|Directed by||Leena Yadav|
Gulab Singh Tanwar
|Written by||Leena Yadav|
|Music by||Hitesh Sonik|
|Edited by||Kevin Tent|
|Box office||₹12.03 crore (US$1.79 million)|
Parched is a 2015 Indian drama film written and directed by Leena Yadav and produced by Ajay Devgan under his banner Ajay Devgn FFilms. It premiered at the Special Presentations section of the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival. In India, the film released on 23 September 2016.
Parched is the story of four women in a desert village of Rajasthan, India. The village and the society are plagued by several social evils, age-old traditions and practices of patriarchy, child marriage, dowry, marital rapes and physical and mental abuse.
Rani (Tannishtha Chatterjee) is a widow struggling to support her old mother-in-law and teenage son, Gulab (Riddhi Sen). Following village customs, Rani marries Gulab off to a child bride by paying a hefty sum to the bride's family. Meanwhile, Gulab is disrespectful, rebellious, and prefers to loiter with a gang of spoilt friends, and spend time with sex workers. Janki (Lehar Khan), the child bride, hopes to stop the marriage by chopping off her hair but is still forced into the relation. Lajjo (Radhika Apte) lives in the same village as Rani, and is a close friend and aid in Rani's struggles. Lajjo is in an abusive marriage with an alcoholic husband, Manoj (Mahesh Balraj). Having failed to conceive, Lajjo is mocked for being infertile and therefore worthless in the eyes of her husband and society. The fourth woman is Bijli (Surveen Chawla), an erotic dancer in a travelling entertainment company. She is eye candy for the men in the village and doubles as a sex worker. Because of her profession, Bijli is ridiculed in the day and not welcomed at auspicious events. Bijli is a close friend and advisor to both Rani and Lajjo.
The movie begins with Rani and Lajjo visiting another village to see Janki and fix a price for her dowry. Meanwhile, Gulab is seen loitering around a bus stop with his friends. He chases and teases an educated woman, until her husband, Kishan (Sumeet Vyas) approaches. Gulab and his friends comment that it is inappropriate for a woman to travel alone and look at them directly in the eye. While at Janki's house, Rani receives calls on a cell phone bought for her by Gulab. The anonymous caller started off as a wrong number but now consistently tries to charm her. Although Rani is excited by being approached by a man, her happiness wanes when she realizes that her status as a widow may push him away. Later, at the Gram Panchayat, the village participates in solving local issues. The first issue is of a girl named Champa (Sayani Gupta) who ran away from her husband and tried to return to her parents. The Panchayat forces her to return despite her revelation that her husband's male family members all rape her. Kishan and his wife try intervening but are ridiculed for their progressive opinions and Kishan's marriage to an educated, working woman from Manipur.
Kishan is a forward thinking local entrepreneur and employs women in the village for handicrafts and handloom jobs. Both Rani and Lajjo, among other women in the village, work for Kishan and are proud of the money they make from their hard work. In another matter at the Panchayat, the women collectively ask for a satellite dish TV connection. They say that it will alleviate the women's boredom and also stop the men from visiting erotic dance shows. Their demand was turned down previously by the panchayat elders, giving the reason that women of village will be corrupted by the liberal images on the television and also the lack of finances. The women reveal that Kishan has secured a large contract for their handicrafts and so they are prepared to save money for the installation of the satellite and televisions. The elders reluctantly agree and this angers some men in the village, including Gulab, who start to resent Kishan for trying to liberate the women.
The conservative and patriarchal village men are seen to be constantly visiting Bijli. She has been increasingly turning down offers for sex work which irks her boss, who threatens to replace her with a new girl Rekha (Tanya Sachdeva), who is much younger than her. Lajjo is repeatedly abused and raped by her husband and blamed for being infertile. Gulab's marriage to Janki pushes him deeper into the darker areas of loitering and prostitutes, and he is later kidnapped for not paying a prostitute in the nearby city. A distraught Rani approaches Kishan and takes out a loan in order to save Gulab, pushing her further into debt. Gulab continues down his path of destruction and self entitlement, and together with his friends, take revenge on Kishan. First they destroy his handicraft goods, and later on they beat him half to death, which makes Kishan and his wife to leave the village. Janki struggles in the marriage and is repeatedly beaten by Gulab.
