Season 2 of the TVF comedy-drama series “Panchayat” astonishingly brings back the same charm that it had spread all throughout its first season, and in many ways, perhaps even adds on to its depth. While season 1 was almost like an initiation for the protagonist, Abhishek Tripathi, and also for us audiences, to daily life in Phulera and its problems, the new season takes more political and social matters into consideration. The show’s writing and acting performances remain top-notch, and where the new season flourishes more than its predecessor is in successfully portraying all shades of emotions. With season 2, “Panchayat” holds the potential to make one cry as much as it makes one laugh, and remains an absolute must-watch.
‘Panchayat’ Season 2: Plot Summary – What Is The New Season About?
After Abhishek Tripathi’s unsuccessful attempt at the CAT exams, the panchayat secretary lives on in the quaint village of Phulera for one more year of administrative work and his own preparations for an MBA. However, the young man is now more settled with village life and has fewer bursts of frustration than before. He now gives off the sense that, as the panchayat secretary, he is able to look at the villagers’ unique problems as his own. His bond with the three colleagues—ex-Pradhan Brij Bhushan Dubey, deputy-Pradhan Prahlad Pandey, and office assistant Vikas—is now even stronger, as it has gone beyond friendship on its way towards kinship. The last time we saw Abhishek in Phulera was atop the tall water tank tower, as he made introductions with Brij Bhushan’s daughter Rinki. It was almost felt that he had taken a romantic interest in the young woman of similar age, and the writers seem to toy with that same feeling, as no romantic relationship or anything even close to it has been established between the two. Instead, Vikas and Prahlad are now struck with the same feeling that viewers were struck with—that something romantic might be going on between the pair. Although their hunch is quickly blown away by Abhishek, a sense of romantic interest does indeed cook up quite slowly towards the end of the season. The show also has villains this time, one in the form of a potential political rival to Brij Bhushan and current village Pradhan Manju Devi, and the other as a corrupt government MLA. There is also an air of political urgency in this season, with village elections quite close by, and the Pradhan and her husband look for ways to keep their voters happy and in hand. Abhishek Tripathi continues to find solutions to all such problems one after the other, this time more committedly, while also keeping up his preparations for CAT and dreams of IIMs and MBA.
What Are The New Problems In Phulera? How Does Abhishek Go About Dealing With Them?
Like in the previous season, “Panchayat’s problems remain rooted in reality and quite unique to urban perceptions. Another constant in this case is the sense of larger, deep-rooted problems being left alone by Abhishek without being preachy or trying to remove such issues. When Brij Bhushan talks about the concern of dowry for his daughter’s marriage in season 1, Abhishek claims that he would never himself indulge in a system like dowry, but he does not try to convince his friends against it. The first episode of season 2 begins with Abhishek getting to know of a minor-level illegality as soil dug up from ponds being dug out is supposed to be auctioned off by the Panchayat. However, Brij Bhushan and his administration keep selling it off to their close acquaintance Parmeshwar and that too at a price lower than usual. Abhishek does not try to change such a system, though, and instead cooks up a plan to make Parmeshwar pay more for it, by making him negotiate with Manju Devi instead of her husband, but this leaves Parmeshwar irked. He goes off to a nearby village to watch a dance performance and causes trouble there, which leads to Abhishek having to help one of the dancers to a local clinic. Abhishek now questions the woman’s choice of profession, perhaps in line with how his character’s sense of moral high-ground has been written, and gets lessoned on the struggle to stick with a profession despite disliking it while trying to aim towards a higher ambition in life; this sort of survival is not uncommon in India, and Abhishek is made to realize that he too is engaged in a sort of dance to survive till he gets selected for an MBA. He gets a similar telling off, one less accurate than this, though, in another instance when the jeep driver appointed to run an anti-drug campaign himself turns up in a drunken state and has to be sheltered at the panchayat office. Looking down upon the driver for his habits, Abhishek is told off by the driver that he himself has the potential to turn into a drunkard later on in life when he has to support a family with an underpaid job.
