Memory & Redemption: A Journey
Dr Ramandeep Mahal reviews 'Three of Us'
Some films are like a warm, comforting embrace on a chilly, wintry night, or they can be like a breath of fresh air on a long, stressful summer day. Three of Us is just that. It's a comforting tale that wraps you up, keeps you warm, and makes you feel fuzzy long after it ends. The story of Shailaja, flawlessly portrayed by Shefali Shah, who is rapidly losing her memory due to dementia, is a masterfully narrated plot. She has days when things go well and days when they don't. It’s a film directed by Avinash Arun and features a stellar cast of Shefali Shah, Jaideep Ahlawat and Swanand Kirkire. Well one fine day Shailja decides to return to her ‘Udgam’ or place of origin. She longs to return to her early years before everything passes her by (or you can say her memory diminishes slowly). She asks her husband—again, portrayed by the excellent actor Swanand Kirkira—to take her, and he happily consents. Shailaja returns to her village in Konkan and her early years come flooding back, both joyous and sad. She again experiences the same emotions. She also runs across her old friend and love Pradeep, who is brilliantly portrayed by Jaideep Ahlawat—no surprises here—who still remembers her and feels the same way about her as he did back in school. Swanand Kirkire doesn’t react much to the fact that his wife and her lover were once close.
This journey becomes a reckoning with her past, the monotony of her marriage and the intricacies of her future as she travels Konkan coastline with her husband and her childhood love. Actually, what sets this movie apart is its understated approach. There is no melodrama, no outburst of emotions, and no display of rage instead there is silence that speaks volumes. This film is tailored for a mature audience and draws one deep into its back story. Avinash Arun’s direction, storytelling and cinematography captures the beautiful landscapes of Konkan enhancing the film’s visual appeal while the soundtrack enriches the emotional depth. A standout scene in the movie is Shailja’s visit to Bharatnatyam School in her village. She joins the students and retreats quietly into a corner symbolizing life’s ebb and flow in a single episode. Shefali Shah, Jaideep Ahlawat and Swanand Kirkire deliver one of their finest performances and the gradual build up of their intensity is its most compelling aspect of this film.
Credit goes to the writers Avinash Arun, Omkar Achyut Barve, Arpita Chatterjee. Varun Grover and Shoaib Zulfi Nazeer are associated with this project as dialogue writers. Alokananda Dasgupta’s music, which features pieces that flawlessly capture the tone of the movie from times of meditation to the heights of emotional discovery, adds another dimension to this intricate picture. The craftsmanship of the narrative is so effective that it harks back to the kind of movies we wish were made more often. The dialogues are occasionally poetic and witty. The Nainghat: Ek Ghadi sequence in the film encapsulates this perfectly conveying a profound meaning through a simple song making it one of the most musical moments on the screen this year.
Three of Us is a fresh slice of life captured on celluloid. The characters are vivid in their ordinariness, they are people we would just pass by without a second thought. The film beautifully encapsulates the essence of a small town and prompts viewers to reflect on the fear of losing memories. What will be remembered after? People or the memories we share with them. As a result, the film leaves us with much more to contemplate. As Pradeep bids goodbye to Shailja by saying, “tum nahin yaad rakh paogi toh kya, main yaad rakh loonga!” (If you will not remember me, I shall remember you always!)
Three of Us is undeniably powerful and a film that would be remembered for a long time. Three of Us is an experience in itself. It is the story of a woman's struggle to find freedom and forgiveness—not only from others but also from her own self. This story serves as a reminder of cinema’s ability to move us to tears and make us introspect and ponder about life and its meaning. I would rate this movie eight out of ten based on Shefali Shah’s masterful dialogue delivery and nuanced expressions. Three of Us is ‘a must watch.’