Parched (2016) Movie Review
Like last week’s ‘Pink‘, this week’s bollywood release ‘Parched’ also offers a strong social comment on women’s struggle in a male dominated society. The setting merely shifts from the country’s capital to a fictional village in Gujarat. Truly, Shahar ho yaa gaon, Hindustani aurat teri yehi kahaani…
The kahaani here revolves around three women. Lajjo (Radhika Apte) is battered horribly by her husband daily for her supposed infertility. Rani (Tannishtha Chatterjee) is a middle aged widow whose attempt to get her sadistic son married doesn’t work out well. The third lady is a nautch girl called Bijli (Surveen Chawla) who faces tough competition from a new girl who threatens to displace her. ( Read: PINK (2016) Movie Review
All the three women face severe discrimination, mental and physical abuse but finally rise above the ingrained gender prejudices prevailing in our society. If Pink was all about women fighting for their rights in a courtroom, Parched is about them breaking free from male bondage.
Of the cast, Radhika Apte and Tannishtha Chatterjee are expectedly pitch perfect but it’s Surveen Chawla who truly surprises you with her bold character of a sex worker who dares to dream. The sexual banter between the trio is amusing. The scene where they discuss why all cuss words are named only after women and not men is LOL inducing. There’s also a ‘Fire’ (1996) moment between Radhika and Tannishtha though I didn’t quite get if it was just a one off encounter or were their characters closet lesbian? ( Read: Akira (2016) Movie Review)
On the flipside, the male characters are unidimensionally villainous – alcoholic, abusive, womanizers. Infact, most of the males are shown living off their women’s salary. The one good guy (Sumeet Vyas) who employs the womenfolk for handicraft work also doesn’t pass muster. Comparably, Ketan Mehta’s ‘Mirch Masala’ (1986) had far more realistic male characters as well as accurate rural Gujarat landscape.
On the tech front, cinematography by Russell Carpenter is extraordinary. It elevates the movie to an altogether different level. Editing by Kevin Tent is crisp with a run time of just under two hours. ( Read: The Virgins – Short Film Review)
On the whole, Parched may not be universally acceptable like ‘Pink’ but nevertheless, makes a strong comment on women empowerment. It’s heartening to see Bollywood explore such bold themes…and equally pleasing to find the censor board not butchering any pertinent sex scenes and cuss words. Bravo!
Parched Official Trailer 2016 HD