Radhika Apte, Surveen Chawla and Tannishtha Chatterjee's film is failed by too much violence and unnecessary gloss. Some things are better left to the imagination. But despite Parched’s obvious worthy intentions, its execution left me discomfited. The film shows all its punches landing where they hurt most, and after a while it all becomes too much, almost gratuitous.
Leena Yadav's Parched is an irresistible beast of a film. As incendiary as it is entertaining, it goes where Indian cinema rarely does without becoming exploitative - into the erogenous fantasies of long-suppressed village women who are no longer willing to countenance their restrictive veils. Radhika Apte is outstanding as the bruised and battered Lajjo, a woman whose zest for life never wanes no matter what hits her.
Leena Yadav’s film is brave, raw and a sufficing attempt at throwing light over the issues of women in rural India. Parched comes off as a mere repartee over women’s issues. The solution it concludes with is a reminder that this is just a film and reality seems far from it. It has enjoyed critical acclaim outside India, but as an Indian, I would say the film does not comes as a surprise. We are familiar with these harsh realities of rural India and a new outlook towards it would have been a revelation. As for the performances and cinematography, if you enjoy art films, this could be your pick!
Leena Yadav's Parched takes you into a disturbing and thought-provoking territory. Even as it cleverly intertwines the stories of the three protagonists all of who have had a raw deal in life, it simultaneously puts the spotlight on how there is still an India where a woman is treated as a sex object; where her only role is to serve her man. Parched is a roadmap for our oppressed female population who have been victims of a misogynist mindset for eons. Tannishtha and Radhika are terrific, but it is Surveen who your heart bleeds for.
The film's leads -- Chatterjee and Apte -- are two of the finest Indian indie cinema actresses of our times. And both give strong moving performances, including a brief tender scene between the two -- a rare moment in Hindi cinema. The rest of the supporting cast is equally good. The film is lovingly shot by Russell Carpenter (Titanic, Jobs). He makes the characters and Rajasthan's landscape glow. And under Yadav's able guidance, Parched genuinely shines.
Parched is worth the time and money. The spirit of the film is celebrating fights against an unjust system and society and emerging winners — not because they have well-intentioned men rescuing them, but because they can save themselves. Watch it for the sake of the celebratory mood or watch it for a heated debate in your bedroom. Do not miss it at all.