Last week’s big release Pink gave us an insight into the misogynistic mindset of the supposedly sophisticated urban population. Set in the capital of the country, we had a foreign educated young professional lucidly explain how decent women must behave. With Parched, we enter the hinterlands. A village trembling at the cusp of modernity (scared that a new TV set in the village will lead the women astray).
The movie has been in the news for Radhika Apte’s nude scenes. Stripped of context, these scenes are the only things people have come to associate with the film. This is tragic considering that Parched is so much more than titillation and skin show.
Leena Yadav, who doubles up as the writer and director, helps us meet the women behind the labels. Rani is a 32-year-old widow who goes bride hunting for her 17-year-old son, mortgaging her own house. Lajjo is a happy soul who gets beaten black and blue every other night by her drunken husband. She wants a child and blames herself for her inability to have one.
Surveen Chawla delivers a fabulous act too. It is interesting how the very dance stage that has firmly put her at the margins of society is also the source of her individuality and strength. Bijli’s stage, her way with men, is a skill that she hones against the very patriarchy that wants to straightjacket her.
The questions raised are poignant but the solution put forth seems flimsy and ineffectual. It is this that dampens the overall impact of Parched. But for all the things that it does well, the movie definitely merits 3.5 QUINTS OUT OF 5.