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‘Parched’ movie review: A disturbingly beautiful film which was need of the hour

Directed By: Leena Yadav
Produced By:  Ajay Devgn
Cast: Radhika Apte, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Surveen Chawla
Duration: 2 hours 00 minutes
Bollywood Bubble Rating: 3.5/5

Three women, three different journeys, three different shades of hardship. What unites them is the burning agony inside. Leena Yadav’s ‘Parched’, with its brutal honesty, will haunt you long after it’s over, and yet at the end, it is a beautifully content feeling.

The film is set in the backdrop of a patriarchal, feudal and regressive rural India. Rani (Tannishtha Chatterje), married at 15 and widowed at 17, lives with her spoilt and adamant son Gulal and marries him off to Janaki, a teenaged girl who falls prey to Gulal’s ruthless emotional and physical abuse and infidelity. Lajjo (Radhika Apte) is a barren woman who silently bears her husband’s torture and other villagers’ taunts as they point fingers at her infertility. Bijli (Surveen Chawla) is an erotic dancer, a woman with unquenched emotional thirst, exhausted with men’s greedy attention over her physical possession. The otherwise mundane life changes as the women are desperate to break free. Rani, who suppressed her own wish of tasting independence and education all these years, lets her daughter-in-law run away with her childhood love for a better life ahead. Lajjo, tired with all the uncalled shame she has received, decides to make love with another man and gets pregnant. Bijli, tired of faking happiness, longs for a life away only filled with love and simplicity. They are walking different ways, but the destination is mutual.

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The beauty of ‘Parched’ is in its layers. It is a beautifully crafted narration where each parallel story is a firm protest against patriarchy, feudalism, regression, dominance. Each story disturbs you, shakes you upside down and hence, compels you to look at its relevance and worthiness.

We can’t absolutely choose our favourite amongst Tannishtha Chatterjee, Radhika Apte and Surveen Chawla for all of them have been so fabulous! Radhika, whose capacity as an artist is beyond words, has proven why she is almost every director’s right choice.

Tannishtha leaves her urban character behind and gets into the shoes of a suffering village woman. For Surveen, this film should be the turning point in her career. Riddhi Sen as Gulal demands a special mention and has a long way to go. We loved the music. Considering the detailing, screenplay and execution, ‘Parched’ surely remains Yadav’s best work so far and will leave her admirers longing for more. Ajay Devgn must be credited for backing this film. We hope more producers take the genre of alternative films more seriously and fund them adequately.

However, ‘Parched’ should not be your pick if you only like to witness emotions in their polite forms. It unfolds a lot of torture, much of which strains us. It depicts the little to littlest sexual and emotional demands we aren’t even comfortable to admit. It is disturbing, because it is a reflection of the reality most of us like to overlook. It is beyond the ideas of how things are, and is high on the idea of how things really should be. It is an inspiration.

If you’re rather up for a not-so-polite reality check, go for it!

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