‘Parched’ serves up feminism of a different kind. It’s not at all urban and contemporary; in fact, the themes of misogyny and chauvinism at work in this movie are unmistakably feudal. But it presents a way out of hell for the women. Even when the women helm from rural India and are not at all educated, they have a chance at a better life. It portrays a harsh reality of Indian culture, especially one that’s prevalent in the deepest interiors. While the reflections of women exploitation may not be new, this movie does add a deep sexual angle to the storytelling. Movies on women exploitation have never been this bold. And that’s ‘Parched’s trump card. That’s what makes it such a fascinating film.
The story is told with three women characters Rani (Tannishtha Chatterjee), Lajjo (Radhika Apte) and Bijli (Surveen Chawla). Rani is a widow taking care of her household, trying to marry her 17-year-old son. Lajjo is a likeable young woman who has an abusive husband and she draws his ire for the single reason that she can’t conceive a child. Bijli is a stage show dancer and a prostitute, but she’s also the most spirited of the lot. The three women are best friends and how they eke out a living in their hostile and misogyny filled environs is the basic premise of ‘Parched’.