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One of the interesting points about Amazon Prime's show, Panchayat, which boasts an IMDb rating of 8.9/10, is that most of the clothes of the character were originally purchased from a local market. However, when washed the clothes shrunk, and so the costume designer Priyadarshini Majumdar had to buy branded clothes. The regular branded clothes absolutely did fit into the context and served as an important factor in bringing alive the characters.
Directed by Deepak Kumar Mishra and written by Chandan Kumar, the difference between urban and rural, and the personality of each character are also defined by clothes, other than the acting prowess. In this regard, if we take into perspective, the central character of the show Abhishek Tripathi (Jitendra Kumar), his clothes absolutely bring out the contrast between two sensibilities. To urban residents, there's nothing so striking about his striped and checkered shirts and trousers but when the same character is put in the rural narrative, the contrast is evident. Abhishek Tripathi, who is a reluctant public servant and his discomfort towards the idea of living in a village is clear from the beginning, makes heads turn as he steps into the narrow muddy lanes of Phulera village. In his crisp striped shirt and trouser, he immediately draws the attention of the village people, who ask him that with whom he is staying. It seems not so much about being a new face in the mundane village but because of his city-clothes that establishes the difference.
Abhishek ends up in the village of Phulera upon somewhat forceful convincing by his friend Prateek (Biswapati Sarkar). Uninterested but out-of-desperation, the village life is certainly irregular for mall-hopping and party-loving Abhishek. While the other village characters including the pradhan of the village Brij Bhushan (Raghubir Yadav) and deputy pradhan Prahlad Pandey (Faisal Malik) are dressed in their regular kurta pyjamas, Abhishek shows no signs of blending in by switching his urban-clothes to kurta pyjamas. Even his nightclothes, which includes a t-shirt and jockey shorts instantly remind us of urban fashion. To a large extent, we could understand his choice of maintaining formal clothes, as the character in the village works as a government worker and wishes to be taken seriously. However, in Abhishek's case, he wants to escape the village and is definitely not contemplating his time in the village as an adventure or building connections. In fact, he spends time preparing for IIM after his office hours. While Abhishek, by all means, is a serious and simple character, his clothes are a cold withdrawal from rural India.
His character, in fact, is a very regular one - somebody who wants to fit into the corporate structure and hence dresses like the employees of the grey buildings. Abhishek Tripathi's outfit in the series isn't very individualistic and more about fitting into the urbane narrative even though he is in a rural surrounding. In a nutshell, his clothes are about the reflection of society. You may say he is a little unlikeable character but he is also very relatable, and Jitendra Kumar's performance is impressive. Kudos to the costume designer too for keeping it real and on-point!
*The opinions expressed in the story are that of the writer. This does not reflect the opinion of anyone involved in the making of Panchayat.
Photos Credit: Jitendra Kumar's Instagram