Released: September 2015
Director: Omung Kumar
Starring: Tannishtha Chatterjee, Radhika Apte and Surveen Chawla
Length: 1hrs 58min
At a time in western society when we are fighting double standards and embracing the feminist movement, it’s easy to forget that women aren’t always afforded the same rights as their male counterparts in many other countries. Parched is a gritty portrayal of the harsh realities that numerous women face on a day to day basis. This all woman film starring Tannishtha Chatterjee, Radhika Apte and Surveen Chawla and directed by Leena Yadav gives a voice to all of those women who don’t have a voice of their own.
The film received an outstanding reception at its debut in the 2015 Sundance film festival. It will be released in India September 23. I’m really interested to see if it will have a similar reception. It can be hard to make a piece of art that addresses such a huge issue head on without making a lot of people uncomfortable.
The story follows that of three women, Rani, Lajjo and Bijli. All three women are oppressed by the patriarchal society in which they live. Some are more apparent than others. Bijli is a prostitute that spends her days and her nights dancing on a pole and sleeping with men for money. This of course leaves her completely ostracized from the rural communities that she works in. However she finds true friendship and love in Rani the widow of one of her former clients and Lajjo a barren seamstress with a great sense of humor.
Lajjo and Rani face their own struggles as well. Lajjo is constantly beaten by her drunken husband and lonely Rani is tasked with arranging a marriage for her ill-mannered 15 year old son to a dejected village girl. All three women are miserable and dream of a happier and more fulfilling life. But they dare not broach issues openly. Instead they find respite in the sisterhood that they have created. These are the reoccurring themes throughout the movie: women shouldn’t be educated, women are only useful for childbearing, and women are not people, only the property of their fathers and husbands.
I don’t want to give too many spoilers about the movie but I will end this write up by saying that this film is not just for entertainment. It is comparable to an eye opening documentary that just happens to be scripted. While watching it I could imagine thousands of women like them in similar situations across the world wishing to have their voice heard. It would be great if you watched this film and gave them a listen.