The women shine bright as Parched vehemently paves a point!
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Compassionately shot by Oscar-winning cinematographer Russell Carpentar (of Titanic fame), Parched takes you on a thought-provoking journey through rural India.
As parts of our country remain regressive and even daunting, women persistently combat poverty, power and abuse to break through the shackles of a backward society.
Set amidst the landscapes of rural India, director Leena Yadav creates a world that is bright, colourful and mystical; and yet there is an underlying tone of darkness. Parched depicts problems that run rampant in our society. It puts poverty, child marriage, dowry, abuse and familial rape right up on the question board.
In Parched, four women fight their own separate battles while still finding reserves of strength, smiles and solace in each other’s company to help turn the tide. Rani (Tannishtha Chatterjee) is a widow who takes care of her bed-ridden mother-in-law and her arrogant chauvinist son Gulab. A victim of child marriage and abuse herself, she gives up everything to find him a young bride in Janaki (Leher Khan). Lajjo (Radhika Apte) is a childless woman in an abusive relationship. Her alcoholic husband blames her for not being able to conceive. Bijli (Surveen Chawla) is a dancer in a traveling troupe, who also entertains men. She is clutching onto her sexuality.
All four women play their part with power and poise. You can’t help but feel for each of their wonderfully complex characters. In times of adversity, darkness and turmoil they still manage to find light moments to talk and smile about. It is their relentless spirit that shines. These women are parched for everything: passion, love, sex and freedom. And this keeps the film on its toes.
Even though in a worthless marriage, Janaki’s character brings a beautiful innocence to the forefront. As a young bride, she gets dragged into the darkness of child marriage and your heart instantly goes out to her. As her character develops, you empathize with her more and more. Having put Janaki in a terrible situation, there is a heartfelt moment when Rani realizes her downfall and sets her free.
In true contrast, another young bride (intensely played by Sayani Gupta) is sent back to her in-laws despite being constantly molested there. It is a powerfully sad moment in the movie.
The Dussehra sequence at the end of Parched; symbolising the burning of evil is intercut with the emancipation of the three women. It almost feels like even Yadav couldn’t contain keeping her characters locked up in the story and sets them free.
But it’s not just the women who shine. Rani and Lajjo both work for Kishan (Sumeet Vyas), a modern well-educated man who brings a lot of good to the culture and community. He carries a sliver of hope for bettering things in the village until Gulab and his goon friends beat him down.
If you overlook the few loose ends in Parched, it paves way to making a powerful point.
Movies like Parched are a reality check and wake-up call to real world problems. While we may live in a more modern setting, let’s not forget about the people who don’t share that privilege. Change and liberation is needed for one and all. And until that happens, we are all still parched for freedom!
After its initial release at the Toronto Film Festival and then travelling the world over to many awards and acclaim, the film finally released in India on 23 September 2016.
Some luscious cinematography by Russell Carpenter woven with an ensemble of terrific actors and an incredible message;
Go watch Parched!
– Varun Kumar | Enterapped
Parched got nominated at 10 International Film Festivals and won 7 of those nominations.
Director/Writer – Leena Yadav
Cast – Tannishtha Chatterjee (Rani), Surveen Chawla (Bijli), Radhika Apte (Lajjo), Lehar Khan (Janaki), Riddhi Sen (Gulab), Sumeet Vyas (Kishan), Mahesh Balraj (Manoj), Sayani Gupta (Champa)
Writer – Supratik Sen
Editor – Kevin Trent
Cinematographer – Russell Carpenter