Panchayat 3: What makes Faisal Malik's grief-stricken Prahlad Panday the heart of this season | Web Series - Hindustan Times
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Panchayat 3: What makes Faisal Malik's grief-stricken Prahlad Panday the heart of this season

ByDevansh Sharma
May 30, 2024 06:10 AM IST

Panchayat season 3 may have lost the plot, but there's one character who gently holds on to his grief – Prahlad Panday, played by an assured Faisal Malik.

The previous season of Prime Video India's show Panchayat ended on an uncharacteristically tragic note with the martyrdom of Prahlad Panday's soldier son Rahul. Faisal Malik, who remained a friendly sidekick throughout the show, suddenly assumed a greater significance, as the father of a martyr. While that designation is often tossed around as a matter of pride, season 3 showed that for Prahlad, it's primarily embedded as deep-seated grief.

Faisal Malik plays Prahlad Panday in Panchayat season 3
Faisal Malik plays Prahlad Panday in Panchayat season 3

(Also Read – Panchayat 3 review: Jitendra Kumar's show soars high on emotions, surprises with supporting cast)

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Various stages of grief

Prahlad's first mention in season 3 comes from his well-wishers – Vikas (Chandan Roy), Manju Devi (Neena Gupta), and Pradhan (Raghubir Yadav) as they discuss how Prahlad hasn't been staying at his home or not eating properly. They also touch upon how his drinking habit has spiked. We already paint a very morose, helpless portrait of a man. When we see him, sleeping peacefully under a tree, we can sense that he may be grieving or drinking heavily, but he's at peace. Not because his son died a martyr's death, but because after that loss, he has nothing more to forego.

Prahlad doesn't pull his grief like he'd pull an axe in the farm. It sits with him, sleeps with him, and drinks with him like a silent companion – as a reminder that his life won't be the same again. It's a feeling that resonated with us when we witnessed the season 2 finale. The show that we've loved for its innocence and simplicity would cease to be steeped in either. There are strokes from that show in season 3, but like in life, grief manifests in various forms throughout the eight-episode run. Like the show, Prahlad also switches his mood as per the situation. But a restless energy remains constant.

Prahlad doesn't take a few episodes to grow out of his drunken, lifeless state. When given a task, he takes it up and dares to carry it out without pulling any punches. He's even willing to resort to violence, if that's what it takes to restore the status quo. Even the District Magistrate's orders fall on his deaf ears. “Apne samay se pehle koi nahi jaega (nobody leaves before their time),” he says emphatically, referring to Sachiv's (Jeetendra Kumar) premature transfer, while prematurely underlining his son's early demise.

Grief for Prahlad, however, doesn't only oscillate between intimidating violence and hopeless hibernation. There's also a wide spectrum in between. For instance, he doesn't want to encash the 50 lakh cheque he got from the government after his son's martyrdom. Like his grief, he can't find an appropriate route to channelise the money into. So he keeps offering it to anyone and everyone in need – rebuilding of a road so that Pradhan has a fair shot in the upcoming elections, financial aid to Vikas so he can plan his family despite his low income, and even the treatment of an old woman in his village whose son can't afford it. Prahlad recognises that while the grief is his, the money that came out of it is up for grabs.

The best moment

My most precious moment from Prahlad's arc – or even the entire season – is his intimate interaction with the old woman whose life he saves. Amma is hell-bent on getting a new pucca house for her son and his family. But her illiterate and unskilled self can't conjure up a way to attain that, except through manipulation. She feigns illness and pretends that she's been kicked out of her son's home so that Sachiv can nominate her for a new house under the Central Government's housing policy. She insists on living in a mud outhouse meanwhile, against her son's wishes, if that increases her chances of getting him a new home.

Prahlad takes Amma to his unkempt home and offers her to take refuge there. He says that all his materialistic wealth – the house and the 50 lakh cheque – are inconsequential because he doesn't have anyone to share them with. Since she still has the luxury of a family, she shouldn't distance herself from them, for the sake of a materialistic possession. Both of them shed tears and embrace each other – the mother of a poor man who wants a better life for her son, and the father of a martyred soldier who can't even dream of sharing a modest life with his son. It's the coming together of two unlikely forces who can make each other see how rich they are, materialistically or otherwise. She then instructs him to sweep his house and leaves him with her two cents to deal with grief and life in general.

When he says that his home would go dirty again, she shrugs her shoulders and suggests when that happens, he must sweep again. It's the perfect thing to say to someone grieving – that they have to start the day on a fresh note, go through the mundane grind, only to repeat the drill every day. That's not going to sweep away the grief, but it would very well help you believe that you're doing something about it every day. Which is what Faisal Malik's Prahlad Panday symbolises in Panchayat – in a show struggling to rediscover its voice and readjust its stakes, he's the one who just picks up the broom and sweeps. One hopes that in the next season, the writers also pick up their pens and follow suit.

 

 

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