Cast: Tannishtha Chatterjee, Radhika Apte, Surveen Chawla, Sumeet Vyas
Director: Leena Yadav
Rating: 2.5/5 stars
Parched is an unbalanced film. No doubt, it strongly dives into the rural lives and the injustice happening with women in the name of traditions. However, the incidents that make the movie are predictable and monotonous. The conclusion of the film was unsatisfactory and I would say, of a narrow vision.
Parched is a story of three women from a village of Rajasthan. Rani (Tannishtha Chatterjee) is a widowed woman whose son Gulab is about to get married. Lajjo (Radhika Apte) is married and is a close friend of Rani. Lajjo cannot bear a child so she always gets a despised treatment from her husband and the village. Bijli (Surveen Chawla) is a prostitute and the most vibrant of these three. Bijli is a childhood friend of Rani. This is a story of these women and the torture, violence men inflict upon them and their final act to break away from these shackles.
The story of Parched is predictable but that would have worked if these events are written in an interesting way. Most of the story doesn’t even involve much wrongdoing except the violence from Lajjo’s husband. It mostly focuses on three women goofing around the hills and deserts of the village in the night.
Leena Yadav has written and directed the film. Leena’s script has a lot of flaws which make the movie’s intention confused. When you are making a realistic film you can’t add illogical aspects which are sure to ruin it. First of all, I didn’t understand how these two tradition following women from the village always manage to sneak out from their house and do all that stuff which society wouldn’t approve? How come no one ever notices their act? Lajjo’s husband never notices that her wife is not at home in the night? This is village, not an urban life. Moreover, Lajjo’s solution to her problem was not convincing. Whatever she is, still she is a decent woman. This in fact distorted her character as a woman.
Bijli’s character too was somewhat confusing. Yes, she was brave and careless from the start but she never looked like she is a victim who had to become a prostitute. She was quite enjoying it till she is getting a lot of attention and monetary rewards. When she started facing a competition in her profession, she just runs away. So, she is just escaping, not trying to make things right.
When Leena Yadav’s writing introduced Kishan in the film, I thought he is a good trump card but the story forgets to give any justification to his vital role. I mean, why even bother to give him any importance if you are just going to ignore him at a later stage? Kishan was a good man who gave employment to women in village so I would have loved to see him doing some good in the end or at least assist these three women in their quest to freedom. By the way, who was that guy calling Rani on her phone? What was the point of it all? No village woman answers these calls or at least not regularly. It was ridiculous and unnecessary for a film that is trying to prove a serious and realistic point.
The most disappointing thing was the final act.
Spoiler alert: When you know things are wrong with society and these women finally gather the courage to make things right, why run? This sent a wrong message. The film which is trying to show the bravery of women should have shown how they take charge of their lives and change things by staying in their own village. The things were not so bad that they had to leave.
Leena Yadav as a director captures the essence of each character. Rani, Lajjo, Bijli, Janaki, Gulab and Kishan looked real. Three lead were really impressive which make us empathetic towards them which was the true point of the direction. Also, their restricted way of living with dupatta on the head and then totally different avatar in the night when no one is there to judge them was brilliant. This is where the freedom angle works quite in the favour of the film.
The core of the film that showed the problems women face were not told in any refreshing or interesting manner by Leena. All those violence and problems were told in a monotonous way. I would have expected a lot more powerful approach to raise the eye-brows. The film really doesn’t enter the skin.
Parched will be remembered for its brilliant cast performances. Tannishtha Chatterjee is such an expert actress. She perfectly embodies the rural attire. Her effectiveness as a widowed woman, trying to manage the family and then enjoying freedom with friends is worthy of applaud. Radhika Apte also owns the role. Her troubled life with husband was conveyed nicely. Surveen Chawla’s role was vibrant and she makes you enjoy her character with her charming presence and sharp punches.
Parched is a good attempt to narrate the rural women’s problems but so many loose ends pulled the film down. In the end, it is just a superficial story.