Despite some exceptions, the majority of Panchayat’s season 2 presents its problems through the character of Bhushan, a troublesome villager who keeps hatching plans against Brij Bhushan and his administration. Bhushan was earlier seen creating a ruckus over the population control slogan, which compared having more than two children to having piles, and now he returns with more ways to paint the Dubeys in a negative light in front of the villagers. He first complains about the terrible condition of a stretch of road that connects Phulera to the highway, and even gives an ultimatum to Abhishek regarding acting on it. When the secretary and his friends manage to play it down, Bhushan starts to personally target Abhishek, taunting him by saying that the secretary is almost like a pet to the Dubeys. After initially trying out ways to maintain a distance with Brij Bhushan, Abhishek finally realizes that the elderly man is more his friend than a workplace senior, and he confronts Bhushan and dismisses him. The villager, though, has plans of his own, as with a successful business now, he intends to make his wife contest the next panchayat elections, and so he keeps throwing problems at the current administration. When the DM suddenly visits Phulera to investigate claims of people still defecating in the open despite the village being termed ODF (Open Defecation Free), Bhushan convinces another simple-minded villager to go defecate in the open fields during the inspection. Where this political rivalry gets even uglier, involving both families, is when Manju Devi one day mistakenly returns home from the temple wearing sandals belonging to Bhushan’s wife. The man and his wife rush to the panchayat office to look at footage from a newly-installed CCTV right in front of the temple, and create a huge ruckus, claiming that they would lodge an FIR over it. As Abhishek’s plans to solve the small issue fail to work, and the two wives now get directly involved in an ugly fight, the secretary takes his friend’s side and deletes the CCTV footage.
Meanwhile, talks of Rinki’s marriage with an engineer hailing from a nearby village are advanced, and the two families decide to meet. The meeting never happens, though, as the two sides mistakenly land up at two different restaurants (the place fixed for the meeting), and the groom’s father then insultingly looks down upon Brij Bhushan over a phone call. Despite the marriage being called off, the groom keeps calling Rinki even after she asks him not to, and from different numbers as she has blocked his number off. It is with this problem that Rinki first approaches Abhishek personally, asking for his help in the matter. Abhishek smartly calls up the man and threatens him with a case of harassment, faking to be the inspector of the area’s police station. He and Rinki then gradually develop a mutual interest, but one that is never expressed by either of them or by the show itself. The chemistry instead builds up over awkward but meaningful glances at each other, shy conversations, and their individual friends suggesting that something might be up between the two.
The second negative character, and a much viler one, is introduced towards the end of the series, in the shape of the region’s MLA, a corrupt and egoistic man who never indulges in any government work without looking at personal benefits. Brij Bhushan had been convinced that the repair of the stretch of bad road (the one pointed out by Bhushan earlier) would be the ideal development to show before the upcoming elections, and he visited the MLA, Chandrakishore Singh, to ask for funds. Singh instead makes use of the chance to create his own hold over the villagers, asking Brij Bhushan to prove to him that he is able to gather crowds in Phulera for the MLA to visit and address. While Brij Bhushan agrees to do so, Singh then sends the acting Pradhan, Prahlad, and Vikas to a political demonstration, where they are arrested by the police. Abhishek goes over to the police station and gets them freed, and the four then go over to Singh’s residence to collect their motorcycles. Singh, however, is livid at seeing Brij Bhushan freed so quickly, as his plan was to himself go over to the police station to get him out, and create a grand show of his political intelligence and bravery. Abhishek lightly suggests that he could have told Brij Bhushan about his plans before, and this angers the MLA even more, and the man nastily abuses the secretary.
