Panchayat Season 3 Series Review: Good, bad and more of the same

Panchayat Season 3 Series Review: Good, bad and more of the same

Jitendra Kumar, Raghubir Yadav and Neena Gupta return to the slow life of village Phulera
Panchayat Season 3(2.5 / 5)

Some series are more worlds than narratives. Calming, soothing worlds. Over three seasons, what has appealed to me in Panchayat is the portrayal of the still life of the village. Its lead Abhishek (Jitendra Kumar), sitting in his room at the Panchayat office, a CAT preparatory book in hand, looking at the fields outside the window. Or, in this season, Prahlad (Faisal Malik) taking an afternoon nap on a cot under the rustle of a neem tree (after gulping half a bottle of Old Monk, but that’s another story). The USP of Panchayat is that it flows at the pace of life. It isn’t desperate to excite. It is comforting, like a sitcom. The makers don’t add elements to spice things up. They invite you to lounge in this world. Sit back, relax. It's just that comfort can sometimes become boring.

Cast: Jitendra Kumar, Raghubir Yadav, Neena Gupta, Chandan Roy, Faisal Malik, Durgesh Kumar, Pankaj Jha

Streamer: Amazon Prime Video

After the heartrending finale last season, we are back, getting a bird’s eye view of the sleepy Phulera village. A plumpy new secretary can be seen on a motorbike, riding towards the Panchayat office. After an altercation with the MLA Chandra Kishore (Pankaj Jha) in season 2, our beloved sachiv ji Abhishek has been transferred to another village. He is back home in the city, mulling over resigning during cigarette breaks. Things, however, get resolved quickly (read conveniently). The vidhayak (MLA) gets convicted in a case of killing a dog. An amusing touch but which ultimately starts feeling stretched.

Expectedly, Abhishek returns to the gram life. The plan is the same: prepare for CAT, give the exam and get out. However, this plotline has lost its urgency. The fact is that Abhishek came back when he could have left. His existentialism, which was simmering in between scenes in the previous seasons (a lot of them involved smoking), seems to be sidelined for now. There are other things to be worried about. Vice-pradhan Prahlad is coping with his son’s death, Pradhan ji (Raghubir Yadav) and wife Manju Devi (Neena Gupta) are trying to hold onto their chairs with Bhushan (Durgesh Kumar) and gang joining forces with the MLA. Sahayak (assistant) Vikas (Chandan Roy, on the other hand, is dealing with marital responsibilities. Love is slow-blooming between Abhishek and the Pradhan’s daughter Rinki. They should have held hands by now, but their romance is still stuck in avoiding each other’s gaze.

It's not bad, but Panchayat Season 3 is more or less the same. It feels less like a definitive season, more like a bunch of bonus episodes from previous instalments. It is admirable that the makers Deepak Kumar Mishra and Chandan Roy have not given in to excesses, adulterating the simplicity of their storytelling. However, nothing new is brought to the table. The simple, quirky problems of the village folk don’t find much space this time. The focus is on battling the MLA and protecting the village’s dignity. Some character arcs remain stagnant, while others dawdle. Faisal Malik’s Prahlad remains interesting while Durgesh’s Bhushan becomes repetitive. Abhishek’s desires get forgotten in the humdrum of village life. There are laugh-out-loud moments but they are few and far apart. With its latest seasonPanchayat transforms itself into a hangout show. Come and chill, because nothing really matters, or happens.

Cinema Express