Verdict: A bold take on the atrocities against women.
After Akira and Pink, Parched is the third Hindi film in September that focuses on women. The first two were set in the city and had strong, educated women in the lead. Parched, which has already won accolades at prestigious film festivals, is based in rural India but that doesn't stop its protagonists from being ambitious.
In a male-dominated village in Gujarat, women are treated as doormats. They are married off at a young age, only to be beaten and abused by their husbands. The ordeal is shown through the lives of its three central characters – Rani (Tannishtha Chatterjee), Lajjo (Radhika Apte), and Bijli (Surveen Chawla). Each of them has their own problems – Rani has to repay a huge loan, Lajjo is trashed by her husband for not being able to bear a child, and Bijli has to prove her worth as a prostitute. The women discuss everything with each other, be it their troubles, their relationships or their sexual desires. Through the journey of these three women, Parched tries to address the issues of dowry, child marriage, and other social evils.
Unfortunately, the film is being promoted as one that talks about women empowerment but very little attention is paid to it. Parched is more about the friendship among the three women and the social issues are just thrown in to make a point. Surveen Chawla's character, in particular, seems confused about what she wants in life, and the actresses' over-the-top acting doesn’t help either. The sex scenes aren't aesthetically shot and might make you cringe.
Parched is directed by Leena Yadav whose previous outings were Shabd and Teen Patti. With this latest film, it is safe to say that she has more than made up for her last two movies. She handles the sensitive subject with ease and doesn't let the film get too preachy or dramatic. A movie like this has very little commercial value and is heavily dependent on its cast to deliver. Parched is Radhika Apte's second film this year and she is slowly proving to be a character actor. Not every actor would be willing to play such a bold role but Apte does a splendid job. Ditto for Tannishtha Chatterjee, whose character is pretty complex.
Why You Should Watch This Movie:
In spite of its flaws, Parched manages to win your heart. It’s not the typical run-of-the-mill Bollywood movie. The exchanges between the leading ladies will make you smile. It’s also great to see how women from the village break free to live life on their own terms. Bollywood movies could easily do with more characters like Rani and Lajjo.