In a parochial world of male-chauvinism, parched stay the women. Parched for a little place in the world. Parched for teensy droplets of hope in a male dominant society. A rustic village of feeble minds constantly gnaws at them, laughs brazenly at their winds of change. But despite everything that stands against them, a coterie of three friends take on the challenge, defying dams that have them bound.
UNABASHED PLOT OF PARCHED (SPOILERS GALORE)
Parched wades beautifully into ballsy waters of change. A lot of times it goes lewd in doing so, but if you really look at it, you can’t help but think why is it alright in India to show just men being obscene? Why does it bother Indian men when they see women act like them? Why can’t they stand a sordid joke if it emanates from a woman’s mouth? If you try to reason with it, suddenly every coarse gesture becomes nothing but a mere hue of naughty.
One of the most appalling moments of Parched lurks right at the beginning. An unfortunate woman tries escaping the indecency levied upon her in her wedded land. She has taken recluse in her mother’s bosoms, but even so is brought under the gavel by her ugly community. The judge being one of those old inane fellas who, instead of doing what is right, bluntly orders her to go back.
What is even more nerve-racking is the fact that even when she confesses everything in front of her mother, she stands their motionless, emotionless as if the concept of injustice to women is an accepted way of living. It literally rips your heart apart when you watch her being taken as she looks at her helpless mother in tears of wrath and hatred. As if speaking,
“How could you let them take me?”
THE MAIN STORYLINE
For its primal plot, we have a prostitute named Bijli played convincingly well by Surveen Chawla who brushes off her defiance on her insular friends. She tries to show them what a good time is all about. Her freedom is eloquent in a progressive way, and if it were not for her, life would have been really punishing for her childhood friend Rani, a widow played superbly by Tannishtha Chatterjee, and Lajjo played extraordinarily well by Radhika Apte. The latter is a woman caught in the abominable clutches of domestic violence. The presence of Bijli in their lives gives them so much to catch up on that they forget all about the myopic vision of their parched land ephemerally.
Along with several havocking subplots in the tale of Parched, the major one stays concentrated around Rani. We see her rustic world with her stinted eyes, where it is considered a disgrace if women cut their hair short. On her way to marry her son Gulab played exceptionally by Riddhi Sen, who by the way is picking up all the wrong things that their short-sighted world has, she comes across the reticent Janaki (Lehar Khan), who ends up getting instantly mocked at in hushed voices for her short hair.
Irritated by “what people think of her” and the lost honor, Gulab goes harsh on her doing what every brazen man in their little village isn’t afraid to do. He beats her, deprives her of the elusive good times, and shows her who the boss is.
Leena Yadav shows the bluntness of child marriage, even in those fleeting moments of geniality. She manifests the brusqueness of Dowry, and the pointlessness of the significance of something as trivial as hair. These contrasting things when placed together makes you hate such ugly traditions even more.
Riddhi Sen remains the element of misconduct. His acting is so brilliant, so convincing that you cannot hate him enough for his role, and yet love him for his acting. Radhika Apte’s effortless natural acts will have you convinced that she was built for that role. She acts like nobody’s watching her. Like there are no cameras on her; how acting is truly supposed to be like.
Sumeet Vyas’s Kishan is the only good the village retains. With the future of the village hating the guts of a man who is trying to do them some good, it goes on to show how no one really cares about winds of change. They look down upon him in disgust as a person progressing. Then they try to beat the crap out of him. Malice is written all over them.
I loved how Yadav tries to depict the concept of love which was nothing but elusive in that wretched village. It is evident when Lajjo, with hopes of making amends with her husband and her body, visits a man in a cave to conceive a child. Her innocence is apparent when Lajjo lies down with her legs wide open oblivious to an imminent emotional uplifting. Adil Hussain the mystic man then bows down to her, a reverence she was alien to. Then makes love to her in a way she has never experienced before. You can’t help but feel happy for her.
Some conversations are powerful enough to hit you with a brick. Like the one where Bijli realizes ‘how there is no expletive meant to disgrace men’? How come we never thought about it? Even in its derogatory sense of change you realize Leena Yadav talks a lot of sense.
The culminating point of the movie finds every character trying to wring off whatever had them bound. It is quite metaphorical when the Ravana, the evil burns, when Lajjo’s husband catches fire. When she stops Rani from putting out the fire, it goes on to tell how pushed Lajjo had felt all her life. That she decided to let nature’s poetic justice bring home justice.
Leena Yadav’s direction is magnificent when she has issues to address. She finds beauty in the deserted barren shots by taking it down with her subtleties. She is a clean winner when it comes to bringing accuracy out in the open. However, where the drama is supposed to be the decimating kind, she doesn’t call out her actors to perform.
The beauty of the movie is that it doesn’t make amends right away. This helps it to stay miles away from artificiality. That being said, what its characters encounter is not an overnight change. It goes on to show how their way of living still stays accepted in their minds even as they come out victorious.
What miffs you is that even though the word police was mentioned once, you don’t get to see them at all. It could be metaphorical in a sense about how in an unlawful state of disarray, people break rules without caring for its repercussions. Gulab was one typical example of that.
You can order your copy of the Parched movie here on Amazon:
When you try to squint hard at the drawbacks of the Parched movie, you realize that there aren’t that many. Except the fact that there have been plenty of movies on similar topics and Parched offers nothing original. Amongst other, there exists deliberate shots that seem pretty forced just to squeeze out fun. It appears at times like an unwrapped contrivance that you can see through to which you might shake your head to.
Rani wears a weird vexed layer of confusion. One time it feels like her character is trying to change, and is going to do something right hereon, but then she proves you wrong by doing the opposite of right. It is only until we reach the climax that we see her get on the rails again.
You can check out the trailer of the movie Parched here: