), the Deputy Pradhan of Phulera, leaving poignancy and politics hanging in the air for the next instalment.
In the first season, writer Chandan Kumar established engineer Abhishek Tripathi (Jitendra Kumar), Secretary of the Panchayat, moving to Phulera only as a stop-gap arrangement before he does his MBA and steams into a well-paying corporate job. To help him assimilate to the village culture and its people was his assistant Vikas (Chandan Roy). And typically, Brij Bhushan Dubey (Raghubir Yadav) continued to be called Pradhanji although wife Manju Devi (Neena Gupta) had replaced him officially.
The warmth and the characters set in the first season spill over as a hint of romantic chemistry between Abhishek and Pradhanji’s daughter Rinki (Sanvikaa) continues rather sweetly even as her parents fix an arranged match for her.
Selling the village mud to a contractor without floating a tender, a trip to a nearby village for a bit of raunchy dancing to “Paracetamol” (instead of Fevicol), some eye-opening gyaan from the dancer who points out to Abhishek that he’s dancing to somebody’s tunes too, and the lady District Magistrate paying a surprise visit to check if Phulera deserves its ODF (Open Defecation Free) tag, make it cheerful while several reality points are made.
Petty politics in the village, the nasty side of electoral compulsions and the compromises in an arranged match seep into the episodes topped with an MLA who abuses and misuses power and people.
There’s grief and loss too.
But the writing cleverly has parallel chuckle tracks that keep it light while giving due respect to the heavier side of pain and politics. There’s humorous irony too like the alcoholic driver of a jeep that’s to go around Phulera to disseminate an anti-addiction message.
Sometime in between, a corporate friend’s romantic notions about village life get dispelled after a hand pump, a slithering snake and buffalo’s horns send him scuttling back to the city.
With lauki (bottle gourd) and jackfruit as gifts, and CCTV cameras used to find a missing goat or missing chappals, the rural feel is tangible. Women are also presented likeably. Women can get cranky when they fast all day on occasions like Teej but they can also gang up and show how to stand up to a bully. Such neat touches of feminism are different from the strident women power slogans seen all too often on OTT.
Perhaps it’s this general feeling of a life that’s so real and so far away from the urban fare flooding entertainment screens that makes Panchayat as fulfilling as a village thali.
Watch Panchayat Season 2 Trailer:
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