STORY: A widow, Rani (Tannishtha), a childless woman, Lajjo (Radhika) and a sex worker Bijli (Surveen) from a village in a North Western Region in India are victims of age-old traditions like child marriage, physical abuse, alcoholic husbands and social apathy. Will they be able to break the shackles?
REVIEW: Leena Yadav’s Parched takes you into a disturbing and thought-provoking territory. Even as it cleverly intertwines the stories of the three protagonists all of who have had a raw deal in life, it simultaneously puts the spotlight on how there is still an India where a woman is treated as a sex object; where her only role is to serve her man. Rani who was married off at 15 to an alcoholic Shankar has been widowed for 17 years and has to fend for herself and her callous son.
Lajjo, a village beauty, is declared ‘barren’ by her drunken husband and is subjected to physical abuse each day. Lajjo and Rani often seek solace in each other’s company. When they get a break from making handicrafts, their rozi-roti, they bond with a sex worker called Biji (Surveen), who’s had it rough for no fault of hers. The common ground for their bonding is a need for love, sex and compassion in that order.
The film addresses how there is nothing shameful about a woman’s need for sex or ownership of her body. As the village women talk about their carnal desires, you empathise. Like last week’s matinee offering Pink, you raise a toast to the director for raising some hard-hitting questions on the double standards of society. When Bijli asks, How come there are only abuses of the MC, BC variety or gaalis named only after women and none after men, you applaud. Frankly, like the film suggests, perhaps it is time to coin expletives after men too.
Academy-Award winning cinematographer, Russell Carpenter has captured the arid landscape beautifully. Parched is a roadmap for our oppressed female population who have been victims of a misogynist mindset for eons.
Tannishtha and Radhika are terrific, but it is Surveen who your heart bleeds for.