ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Panchayat: Casteism and Mockery in the Name of Humour

Panchayat on Amazon Prime uses humour to draw attention to casteism, in what is a wasted opportunity.

Humour can be used as a form of social commentary and critique, and Panchayat (2020) on Amazon Prime often uses humour to portray the injustices and inequalities of the caste system in India while presenting an unreal version of caste society. It focuses on the politics and issues surrounding the administration of a rural village, parti­cularly in regards to the dominance of upper-caste individuals, specifically Brahmins, with the surnames Dubey, Tripathi, and Shukla. The show highlights the reinforcement of casteism through various routine activities and the naming of office bearers in the panchayat board. The central characters include Abhishek Tripathi, played by Jitendra Kumar, who takes on a low-paying job as the panchayat secretary, Manju Devi, played by Neena Gupta, who serves as the village pradhan but whose husband holds the real power, and Prahlad Pandey, played by Faisal Malik, the deputy pradhan and Vikas, played by Chandan Roy, the office assistant. Aanchal Tiwari portrays Rinky’s buddy Raveena, Anup Sharma plays Rajkumar bhaiya, and the ward member’s surname is Chakraborty. Additionally, the names Kulkarni, Tiwari, Dubey, Pandit, Pathak, Mishra, Pandey, and Joshi appear in the roll of credits.

That said, the now-two-season-old Panchayat series, which is set in Uttar Pradesh, has been widely criticised for perpetuating the harmful and misleading stereotype of rural life as being dominated by Brahmins. Created and produced by a Savarna cast and crew, the series presents a romanticised view of a local government that is exclusively composed of upper-caste office bearers. It has garnered both acclaim and censure, with the former coming from upper-caste individuals whose perspectives on India may be limited by their own narrow experiences. The series has been criticised for perpetuating stereotypes and using humour to trivialise issues of caste, as well as promoting a distorted and meritless depiction of a “Brahminical Utopia.”

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Updated On : 2nd May, 2023
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