After the four return to Phulera, Abhishek expresses his disappointment in his friends not standing up for him when he was being humiliated and also has a fight over Brij Bhushan when the latter wants to invite the MLA to Phulera in order to get the funds required for the road repair. Brij Bhushan, on the advice of Manju Devi, who throughout the season provides innumerable clever ideas despite still not actively playing the role of Pradhan, had decided to host a 72-hour long prayer program in the village. It is for this program that they want to invite Chandrakishore Singh, and Abhishek finally agrees to it, although he decides to return home for the three days. This does not go according to plan either, as Singh once again starts hurling abuses at the absent secretary in front of Brij Bhushan, Prahlad, and Vikas when they go over to invite him. Despite the MLA agreeing to visit Phulera, the friends now stand up for Abhishek and have a terrible quarrel with the man. They return to their village and celebrate the occasion (also of Abhishek’s staying back during the program) with their usual beer drinking. Meanwhile, arrangements are made for the veneration, and Bhushan tries to hijack this too, by supplying tents, chairs, and other necessities out of his business and making his own name visually stick out. Little do any of them know, though, that their fate does not have any place for such celebrations or rivalries.
‘Panchayat’ Season 2: Ending – What Stops The Prayer Program From Being Held? What Is Next For Abhishek?
This season introduced another character mostly absent but ultimately integral to the plot—Prahlad’s son Rahul, who is a serving soldier in the Indian Army. Prahlad, who became a widower some twelve years ago, mostly lives alone but cherishes the company of his son when the young man visits home on holiday from his duty. On the day before the prayer ceremony is about to begin, and while drinking beer with his friends, Prahlad receives a call informing him of the sudden demise of his son, who was posted in Kashmir. The whole scene of the village understandably changes, as the media and then the martyr’s body arrive for ceremonial rituals. Everyone gathers around a shocked Prahlad to pay respect to his son, as army personnel also send the young man off with gun salutes. Along with the sudden change, of course, in the plot, the way the script and visuals treat this situation makes it an extremely emotional watch. Faisal Malik, playing the role of Prahlad, deserves mention in this regard. As days pass by, the man spends his days sitting all alone, locked inside his house, trying to accept the fact that he now has no family of his own left. Brij Bhushan, Vikas, and Abhishek, themselves terribly heartbroken and dejected, visit their friend and bring him to the panchayat office to have dinner together. Prahlad breaks down expressing his loneliness, while an equally tearful Brij Bhushan tries to console him by saying that he still has a lot of family left, despite none of them being blood ties. This was expressed visually too, when the entire village stood together to mourn the death of such a young man. The scene with the four friends inside the panchayat office heightens the emotions even more, as it presents itself with a tremendously heartfelt charge that immediately hits audiences. It is with this scene that the series ends, with a reminder of the ultimate reality that friends who laugh and celebrate together also have situations to cry together and console each other.
Earlier, when Rahul’s corpse was brought into the village in an army convoy, the malicious MLA Chandrakishore Singh had also quickly arrived on the scene with his own stretch of security cars, undoubtedly to highlight his own image. But the man was immediately stopped by Manju Devi and a large group of other women who refused to let him pass beyond the panchayat office. Manju Devi confronted him about his terrible behavior and pathetic attitude towards others, and convinced him to leave the village. Singh had immediately asked his men to prepare a transfer order for Abhishek, and this gets further attention in a post-credit scene at the end of the last episode. An official letter arrives at Manju Devi’s house, and Rinky informs her mother that it is an official transfer order for the panchayat secretary.
With Panchayat’s brilliant success and also the structuring of the 2nd season, it is perhaps obvious that the show would return for a 3rd season. Where Abhishek lands up next if the transfer order stands would be the biggest highlight, as it might change the entire setting of the show, although that seems unlikely. Also, how the panchayat elections take place and what its ultimate result turns out to be is something important. Finally, whether any serious romance ultimately cooks up between Rinki and Abhishek also remains a question, as the man is intent on leaving the place soon and yet finds himself attracted to the woman.