It's no secret that the pandemic pushed the audience to OTT content, but what made them stay there, was the quality of content available on streaming platforms. This is exactly why, despite new shows arriving every week, and movies making their way to streaming platforms, only a few web series emerged as cinematic marvels - leaving an entire nation impressed, and worming their way into the audience's hearts. 

One such show is TVF's Panchayat, currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video. 

Jitendra Kumar's Panchayat Poster
Source: Indian Express

When Panchayat first released, it became a sleeper hit, joining the ranks of shows like Scam 1992 and Gullak. After all, while the show boasted of a talented star cast, it certainly did not include "stars". And yet, it became a crowd favourite for its simple, clean humor, brilliant storytelling, and of course, amazing performances by the entire star cast. 

In fact, the show became so popular that season 2 was easily one of the most anticipated Amazon Prime originals of the year. And the early arrival of the show--keeping in line with Amazon's marketing strategy for season 2 of all its popular shows--left fans thoroughly ecstatic. 

However, this time, the show was also competing with two highly anticipated theatrical releases - the sequel to one of Bollywood's most loved horror-comedies, Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 starring Kartik Aryan, Kiara Advani, and Tabu. And the Kangana Ranaut starrer action-drama, Dhaakad.

Kangana
Source: ET

But what the weekend showed, with ample proof, was the rise of content in the face of stars.

While Dhaakad failed to generate enough audience for even scheduled shows, Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 also opened to mixed reviews (though, comparatively, fuller shows), especially in comparison to the original. 

Even as Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 edges to better results, it's still not close enough to match the love and appreciation that Panchayat S2 has generated. Not only did Panchayat break Bollywood's curse of disappointing sequelsthe S2 climax, alone, found a greater audience, than Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2, and rightfully so. 

Because Panchayat did what most movies, to date, continue to miss - focus on the story and not the star. 

One may think that Abhishek aka Sachiv Ji is the star of the show, but he's merely the protagonist. His love story, struggles, friendships, together, are splintered across the show, but never, not even for one entire episode, take center stage.

Panchayat S2
Source: Amazon Prime Video

Rather, what takes center stage is life in Phulera - with its relatable problems, realistic solutions, and unique characters. As Sachiv Ji goes about his life in Phulera, dealing with 'banrakas' villagers, we go on the journey with him. 

And it's not just because web series creators have more time than filmmakers to tell a story. But because these creators are not forcing to fit an unwanted love story, a crass remix, tired tropes, and cliched scenes in a few hours. They are simply telling a story - one that resonates with all of us.

Why else would Prahlad's loss hit us like our own? 

Panchayat
Source: Amazon Prime Video

Or Abhishek and Rinki's fledgling romance, tug at our heartstrings? 

Panchayat
Source: Amazon Prime Video

And Pradhan ji's stand, for his daughter, and his friend, make our hearts swell with pride? 

Because these characters made a place in our hearts. And despite CGI effects, and commendable acting, movies couldn't do the same. 

The success of Panchayat Season 2 speaks for itself. We don't need old stories and cliches with new actors, no matter how popular they may be. We just need good stories. If only, filmmakers could pay heed.