Parched movie review: Radhika Apte and Surveen Chawla starrer is a chick flick from the rurals!

If you’re into chick flick, especially Sex and the City, here’s a nice treat for you ladies! It is quite a wave of fresh air to see so many women centric films come in a span of nine months. And all of them have managed to work tremendously not just at the box office but even attain a big thumb’s up from the critics. Radhika Apte, Surveen Chawla, Tannishta Chatterjee and Lehar Khan starrer Parched also takes us back to seeing what happens when four women chill together. Now before I speak further, I’d like to wipe out the misinterpretation caused by the promos of Parched and state that no, not a woman empowerment film! Bewildered? I was too when I watched the film. Here’s a film that focuses not on how a woman is troubled by the old school norms of the society but also how her sexuality is affected because of the same. The film is of sexual awakening, more than women empowerment and good that the director, Leena Yadav has turned our attention to something so different yet so basic!

What’s it about
The film revolves around the lives of four woman, well, mainly three. So yeah, Lajjo (Radhika Apte), Rani (Tannishta Chatterjee) and Surveen Chawla (Bijli) are three BFFs. The backstory of these three women is that Lajjo works for a garment manufacturer along with her widow friend Rani. Bijli on the other hand, works as a dancer cum sex worker. The perils they face range from the way the men in their lives treat them to how they haven’t experienced sex in the most pleasing form. Rani has been a widow for 15 years and is trying to get her only son married to a village belle. Lajjo is constantly fighting with herself to hold a smile despite facing abuses from her husband for being barren. Bijli, is at the peak of her career as a dancer and sex worker but then faces competition as her boss brings in a young girl. Now how they break free from this as they experience new realms of sexual nuances, is what the film unravels into.

What’s hot
I gotta admit, after Shabd and Teen Patti, Leena Yadav has improved tremendously in terms of direction. A lot of frames and how the story has been weaved together is commendable. It’s not something you’d see in a conventional Hindi cinema. So you’ll probably enjoy the fact that the film is way different from what’s usually expected of a Hindi film. I think this is the second sexual awakening film I’ve seen since Margarita With A Straw. While the film did a little goof up with the way it was promoted (focussing on the Down Syndrome part), the intent was different.

Similarly even Parched speaks volumes of sexual awakening as you will pin point in the film when you watch it. That again makes it an intriguing watch. What I really liked was the rural feel of the film. Not exactly mentioning the name of the village, Yadav has basically made a good point that can happen anywhere. Of course, when it comes to acting, all the ladies did a phenomenal job. Tannishta as the widow who once again faces with her lost sexuality is very convincing. You can see how parched she has been without the touch of a man in her life. Radhika‘s Lajjo character was oh so adorable! She was a sweetheart! Wasn’t a big fan of Surveen‘s character but we’ll get there later. Finally, the intimate scenes have been shot  very aesthetically and with a realistic approach. (Also read: Radhika Apte confesses about her casting couch experience on camera – watch video!)

What’s not
Firstly, this could slightly also hit hard at the marketing team for they have been promoting the film in a totally wrong direction. The trailer is also quite misleading as when I looked forward to watch the film, I was hoping for some women empowerment and yes, some hard hitting storyline. Instead all I got was am Indian version of Sex And The City! Okay, perhaps we could call it Sex And The Village since that’s how it is. After the film was over, there was no sense of elation as the hopes and expectations I had were for something completely different. Bad job there!

The film falls in the niche cinema genre so I doubt many would opt for it on a weekend. They might consider it with all the hype but very few might actually understand the depth of what the real message of the film is. I’m still a little perplexed about Surveen’s character, to be honest. She’s shown as a sex worker cum dancer. She likes the attention and is not afraid of her boss breathing down her nose. But wait, the boss has other plans. He brings in competition and makes her insecure because of a younger model (who becomes everybody’s fancy instantly!) Chawla’s character then sort of goes way beyond her inhibitions to prove she’s still to shiz. But for what joy? I didn’t find any depth in her character and I wasn’t really happy with her acting. Even her accent was so confused, just like her character. (Also read: “I’m not interested”, says Radhika Apte when quizzed about her leaked sex scene from Parched – watch video)

What to do
While this one is clearly a Sex And The Village that many girls might enjoy, it’s not gonna leave you with a feeling of elation as it’s more like a chick flick for the rural audience. You might like it but it won’t make you go ‘woah’! After watching Pink and having high hopes for some more of hard hitting women centric films, I was very disappointed. One time watch would be enough for this film.

Rating: 3 out of 53 Star Rating

Reviewed by Aarti Iyengar

* Poor

** Average

*** Good

**** Very good

***** Excellent