On to its third season now, Prime Video’s Panchayat may have started in the middle of Covid lockdown but has proven its mettle over the years as it kept a largely urban audience engaged with the story set in the fictional ‘Phulera gaon’ in Uttar Pradesh. If the first season was all about a young man from a big city finding his feet in the village, the second season became more layered and complex. It also introduced the love story of Sachiv ji (Jeetendra Kumar) and Rinky (Sanvikaa), which blossomed in the recently released third season.

With Panchayat Season 3, the show’s fans have given the love story their stamp of approval, and just the antidote you need in the age of Tinder and swiping left. Social media has been buzzing with fan pages and memes around the show. Unaware of the #Rinky trend on X, Sanvikaa tells indianexpress.com, “Panchayat has changed my life completely. And the kind of response that I’ve been getting from Season 2 till now has been very overwhelming.”

For Sanvikaa, Panchayat opened new doors. “When it comes to work, things have changed a lot. Now people see me as a lead character. So earlier, I used to get very small roles, character roles. But now people are also considering me (for meatier roles),” the actor said.

“So in terms of auditions, things are changing as well as acceptance from the audience. That has changed me as a person because now I feel I’m more comfortable with the way I look, and the way I am. So I think that love was very important for me to feel myself completely,” she added.

There are not many actors whose journeys are guided by destiny. Sanvikaa says she was “miraculously” locked for Rinky, a confused village girl who is yet to discover her dream and is romantically drawn to her father’s aide.

“I think that was destiny. Being at the right place at the right moment, it was exactly like that. I didn’t feel like stepping out of my house that day, but still I decided to go for the audition for an ad. I was feeling hopeless. Miraculously, I bumped into Kritaat and was called for the audition. It was not planned at all. Now, I believe one should just keep going. Even on days when you don’t feel like doing it, you should just keep going. You never know your destiny. You never know how things will work out,” she said.

The character of Rinky was introduced in Season 2 and became part of an already-established cast including ace performers like Neena Gupta, Raghubir Yadav, Jeetender Kumar and Faisal Malik. Speaking about being surrounded by a talented bunch of seniors, Sanvikaa spoke of her initial inhibitions. “In Season 2, it was a little difficult for me, not in terms of getting along with the actors, but in terms of performance. I used to be intimidated by the senior actors who were all very good,” Sanvikaa said.

Festive offer

“But in Season 3, it became comfortable for me and we have grown as a family. The bond has become stronger. The more you work on your craft, the better you become,” she continued.

Sanvikaa says that she received plaudits from her directors and co-actors only in Panchayat Season 3 while the last season was full of ‘scolding’. “In Season 3, I got so many compliments from different people. My director, Deepak Kumar Mishra, was very happy. In Season 2, I got little scoldings from him in some scenes where I was not able to perform. While he didn’t say anything while we were shooting this season, he commented on the edit table, ‘This time you have performed so well. You made me proud.’ Apart from that, all the actors appreciated my work. Now, I feel like I am on the right track.”

When asked about her favorite co-star in Panchayat, Sanvikaa shared that she has a good bond with everyone. However, as she has more scenes with Jeetender Kumar, they have developed an understanding. “We don’t talk because he’s very shy and so was I in the beginning. We used to practice our scenes, rehearse the lines, and then go and perform. In Season 3, I used to initiate conversation and he would respond to that,” Sanvikaa said.

The actor also requests casting directors and writers to look beyond stereotypes while casting her. “The kind of roles that I’m getting now are definitely better than earlier. As I was skinny and dusky, I would be offered only a certain kind of role — of a person belonging to the middle class. Now, I really don’t mind playing a middle-class or a lower-middle-class person but at the same time, they should also experiment with other characters,” she said.

“After Panchayat, I am getting different roles, but also a majority of them are from that background only. So I really want to say to casting directors, please, you can audition me for different roles as well. I have a very character face — I can play a rich person, a lawyer, a police officer… I can do different things,” the actor added.