Panchayat season 2, with the response it has been getting from critics and audiences, has proven that honest writing and performance are any creator’s best bet for success. A lot of things work for Panchayat, and one among them is how it depicts rural India.
Panchayat seasons 1 and 2
What started as a series based on the life of Abhishek Tripathi (played by Jitendra Kumar), an engineering student who found himself in village Phulera as a panchayat secretary, has now made its way into the lives of millions of Indians, thanks to the honest portrayal of our villages as mentioned before. The show doesn’t glorify things or uses rural India with a selfish lens of deriving emotions from the viewers. It stays true to itself, and therein lies its biggest success.
Here we look at 5 times filmmakers were able to do the same effectively.
1. Nadiya Ke Paar
There is a scene in Nadiya Ke Paar where Gunja (played by Sadhana Singh) has her feet dipped in some water that has entered the boat. The alta on her feet starts bleeding as a result. Even after 15 years of watching the movie, I cannot forget the imagery of the scene. It’s the attention to little things like this that make a movie impactful. Boats are a common means of transport in villages situated close to a river but that fact doesn’t have to be rubbed in. There are other ways of showing it. This 1982 classic was remade into Hum Aapke Hain Koun..! though the latter was set in a completely different world.
One could find some parallels between Swades and Panchayat if they tried. This Ashutosh Gowariker movie is considered to be one of Shah Rukh’s best works and it’s clear why. It’s a touching story of an NRI finding his roots in his country. The movie shows the problems and the solution to them but in a realistic manner.
Nagesh Kukunoor’s Dor is not an easy watch because of the subject but it is an important film with a beautiful message in the end. He made a movie on women helping women before the theme was discussed as much as it is today. The movie also hits the mark when it comes to doing justice to its setting. It wouldn’t be fair to single out villages as places where sexism is rampant – it happens everywhere. However, it is also not advisable to choose to look away. Dor shows all the things a widow has to go through and the purdah system that only further hiders her independence.
4. Paan Singh Tomar
Paan Singh Tomar traces Chambal’s tumultuous rural life in post-independence India. The movie is based on the real-life story of the athlete and army-man of the same name who was on a run after getting involved in a family dispute. The film talks of gang wars and has other subtle themes set against the village life and the exacting terrains of the region.
5. Peepli Live
Written by Anusha Rizvi, Peepli Live is the story of a family where one of the sons decides to end his life to get some reparation from the government that he hopes will keep his family afloat. Such a dark topic has been dealt with sensible humour, making you think of the premise long after you’ve seen the film. Peepli Live shows the true state of affairs in countless Indian villages and the extent to which people are willing to go, to end their problems. Often, the end of the problem is also the end of their lives.
There are multiple other movies set in rural India – for instance, Lagaan and Mirch Masala, that are also great but the ones on the list made their villages a part of the plot with more emphasis.