Currently enjoying the success of Amazon Prime Video Panchayat season 2, actor Jitendra Kumar is already looking ahead. His new movie Jaadugar is slated for a July 15 release on Netflix.
Written by viral fever Biswapati Sarkar and directed by fellow TVF core member Sameer Saxena, the film has Kumar playing the titular magician. He shared his teaser on Instagram earlier this week. An absolute underdog in the entertainment industry, Kumar has a lot going for him right now. He credits the resounding success of his 2020 film and Ayushmann Khurrana Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan for this massive turnaround in his career. quite successfully, Panchayat arrived shortly after.
The show’s second season, which was released on May 20, received rave reviews. Netizens flooded social media with praise, memes, and a ton of love, applauding the grounded performances, authentic portrayal, and tense storyline. In this exclusive interview, Kumar talks about the show people can’t help but gush about, his character Abhishek Tripathi, why Panchayat clicked with audiences as he did, his new Netflix movie, completing a decade as an actor, and Panchayat season 3.
Q. How did the Panchayat come to you?
A. At TVF, we make the kind of shows we want to see. Malgudi Days is one of them. So we thought we had to do a show on a village today. We started thinking. Someone suggested that the panchayat is a great concept through which we could follow multiple characters, involve the whole village, and show a myriad of stories. So we started thinking about how we could make it original. The scriptwriter of the show had the idea of putting a young urban man at the heart of it. How he has to go to the village reluctantly as panchayat secretary – a job he doesn’t want.
Once we deciphered the basic premise, we started wondering who could play the protagonist. Since I was there they said I could do it. I found the whole thing very interesting – the story, the character and everything around it. That’s how it happened.
Q. What is the big difference you noticed in your character Abhishek Tripathi between seasons one and two? How did you prepare for it?
A. The Season 1 Abhishek is not at all interested in his job or the things and people in the village as his ambitions are different. It’s not like he wants to do anything really important in his life. All he wants is a normal job. But the one he finds himself riding with does not match any of his parameters. He does it only because he has no other better option. In season 1, he is very frustrated. But ends up discovering that the village and his job aren’t so bad after all.
In Season 2, he is more comfortable with the village and its people; he is more involved in his work with the panchayat and has even started to enjoy it. Although he is still preparing for CAT, a lot of new things are happening to him this season.
As for the prep, I didn’t have to do anything new because the second season is in the same rhythm as the first. We had season 1 as a reference point when we started shooting the second. So Abhishek’s character didn’t require so much work. But we made sure it stayed in the same rhythm – the same area. We wanted the first episode of Season 2 to feel like the ninth episode of Season 1. We wanted the second season to start where we left the audience at the end of the first so that it would be consistent. We didn’t improve or expand the elements of Season 1 just because the audience liked them so much.
Q. Any moment in season two when you felt you were right?
A. Usually the first day is the hardest, but ours was quite interesting. When we start working on a second season and find the village as we left it two years ago, it’s surreal. Nothing had changed in the village. The panchayat looked exactly like what we shot in Season 1, so we picked up where we left off. From day one, we knew we had taken the first step in the right direction. When your first day is sorted, the others just follow.
Q. You have starred in several viral sketches, several popular web shows and a major Bollywood movie. But what do you think was the most crucial step for your career?
A. I think Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan was very crucial. The timing of its release and the way families traveled to the theater to watch it gave me a much wider reach. Prior to that, my audience for all viral skits and webcasts were mostly college students or corporate employees. My reach was not too remarkable among families. Shubh Manga… broke that barrier for me; it broadened the range of my audience. Panchayat, which is again a family show, was released soon after. So both were very important.
Q. You kill it in webspace, but we want to see you back on the big screen soon. When will this happen next?
A. Soon I hope. COVID-19 arrived a month after the release of Shubh Manga… and completely changed the way filmmakers planned releases. All the offers I received afterwards were mainly for streaming, whether movies or series because there was no certainty on theatrical releases. Everyone only thought about releases and OTT rooms if the circumstances became favorable. I also hope to see myself back on the big screen soon.
Q. You recently shared the teaser for your upcoming movie Jaadugar on Instagram. What is it about?
A. It’s a Netflix movie that will be released on July 15th. The film’s director Sameer Saxena and writer Biswapati Sarkar are very old friends. I met Sameer the first month after my arrival in Mumbai. He is a very interesting filmmaker and has several fantastic shows under his belt.
Biswapati Sarkar was my senior at university. We came to Mumbai together to make films. Now, after 10 years, our first film together is coming out. This is his first film, my fourth. So we’re really excited to finally do the work that we planned to do when we were in college. I hope the public will enjoy watching Jaadugar and give him as much love as they have for all my other works.
Q. Is everything back to normal—success, appreciation, billboards and billboards? Do you think you have arrived?
A. When I arrived in Mumbai, I was shooting on day 1. Only on that day, I felt I had arrived because it doesn’t happen very often. It takes time for an actor to find a place in front of the camera. So such “I have arrived” moments keep coming and going in my life. It’s a very unpredictable profession and industry, so you can never sit back and think you’ve arrived. You just can’t afford to think that way. Every two years you might feel like it, but then you have to fight for new and different things. Abhi poster lag gaye hai, by abhi meri aur expectations hey with my characters, stories. When you have such expectations, you have to start over from zero.
Q. You have completed 10 years as an actor. What were the two main learnings from all these years that you would like to share with people outside the industry who want to become actresses?
A. Cinema is above all a team effort. Tumhara akele ka kuch nahi hai. So you have to know how to work in a team. If you don’t know how to do it, then you have to learn it. Plus, you may never think you’ve mastered your craft. This is not possible because you must constantly learn, unlearn and evolve. You have to look at what is happening, how things are changing, new ways of doing and being, and constantly adapt. And finally, you can’t put a time limit on your goals and dreams. It takes a long time to learn, to get where you want to go. Things happen at their own pace. You have to go with the flow and be there when it happens.
Q. You and Panchayat director Deepak Kumar Mishra has already confirmed season 3. What can we expect? Has the preparation already started?
A. We are currently in the very early stages. The writers are currently discussing and working on how to move the story forward. Let’s see when they develop it and prepare the script. Filming also takes a long time. Making Season 3 better than Season 2 will be a tough challenge, but we’re up for it. We started the process, let’s see how it goes. It will take time.