‘Parched’ Resonating Around the World

By  | 

The reaction to “Parched,” an award-winning Indian drama that opened theatrically in Los Angeles, New York and the Bay Area and gets its DVD/VOD release Aug. 9 via Wolfe Video, has been “really amazing; very emotional,” said writer-director Leena Yadav.

Director Leena Yadav - Photo Courtesy of Wolfe Video

Director Leena Yadav – Photo Courtesy of Wolfe Video

While on her first trip from her home in Mumbai, India to Los Angeles for the film’s Southland premiere, Yadav said the universal response has been “a beautiful thing,” but also “concerning,” because so many people relate to it as their story.

“I have now traveled quite a lot with the film, from America to Canada, Sweden, Korea,” says Yadav. “I wouldn’t think this problem would [exist] all over the world.”

The “problem” of which she speaks is the suffering that people endure due to long-held, oppressive traditions. The result is that women have little power and no decision-making rights, putting them at the mercy of their husbands in arranged marriages.

Yadav modeled her characters after people she met in desert villages while researching for her film: Rani, a widow since her teens, dutifully raises her son, Gulab, according to century-old customs; Lajjo, a cheerful soul who is married to an abusive drunk, and Bijli, a sultry dancer/prostitute, who has more privileges than other women, but her future is becoming uncertain as she ages.

“This story is my reaction to a misogynistic society that treats women as objects of sex, where their greatest role is to serve men,” Yadav said. “It’s nothing else but conditioning, it’s what’s been taught to you as a child.”

As the well-traveled and educated daughter of a military officer, Yadav was not raised according to the stringent restrictions that rule her heroines.

“I was raised to judge and treat people as human beings above and beyond their gender, religion or caste,” she says. “And, I married for love.”

“There are other women like me,” she admits, but as the reception to her film has revealed, there are still many who have little say in their own lives.

“Parched” represents the people—both genders–who thirst for a different lot in life. It is beautifully shot by Oscar-winning cinematographer Russell Carpenter, with whom Yadav and her husband, also a producer on “Parched,” have worked in the past.

“For me, I look at these men equally victim as the women,” Yadav says.

But the film has an uplifting message, as the women grow in confidence through their bond. Their desire for love and laughter are universal; and even as they attempt to adhere to the village customs, they retain their will to thrive.

Yadav is herself an inspiration as an independent filmmaker. Although on occasion she’s been subjected to “prejudice against female” filmmakers, “I don’t focus on that,” she insists. “I just do what I have to do.”

“For me ‘Parched’ is not a social issue it’s about life, I’m a storyteller I tell all kinds of stories,” says Yadav. Is she optimistic about women making progress?

“We take three steps forward, two steps back, it’s crazy,” she says. “I want to be optimistic, which is why my film ends with optimistic tone. I want to believe there’s a better tomorrow.”


Journalist Laurie Schenden covers the entertainment industry, with many of her notable celebrity interviews appearing in the Los Angeles Times and other national and international publications. As a longtime columnist and feature writer for the LA Times, she also covered events and California destinations for the lifestyle, Outdoors and Travel sections. Laurie Schenden's international pieces include the long-running Where Are They Now celebrity feature for Spotlight Magazine, published in five languages. Laurie has also contributed to numerous documentary films, and produces content via Saving Grace Films.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login