Amidst this heated debate that India needs “Veere Di Wedding” because there hasn’t been a women-centric movie on female friendship, I found myself face-to-face with Leena Yadav’s “Parched”.
“Parched” appealed to me in a way most movies don’t. Yes, Leena Yadav and team teared me up and I am happy. I’m two years too late but I’m happy.
The acting prowess of Tannishtha Chatterjee, Radhika Apte, Surveen Chawla and Lehar Khan along with Ridhhi Sen is the definite icing on the cake. Not to mention, the brilliant direction by Leena Yadav and the cinematography by internationally acclaimed artistes make the movie a visual delight while music by Hitesh Sonik takes my breath away.
Now, I am sure you all have read a lot of reviews on this internationally acclaimed movie, two years ago. So why am I talking about it now? Because I need to calm myself down after a very very heated argument with an internet bully (better known as a ‘troll’). And how do I do that? I turn on music and I write.
While some of you may already know the story, I still will refrain from getting into it because someone who hasn’t watched the movie needs to watch it. I will talk about what made me so happy about the movie. So, as I hum to the soulful ‘Mai Ri Mai’ from the movie, here goes.
“Parched” is a story of three women in a small desert village in Rajasthan. One is a widow, another a childless woman bearing the tag of ‘barren’, and another a dancer and a sex worker. These three women are friends. You could call two of them childhood friends because they, stuck in different areas of life, met when they were 14 or 15 years old. Another woman is younger than them, but she too knows them since she was 14 or 15.
These women are friends, above everything else, standing by each other for as long as their reality permits it and then, beyond. They talk about men, dwell on the reality of their lives, engage in heart-to-hearts on the work they do, explore their own sexuality and talk about sex with no inhibitions, they scream out their own version of Hindi cuss-words, and they dream together. Through the ups and downs of life, they never fail to laugh out loud. And I laughed with them. When they wept, I wept with them.
For a moment they picked up another unlikely friend, the 15-year-old bride of the widow’s son, ultimately freeing her from the shackles of her fate before they themselves broke free of it. Yes, “Parched” has a happy fairy-tale ending. It gives that sliver of hope we all are looking for in movies we watch. We want to feel good and “Parched” has us feeling good. Leena Yadav, amidst other things, explores the true depth of female friendships in this movie with three (and for a moment, four) very real characters.
So, then why did “Veere Di Wedding” gloriously wear the crown of being the first Indian movie on female friendship? The women of “Parched” explored sexuality through a vibrating flip phone long before Swara’s onscreen character explores it through a vibrator. So, again, why did “Veere Di Wedding” become the first movie to have explored sexuality through masturbation?
You’ll throw me the excuse that “Veere Di Wedding” is a ‘mainstream’ Indian film, but before you do that, I will tell you that “Parched” comes from Ajay Devgn’s production house. ‘Mainstream’ enough? I think so. I’ll tell you why there never was enough hype around “Parched” though, and why it failed miserably at the box-office.
There were no designer labels, no product placements and no general ‘glam-sham’ in the movie. There were no over-hyped promotions and marketing. And the trailer only highlights the central idea behind the movie – fighting misogyny and women empowering themselves. It was in the news repeatedly because it received a number of accolades but that isn’t enough, is it? Who in their right mind wants to watch a movie about village women, right?
Yes, female friendship is the sub-text of the movie you failed to watch fearing it would be too ‘morbid’ for your taste. So, why not treat yourself to “Parched” this weekend? And as for a comedy movie or an ‘entertainment’ movie that explores female friendship instead of making a mockery of it, India is yet to find one worth remembering.