by P Sinha

 Posted on 23-Sep-2016 06:40 AM

Change hasn’t reached this village in rural northwest India, except perhaps the ubiquitous mobile phone and later in the story, a TV. This is a village where a woman’s primary role is still considered to serve her man. Where fifteen is a ripe age for marrying off girls. Where once married, a girl’s family will condemn her to stay in her marital home, never mind physical and sexual abuse. However, tradition couldn’t stop the reversal in the dowry system where, thanks to a skewed sex ratio, it is the men that pay dowry to women.  Parched is the story of three women in this village. It is about their ambitions and desires, their thirst for a life which seems to have bypassed them. It is about their journey and the bonding they share.

Rani (Tannishtha Chatterjee) is a widow in her thirties with a wayward son Gulab (Riddhi Sen) who is abusive towards his teenage bride Janaki (Leher Khan).  Rajjo (Radhika Apte) is Rani’s friend who is unable to conceive and is abused by her drunkard husband for the fact. Little does she know of the secret he has been harbouring.  The third friend Bijli (Surveen Chawla) is a social outcast, a dancer in a troupe who doubles up as a sex-worker. She yearns for the one man who will truly love her, while simultaneously being insecure of her longevity as a dancer.


    By Ajay Devgn FFilms,

The film makes a passing reference to the general village politics where a woman panchayat leader is still considered subservient to her male equivalent and tips hat to the social workers who are helping the women attain independence. The hint of lesbian affair is never quite followed up. Men are caricatured. All of them, with the exception of Sumeet Vyas’s social entrepreneur, want to subjugate and repress women.  

The actors have all performed very well. Tannishtha Chatterjee and Radhika Apte have proved their mettle in similar roles before, but Surveen Chawla surprises with her gritty performance. Sumeet Vyas impresses in his role but his character is under-developed. I think the audience, especially women, will like to see more of him. Cinematography by Russell Carpenter is top notch.

The film has been made with an obvious eye for international film festival circuit, where it has already won numerous awards. It has a slick look and the frames are vivid with sun-drenched colours of rural Rajasthan. However, the treatment lends a distant feel to the film. It feels like an outsider’s view of the goings-on, not an organic tale.

It is hard to judge Parched. It is a story well written with superb acting and cinematography, yet wasn’t able to suck me in the story as I wanted it to. Still, it is definitely worth a watch.

Rating : 3/5

Starring: Tannishtha Chatterjee, Radhika Apte, Surveen Chawla, Lehar Khan, Riddhi Sen, Sumeet Vyas

Director: Leena Yadav

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