Three ordinary rural Indian women discover their extraordinary courage.
By B. Root
Leena Yadav’s new award-winning film Parched follows three rural Indian women in the village of Ujhaas as they break free from centuries-old traditions that have kept them in servitude.
Rani (Tannishtha Chatterjee) was married at a young age, but became a widow a few years later when her husband died in an accident. Her purpose since then has been to raise their only child, Gulab (Riddhi Sen). Rani is devout in following the ancient Indian customs and traditions, and she buries her own needs to do what is right by her son and her village. But then things begin to change for her when she forces Gulab to marry against his wishes.
Lajjo (Radhika Apte), Rani’s closest friend, is a young woman full of enthusiasm and positivity—even though Lajjo’s husband, infuriated by her infertility, takes out his anger through domestic violence. Despite the abuse and the possibility of social banishment, Lajjo is still hopeful and determined to get pregnant, since it is something she deeply wants.
Bijli (Surveen Chaula) is a dancer and sex worker who is employed at a local dance company. Though the village women hate her, Rani has been her best friend for years—and through Rani, she and Lajjo are friends as well. Bijli is a beautiful and confident older woman who knows that her youthful days are coming to an end, which could leave her unemployed. Bijli is a voice of liberation for the women, since she is the only one in the trio who has seen a world outside of their village.
In this evocative and vibrant drama, these three women unapologetically talk about men, sex, and life as they struggle under oppressive traditions. Together they begin to question this society that favors men, sends teenage girls to marry violent husbands, and shames women for being educated and opinionated. Finally, on a fateful night leading up to the Dussehra festival, the women come together to take a bold step that will alter the trajectory of their lives.
“This story is my reaction to a misogynistic society that treats women as objects of sex, where their greatest role is to serve men,” says writer, director, and producer Yadav. “Giving my women characters a voice that observes, absorbs, and reacts was what drove me to write this drama about ordinary women who are driven to extraordinary ends.”
Beautifully shot by Academy Award-winning cinematographer Russell Carpenter (Titanic), Parched transforms these women’s struggles into an inspiring portrayal of liberation.
Parched is now available on DVD and VOD through Wolfe Video (wolfevideo.com).
B. Root is a frequent contributor to OutSmart magazine.