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Film

The ladies fight back

Watch four women take on the patriarchy in rural India in "Parched", a heartfelt depiction of female friendship.

Filmed on location in the dust-swept deserts of Rajasthan, Parched is a powerful portrait of four women – mother and widow Rani (Chatterjee), childless Lajjo (Apte), dancer and prostitute Bijli (Chawla) and Rani’s new daughter-in-law Janaki (Khan) – taking on patriarchy in rural India. Set against the (male) village elders, drunk abusive husbands and a new generation of angry young men, Leena Yadav’s fi lm puts female emancipation firmly in the hands of women as, through the character of Rani, the endless cycle of loveless marriages and conjugal rape is called into question. It’s brash in its schemata of abuse and exploitation, and sometimes clumsy in its broad-stroke storytelling. Nevertheless, Parched packs a punch with its superb performances, moments of intimacy and life-affirming league of ladies defying convention.