Panchayat Season 3: A joyous return to the village of Phulera

Director Deepak Kumar Mishra does a wonderful job in mixing humor with emotions. The rural politics add a new dimension to the show

Starcast: Jitendra Kumar, Neena Gupta, Raghubir Yadav, Faisal Malik, Chandan Roy and others
Director: Deepak Kumar Mishra
Writer: Chandan Kumar
Producer: Arunab Kumar
Production Company: The Viral Fever
Music: Anurag Saikia
No of episodes: 8
Streaming site: Amazon Prime

For those who haven’t seen the two seasons of Panchayat the plot is about a young man Abhishek Tripati (Jitendra Kumar). Abhishek takes up the position of a panchayat secretary for lack of better options. In the first two seasons the viewers saw Abhishek getting himself acclimatized to the ways of a remote district situated in Ballia (Utter Pradesh). He forms a bond with the locals particularly the ones played by Raghubir Yadav, Neena Gupta, Faisal Malik and Chandan Roy.

Season 3 begins with Abhishek back in the city. At the end of the second season, he was axed from his job. A new secretary comes to the village to take his place but in a sudden twist of events Abhishek gets reinstated. His friendship with the village head /Pradhan Manju Devi (Neena Gupta) and the husband (Raghubir Yadav) has reached a strong level. There is also the pronounced romance between him and Pradhan’s daughter Rinky (Sanvika). Sure, there is no confession but for viewers it is apparent that they have grown fond of each other. Faisal Malik’s Prahalad is the depressed father who is still grappling with the death of his son. Chandan Roy’s Vikas is juggling between multiple duties job, married life and also being a pillar of support for Prahalad. Things take a turn when the arch army of Pradhan Bhushan (Durgesh Kumar) and co plan to settle old scores with the help of a local MLA. This leads to a major upheaval in the village ahead of the Panchayat elections, Abhishek finds himself in a tangle, he is sandwiched between village politics and aspirations of a higher job.

A strong aspect of Panchayat Season 3 is the director’s integration of the grassroot politics. There is a palpable intensity in the political rivalry that reflects the current times. Director Deepak Kumar Mishra deserves an appreciation for how he has dwelled into village politics and corruption at the grassroot level while maintaining the humor.

The love angle between Abhishek and Rinky is also fun to watch. On certain occasions she is the one who takes the lead. The light scenes between them work as a perfect contrast to the intense politics playing out. Sanvikaa does well in her limited role.

Neena Gupta’s character has come a long way, she has finally come out of her husband’s shadow. in this season Manju Devi participates actively in the council meetings and also voices her opinions without any fear showing a refreshingly different side. But just like the second season this time too the show could have done with more of Neena Gupta.

Apart from the political aspect the director also deserves appreciation for how he has dealt with the themes of mental health, loneliness, financial independence etc. through multiple characters. Both Chandan Roy and Faisal Malik continue to be an important pillar for the show. The character arcs of both is another plus. Jitender Kumar is good as always particularly in the moments of intensity.

Although gripping for most part some of the writing could have been better. For example, the role of MLA’s daughter doesn’t serve much purpose. Also, you have a person who joins a strike out of blue with hardly any build up.

These small niggles aside Panchayat Season 3 is a good follow up to the first two seasons particularly for those who like village-based stories.

Sach Kahoon Toh: An Insightful Account Of Neena Gupta’s Life

Released on 14th June 2021

Neena Gupta’s Sach Kahoon Toh is an autobiography which makes for an interesting read at many levels. Most of all it is a book which is filled with honesty. This honesty is visible from the foreword itself. The foreword begins with her saying that “I know many readers are waiting to get the juicy bits of my life. Don’t lie. I know there’s a part of you that only picked up the book to read about my relationships and controversies that have been part of my media image for decades now.” Through the book Neena Gupta challenges the assumptions that people have about her.

Sach Kahoon Toh is divided into five parts. The five parts are her growing years in Delhi, life in Bombay, giving birth to Masaba, the downside of her career and the eventual resurgence starting with the superhit Badhaai Ho which was a major turning point in her career. In the last section she writes about her family members and these include mother, father, brother, daughter and her husband Vivek. There is also the chapter on Vivian Richards and her affair with him which resulted in the birth of Masaba, however the details are kept to a bare minimum. But that chapter has also got interesting anecdotes as she gives the background of how their paths met in Jaipur.

For any autobiography to work it is important that you bare your soul out which includes talking about your flaws and Neena does that for most part. There are times in the book where she comes across as someone who lacked faith in herself and her talent apart from being easy to manipulate at times. This comes out particularly when she talks about her early boyfriend who cheats her multiple times but she still gives him chances. Candid confessions like these make the book an interesting read.

Her friendships with Soni Razdan and Satish Kaushik comes across vividly and these portions are very heart-warming. An interesting detail has to be mentioned here regarding Satish Kaushik. He once told Neena to tell people that he is the father of Masaba if people ask who the father is. The reason being the color of Masaba and Satish matches. It is a small incident but it tells you a lot about the friendship between him and Neena Gupta.

Neena Gupta, daughter Masaba

Another good thing about the book is Neena Gupta doesn’t go overboard with details about Vivian Richards. She treats that phase of her life with respect and never sensationalizes it. You also get a peep into the personality of Vivian Richards.