When Arvind Kejriwal was 'Panchayat' star Jitendra Kumar's first claim to fame

New Delhi, May 23 (IANS): Arvind Kejriwal is grabbing news headlines and Season 3 of the acclaimed OTT comedy drama series 'Panchayat' is all set to start streaming on May 28. Now, what is the connection between the two?

It is Jitendra Kumar, who plays the troubled and conflicted engineering graduate serving as the gram panchayat secretary of the fictional village of Phulera in Uttar Pradesh in the Amazon Prime Video series.

Originally famous as Jeetu Bhaiyya of the other popular OTT series, 'Kota Factory', Jitendra Kumar was a fresh Civil Engineering graduate of his (and Arvind Kejriwal's alma mater), IIT-Kharagpur, when he played a student leader named Arjun Kejriwal modelled after the then muffler-wrapped Aam Aadmi Party leader in a sketch for The Viral Factory's YouTube channel.

It was to be Kumar's ticket to fame. Last checked, the sketch had garnered 7.7 million views.

A gifted mimic since he was a child growing up in Khairthal, a small town in Rajasthan, Kumar then played a Bollywood Aam Aadmi Party (BAAP) leader, who was again inspired by Delhi's Chief Minister, being grilled by 'Arnub Goswami'.

His IIT-Kharagpur Hindi Dramatics Society mate, Biswapati Sarkar, who was one of the co-founders of The Viral Factory, parodied the popular yet controversial news anchor, and continued to do so in the hugely popular YouTube show, 'Arnub's Qtiyapa'.

The sketch, last seen, had been viewed by 11.1 million YouTube subscribers.

When Kumar was asked by a television channel if he would like to play Kejriwal on the big screen, he replied amid much laughter, "I would love to do it. I would be grateful if I get an opportunity to play him."

In another media interview, Kumar said, "Kejriwal has a peculiar pitch and mannerisms. I picked them up while watching his interviews, particularly the one he gave to Arnab Goswami."

This cast of characters, all linked to IIT-Kharagpur, continue to be connected with each other.

The Viral Factory, which launched the tradition of web series in the country in the early 2010s on YouTube and produced 'Kota Factory', is also behind 'Panchayat'.

Deepak Kumar Mishra, the series director, cut his teeth in the entertainment industry with The Viral Factory's 'Permanent Roommates', which ran for three seasons on YouTube. The show launched the careers of some of the most talented young actors, notably Jitendra Kumar, Rasika Dugal, Divyendu Sharma and Maanvi Gagroo.

The startup, which received hefty Tiger Global funding in 2016, was founded by another IIT-Kharagpur alumnus, Arunabh Kumar, along with fellow IIT-ians Sarkar and Amit Golani.

Sarkar and Golani now run their own production house, Poshan Pa Pictures, which recently presented the medical thriller, 'Kaala Paani', starring Mona Singh and Ashutosh Gowariker.



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Title: When Arvind Kejriwal was 'Panchayat' star Jitendra Kumar's first claim to fame

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