Set in a desert village in India, Parched portrays the lives of women who exhibit carefree enthusiasm for life despite living in repression. Replete with candid dialogue about sex, prostitution, and patriarchy, the scenic film is insightful and fun to watch.
Why did you decide on the title?
I first titled the film Parched because of the landscape. But as the story developed, the title took on many more meanings like “Thirst” — for freedom, for sexuality, for touch, for expression. And the title just became so relevant to many themes that the film was trying to explore that it got irreplaceable!
What was the inspiration for this film?
The film was born from a conversation I had with actress Tannishtha Chaterjee. She shared with me many conversations that she had with women in villages of Kutch, Gujarat. I realized that the women were very candid in their conversations about life and sex. So my first idea was, “Let’s make ‘Sex and the village”! Then, I travelled to Kutch and spent time in the villages meeting lots of women. It involved about two months of research and some enlightening conversations. The story took on some serious undertones and became what it is. The process of research continued even as I was scouting for a village to shoot the film.
Why is it important to tell this story about misogyny and repression in a desert village in India?
I discovered ‘Parched’ in the parched landscapes of Gujarat. But when I came back to Mumbai, I had to acknowledge that the same stories existed in my back yard! And when I sent out the first draft of my script to friends all over the world, they shared more stories with me! And that’s when I realised that the stories of Parched have a universal resonance. And then a friend of mine actually pointed out that, “Not only are the stories universal….but they almost feel eternal!” I just knew that these stories need to be told! And I am grateful for the endorsement I have received from Canada, US and Europe audiences who have expressed that these stories exist in all their societies! So, lets start a dialogue and discuss the various forms of conditioning that we all have been subjected to across the world. Lets find a ‘Solution’ together! ‘Parched’ is not a film about gender politics….. It is about Humanity! Or the loss of it!
This film depicts a strong sense of hopefulness. Do you believe that to be true for the future of women in these villages?
The strong sense of hopefulness is what I wish for women, not just in these villages but also in cities all over the world. Hope is essential for survival and therefore for a better tomorrow.
How has the film been received?
The film got a very long standing ovation at TIFF at the world premiere. There on each screening has been a revelation and endorsement of how universal this story is. I have attended amazing Q & As after every screening in Toronto, Stockholm and now at the Palm Springs International Film festival. I am excited to see the film release all over the world and hopefully create a dialogue for change.