Frustrated, Bijli takes her employers car, picks up Rani, Lajjo and Janki, and visit a local fort where they get a chance to talk freely. Lajjo realizes that her inability to give birth might also be just her husband's inability. In an experiment, Lajjo has sex with Bijli's lover (Adil Hussain) and becomes pregnant. Bijli returns to the company to find that her dancing spot has been given to Rekha. She resorts to engaging in traumatic rough sex with multiple men in order to make money which leads them to raping her.
Rani discovers that her last bit of savings has been stolen and blames Janki. Later that night, Janki questions Gulab about the money, and he begins to beat her. Rani stops and confronts him, and Gulab angrily walks away, saying that he intends to leave the women to fend for themselves. The next day, Rani sells her house and pays off her debts. She relieves Janki of her marriage, allowing her to reunite with her childhood love Rajesh and asking her to continue with her studies. Lajjo informs Manoj of her pregnancy and he begins to beat her, after which she realizes that he is aware of his impotency. Manoj begins to savagely attack Lajjo, and Rani tries to stop him. As Rani witnesses, Manoj falls on fire and is burnt alive. Rani, Lajjo and Bijli together finally run away from the village in search for a better life, away from all the misery of customs, traditions and patriarchy.
- Tannishtha Chatterjee as Rani
- Radhika Apte as Lajjo
- Surveen Chawla as Bijli
- Adil Hussain as mystic lover
- Sumeet Vyas as Kishan
- Lehar Khan as Janki, Gulab's wife
- Riddhi Sen as Gulab, Rani's son
- Sayani Gupta as Champa
The film received critical acclaim. On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, Parched has an approval score of 90% on the basis of 21 reviews with an average rating of 7.4 out of 10. Meena Iyer from The Times of India rated the film 4.5 out 5 stars, and mentioned that Parched "takes you into a disturbing and thought-provoking territory". Anupama Chopra of Hindustan Times gave the film a rating of 3 out of 5 saying that, "The larger narrative of the film is inert and clunky but the spirited female characters will stay with you." Saibal Chatterjee of NDTV gave the film a rating of 4 out of 5 saying that, "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." Shubhra Gupta of The Indian Express gave the film a rating of 2 out of 5 saying that, "Radhika Apte, Surveen Chawla and Tannishtha Chatterjee's film is failed by too much violence and unnecessary gloss." The Hindu criticized the film saying that, "Parched is an unconvincing indictment of patriarchy that feels staged." and gave the film a rating of 2 out of 5. Suparna Sharma of Deccan Chronicle gave the film a rating of 2.5 out of 5 saying that, "Parched feels like it’s unsettled, struggling between wanting to tell a real story, but also keen on concocting a fairytale happy-ending."
Rajeev Masand of News18 gave the film a rating of 3 out of 5 and called it an "entertaining ride" but also wished that "Yadav didn’t tar all the men in the village with the same brush, except for a couple of characters here and there." Aseem Chhabra of Rediff praised the acting performances of Tannishtha Chatterjee and Radhika Apte and said gave the film a rating of 3.5 out of 5 saying that, "under Yadav's able guidance, Parched genuinely shines." Katie Walsh of Los Angeles Times praised the film saying that, "Leena Yadav's "Parched" is a bright jewel of a film, surprisingly funny, fresh and upbeat in the way it takes on the complicated and often dark topic of sexual politics in rural India." Alissa Wilkinson of Roger Ebert gave the film a rating of 3 out of 4 saying that, "Parched" is vibrantly alive, full of color and light and movement and music. There is sex in this movie, and there is dancing, and there are vibrant fabrics and foods and fire. It's a dry place, but one ringed with beauty." Justin Lowe of The Hollywood Reporter reviewed the film saying that Parched is "Well-intentioned, but wide of the mark." Sweta Kausal of Hindustan Times stated that the film is important because it tries to celebrate the long struggle against unjust system of forced patriarchy. Glenn Kenny from The New York Times mentioned that "the movie’s plain and unstinting affection for its lead characters gives Parched a frequently buoyant tone."
|Year||Name of Competition||Category||Result||Recipient(s)/Nominee(s)||Ref(s)|
|2016||10th Asia Pacific Screen Awards||Best Screenplay||Nominated||Leena Yadav
Despite critical acclaim, the film failed to have significant box office collections after its release in India. The film grossed ₹12.03 crore (US$1.79 million) worldwide, including ₹1.98 crore (US$294,663) in India and US$1.5 million (₹10.05 crore) in overseas markets. It was most successful in France, where it grossed $1,072,253, from 160,379 ticket sales, the fourth highest for an Indian film, after Salaam Bombay, The Lunchbox, and Jalsaghar. Parched also grossed €235,223 ($264,058) in Spain.
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