Panchayat season 3 review: Phulera village tumbles but retains its charm!

Sakshi Sharma
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Panchayat season 3 review

Panchayat season 3 review

The much-awaited Panchayat season 3 manages to reign in its magic of rooted storytelling but stumbles a little when it tries to shift its gear and tonality! 

In this world of chaos simplicity can be extremely comforting. No wonder TVF's Panchayat became a household favorite with its urban gaze on the rural lifestyle. Its comforting comedy wrapped in a punching message delivered a striking hit, proving that comedy is the best way to say something strong. But while season one was the much-needed slice-of-life drama and second season showed us the nitty-gritties of village life as a sharp contrast, the third season falls short and feels like the weakest of all. It retains the magic and charm of the previous seasons but cannot match up to the legacy that they left behind.

After the devastating end of last season, we enter Phulera without Abhishek (Jitendra Kumar) as Sachiv Ji comes back to his original position in the second episode which marks the show's return to its usual form but only for a few episodes. Beyond that, sudden tonal confusions and loud, spoon feeding background scores make this eight-episode season an attempt at trying to find a balance between what Panchayat was and what it wants to be. We get to see a political coup as Bhushan (Durgesh Kumar) and the party siding with the MLA (Pankaj Jha) plan to overthrow Pradhan Ji (Raghubir Yadav) ensuing gang wars, a budding romance between Abhishek and Rinki (Sanvikaa), and a village standing against a person in power. 

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This season, the writer Chandan Kumar and director Deepak Kumar Mishra seem to be struggling to trust their original instinctive voice vs the mainstream approach of web shows. It's as if the show has borrowed Abhishek's insecurities and anxieties now that he is all grown up, calm, and well-settled in this rural lifestyle. Hence, the mundane linearity of life is constantly pitted against dramatic narrative tropes of hero vs. villain and the show's hear, which lies with trivial village issues that turn into emotional commentary, takes a back seat. This season focusing on village politics and panchayat elections released during the country's Lok Sabha elections is rather intriguing. With all its MLA's ridiculousness and ego wars, it makes for timely satire even though it's not entirely effective. Even the questionable spotlight on Pradhan Ji's lack of leadership skills, who only clings to his kursi and vote bank politics, is thought-provoking yet not thoroughly explored. But seeing Manju Devi's (Neena Gupta) rise as a formidable, sharp politician was definitely delightful!

Apart from this, there were many moments of rural kingship that became one's solace in contrast to urban loneliness. It blurs the show's fictitious line and becomes a source of emotional connection! For example, when they struggle to take an old woman to the hospital in the middle of the night, the whole debacle of who the PM Garib Awas Yojana house belongs to, the way Vikas, and Pradhan Ji's families take care of a grief-stricken and drunken Prahlad (Faisal Mallik) or his honest confession about feeling lonely living alone in a huge house. If season one was about Abhishek finding himself, and two was about Phulera being more than just a pitstop in Abhishek's journey, then season three makes the teddy bear-like Prahlad the silent protagonist of the show whose inability to move on from his son's death and his shape-shifting grief hits you like a bolt and becomes one of the most honest portrayals of grief onscreen. But the comedic punches of the show are sometimes a hit, otherwise a miss. My favorite moment has to be from the last episode where grown men from two different gangs end up fighting each other with cane sticks!

What can be said about the show's ensemble cast that hasn't already been said? Their seep-through, live-in performances elevate the show to give it its cult status power. But hats off to the Casting Bay for always always surprising us with their choices. The show has inevitably zoomed out of Phulera to focus on broader strokes and more characters yet reigns in the familiarity of the village. From known faces seen in season one, the friendship of the four, to the panchayat office and lanes, we now know the place like the back of our hands. To Panchayat season three's credit, it does bank upon this nostalgia making it a heartwarming, funny, comfortable show that leaves a lot with you. But it's just that it misses that mark of a delicate dance between sweet and sour, serious and funny to become a show that explores fragile, insecure, egoistic masculinity that it did so successfully earlier. This panchayat is all grown up and messy and makes me miss the panchayateness of the Panchayat

Panchayat season 3 is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video

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