Set in a Rajasthani village, Leena Yadav’s Parched focuses on three women shackled by misogynistic patriarchal society that they are a part of. These are women with gumption and grace, and yet they are unable to break free, from the suffocating chains they are put in by men in their lives. It is when a fourth woman, a child bride enters their lives, that the three best friends rebel against tyranny and forge their own destiny.
Writer, director Leena Yadav tells the story with dallop of body humour, and many moments of genuine pathos. Beautifully shot and embedded with sharp wit, the film’s key strength lies in the astute characterisation of the four women. Tanishtha Chatterjee is effortlessly natural as Rani, a 32 year old who has been widowed half her life.
Rani struggles to discipline her loutish seventeen year old son, even if she empathises with her fifteen year old daughter in law, played with aching innocence by Lehar Khan. Now Rani’s confidante is Lajjo, who is regularly beaten up by an alcoholic husband because she cannot conceive. Radhika Apte plays Lajjo, with an intriguing mixture of carefree spirit and vulnerability. Bijli, a travelling erotic dancer and prostitute is an old friend of Rani’s and Lajjo’s.
The two see Bijli as a bold and brave one, but she ironically can’t escape from the clutches of men in her own life. Surveen Chawla as Bijli practically lights up every scene that she is in. She plays the character with spunky humour, barely conceals her deep seated frustration over her plight. May be one would wish that the director did not tar all men with the same brush, except for couple of characters here and there.
The movie is also over indulgent with both exoticism and eroticism leaning viewers to feel as if they are stuck in an unwieldy loop. But for these hitches, the movie is an entertaining ride both emotionally and sexually, and will have you rooting and cheering as the three leads find their feat and freedom in the end .