Many women like Manju Devi around us: Neena Gupta on her role in ‘Panchayat’


PTI, May 28, 2024, 7:47 PM IST

Mumbai: Veteran actor Neena Gupta says her role in the popular series “Panchayat” became a fan-favourite because there are many women like Manju Devi different parts of the country.

In season three of the Prime Video show, Gupta returns as the effervescent Manju Devi, the Phulera village head in Uttar Pradesh. She is the village head on paper but it’s her husband (Raghubir Yadav) who is known as the ‘Pradhan’ and handles all the administrative responsibilities.

“Characters are often inspired by real-life. There are still many women like Manju devi everywhere around us. She is very satisfied with her household things; she has no ambition. Pradhan (Yadav) is working on her behalf, people liked it and that’s how women in India do it in rural or urban places. So, women relate to me, to Manju devi,” the actor told PTI in an interview.

There are many progressive women in the country but on the screen, their onscreen portrayal is still not received well by the audiences, the actor said.

“You can’t (play progressive woman), they become vamps. Like, in my television show, ‘Khandaan’, I played the role of a progressive woman, and it became like a negative character. Bold (women) characters don’t work here (in India). In movies, we see them (women) as sati savirtri,” she said.

Also featuring Jitendra Kumar, Raghubir Yadav, Faisal Malik, Chandan Roy, and Sanvikaa, “Panchayat” revolves around the daily issues faced by the residents of a fictional village in Uttar Pradesh.

The comedy-drama first premiered in April 2020 and it’s second season came out in May 2022 to positive reviews.

Despite having played the role of Manju Devi in the previous two seasons, Gupta said it took a while for her to get into the skin of her character.

“The dialect is different so when you play the character after a while, it takes time to get into the character. In fact, on the last day of the shoot, the dialogues came easily to me. I insist that we must shoot the next season soon. However, you’ve to work on the character,” she said.

“There were people on set to help me, like he (Deepak) knows the dialect, Raghubir (Yadav) or Faisal (Malik),” the actor added.

In season three of “Panchayat” politics takes centre stage. Ask about her expectations from the Lok Sabha elections, Gupta said she is hoping the issue of unemployment is addressed.

“All I want is whoever comes in power, they should’ve a good motive. I’m worried about employment; the youth should get employment or else they might do wrong things. If everyone gets employed then the problem of our country will be sorted,” she said.

“Sometimes, I think it is difficult to run a house, so running a country is a difficult thing,” she added.

“Panchayat 3”, directed by Deepak Kumar Mishra and created by The Viral Fever (TVF), released on Tuesday.

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