Saturday, October 1, 2016

Parched-Taking Feminism a step further

Bollywood with it's unrealistic, sugary stories and spotlessly beautiful people as though they have come straight out of fairy tales, had very little to offer viewers like me, rabid feminists to be precise :) This is perhaps one of the very few instances when I am watching a second Bollywood movie in the same week. And, both movies were worth my money. 
Parched unlike Pink is set in the rural hinterland of india, trying to tell the stories of three women who do not have the agency to break rules, shackled by violent alcoholic husbands and a society that looks down upon its women. Still, a wave of rebellion strikes and is fuelled by the eons of oppression they have suffered. 

Rani (Tannishtha Chatterjee) has been a widow for many years whose husband was a merciless abusive alcoholic. She has an old mother-in-law to take care of and a troublemaker of a son Gulab (Riddhi Sen) who she wants to marry off. Lajjo (Radhika Apte) is childless, turned down by her village as a barren woman and married to a violent drunkard. The women of the village have begun earning money by utilizing their handicraft skills which has instigated anxiety and fear in the men of the village.
Bijli (Surveen Chawla) is outspoken and the brightest of them all, a dancer and sex worker in an entertainment company who is the most daring of the three. As they befriend each other and get together away from atrocious agents of patriarchy and social scrutiny, they chart a road to self-discovery discussing about their sexual needs and desires, hopes and dreams.
There is a hint of sarcastic humour in the midst of bleak circumstances that drive the lives of these women, and often you wonder as to how can they forget the horrors of their personal life and effortlessly crack jokes. Perhaps, this never-say-never attitude is what drives most of the women stuck in bad abusive relationships or injured by dreadful circumstances.
The drawback of the film is the exotic cinematography that has captured the warmth of the deserts in bright colours and raw beauty of the sensuous village belle, that will attract the imagination of the film festival fan. I missed the rustic real portrayal of the village women like it was in Dor or Rudali.
The movie aims to throw light on the problems that rural Indian women face like child marriage, male entitlement, marital rape, but gets lost in its inability to narrate it effectively and the weak direction and story telling. 
I couldn't understand the objective behind wrapping up the movie hurriedly against the backdrop of the village Dusshera fair, as though trying to give us a message about good and evil and the winner amongst the two.
Why was Adil Hussain credited as the mystic lover and the movie rushed to reach its climax. This just didn't make sense to me.
Although the movie was solely made with the purpose of educating a viewer about the misogyny that exists in the Indian villages and the quiet sussuration with which women accept it, the characters couldn't meld into the narrative of the movie, making it a purported gender narrative and a not-so-real life tale.
Still, I am exhilarated that I could see a movie on gender issues that touched a raw nerve even if in periodic episodes.
This dialogue hit me the hardest, and most women whether educated or uneducated will identify with it
"Choriyaan zyada padh likh legi to lagan kaun karega?"

Watch the trailer and decide for yourself

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