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Memories And Lots More
Mar 09, 2024 08:35 PM 116 Views

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There are certain films which are outstanding and accolade worthy. There are certain films which are great entertainers. There are certain films which are unforgettable classics. And then there are certain films which just soak into your soul so deep that they wordlessly become you. Three Of Us is one such movie.


Shailja Desai(Shefali Shah) is diagonosed with dementia in her middle age. She decides to leave her job. Her husband, Dipankar(Swanand Kirkire) is an insurance agent. Their son is studying in IIT away from home. One evening, Shailja requests her husband to take leave from office and go for a short trip to a small town in the Konkan region where she had spent a few years of her childhood. Though surprised and not knowing about this part of his wife's past, Dipankar agrees to undertake the journey with her.


The film revolves round Shailja's stay in this laidback town for a few days where she had spent the most memorable as well as traumatic years of her life. This is also the town where her childhood love(they were in the same school/class), Pradeep Kamat(Jaideep Ahlawat) lives and works as a Bank Manager. Pradeep is surprised to meet Shailja who visits him in the bank. They are meeting after twenty odd years. Thereon the narrative revolves round the three of them(Shailja, Pradeep and Dipankar) - the places Pradeep and Shailja frequented as mates, the house Shailja lived, the sea shores where a sea witch was rumoured to be, the temple where they went for worship.


The town has not changed much. The towners lead simple lives. Pradeep is one of them - not very ambitous, peacefully married, his wife being his best friend, with two growing children. But it is Shailja's come back which rekindles the poet in him. At the same time he embroiders a beautiful wrap for his wife which they humorously call'bribe' for letting Pradeep spend time with Shailja.


On the other hand, Shailja relives every moment of her childhood in each place of the sleepy town she visits. Her eyes lit up. Her husband has never seen her so happy before. At the same time, Shailja has to confront the ghosts of her past. She has to seek forgiveness and come to terms with herself and her past.


Dipankar, is a simple man. He accompanies his wife because he feels it is his duty. But he can also figure out the difference that Pradeep's presence brings in Shailja. How she comes alive with him. How happy she is with him around. How they understand and appreciate each other. Yet they are just childhood friends Their adolescent friendship may have flourished into something more intimate had Shailja's family not suddenly moved away from the town after an accidental death in family.


Dementia is a subject close to my heart. My mother is a profound dementia patient. It is not curable, preventable or curbable. We don't know when mother developed the symptoms. It became pronounced only after her post cancer surgery. That was in her eighties.


In Shailja's case it is in mid life. She is traumatized when she is not able to recognise people known to her. She knows her memory is short lived. Yet she wants to free herself of her demons. She wants to savour every remembrance of the most significant part of her life. She wants to enjoy her tactile association with the littlest object with each passing moment. The sultry spray of the sea, the school desk on which love sign is carved, the lush groves where she used to spend time with Pradeep, the merry go round in the fair where Pradeep comes to know of Shailja's mental state, each sharing some part of their past with the other which they did not know earlier. It's a simple, innocent but at the same time very personal reunion. But there are moments when one can feel the spark that Pradeep still ignites in Shailja, especially, the frame where Pradeep is driving the car with Shailja sitting next to him and Dipankar at the back seat - the'other one'.


It's sweet and very understanding of Pradeep's wife to accept Shailja because she is not just his wife but also a friend. It is natural for Dipankar to resent Shailja and Pradeep's chemistry and togetherness. But the narrative does not thrive on the envy or pathos of a love triangle.


Rather the story is about creating memories and holding on to them as long as possible. The script does not dwell on Shailja's plight or patheticness. But it very subtly emphasizes the fright, emptiness and meaninglessness of a person's life without the ability to remember. It jolts the viewer up with the sudden awareness that life is nothing but a kaleidoscope of remembrances which make us joyful as well as remorseful, sometimes guilty and sometimes immensely forgiving.


The shot where Shailja shyly confesses to Pradeep that the next time they meet she may not be able to recognise him is just matter of fact. But what makes the scene unforgettable is Pradeep's reply, "Never mind! I will remember." There is no promise of a future. When Dipankar invites Pradeep and his family to come over to their place in Mumbai, Pradeep is uncertain whether he will ever keep that invitation. His uncertainty itself is the hopelessness of the situation itself which does not hold any promise of a tomorrow.


But Three Of Us is not a sad tearjerker of a love story. It's just vignettes of life caught in the lens of the mind. It let's the viewers hope of a better tomorrow, one of those magical possibilities that life is made up of but it also reminds that miracles are the rarest of rare happenings. One can pray for but can never be sure of one. Three Of Us is an experience of experiencing life with all its flaws, vacuums, absences and also its serendipities, unexpectedness, anticipations and moving on with all its calamities and calming revelations.


Much has been written about the successes and failures of the film. I will not weigh the narration's cinematic value. Words fall short of lauding Shefali Shah's tremendous performance. She is not Shailja. She becomes Shailja. Her every moment's realization that every moment of her life is ephemeral, transient and a step towards irreversible forgetfulness can only be seen to be believed. Her indescribable fear of not recognising people apparently known to her cannot be portrayed in more scarier manner than her startled silence which is evocatively more verbose than a pitiful and reluctant confession.


Jaideep Ahlawat is again a surprise! After the clumsy sociopath and mathematical genius of Jaane Jaan, he is startlingly understated as Pradeep Kamat. However, Swanand Kirkire as the husband who increasingly realizes his'unsuitability' to a woman who has more depth and an unshared'past' indubitably does justice to the character.


Three Of Us is an Aravind Allu presentation. The film is directed by Avinash Arun. He is also the cinematographer. His stunning narration through the eye of the camera upscales the work of art that this award winning and critically evaluated film is.


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