Thursday, January 4, 2024

"Three of Us" is a subtle drama

As we live longer it seems there are more dramas involving dementia.  "Three of us" demonstrates a subtle breakdown in the early stages.  The story begins with a middle aged woman, Shailaja who has recently learned she has an early onset form of dementia.  We are shown a few instances of forgetfulness while still displaying some intelligence.  She resigned from her job at Family Court, Divorce Division.  She requests her husband, Dipankar to return to a town she spent a few years for her schooling.  Her husband concerned for her safety and with support from their son decides to go with her.  She presses as she feels it is urgent or she might forget.  Once there she is drawn to a name, Pradip and asks about his availability.

 The three refers to Shailaja, Dipankar and Pradip  The wife of Pradip, Sarika is also involved in a supporting role.  Dipankar is more concerned about his wife's mental health than being jealous.  Pradip at first is not aware of her dementia and is confused as he had put her out of his mind for many years.  Sarika doesn't feel threatened at all and encourages him to meet Shalaja and all four get together a few times.  The two men get along very well and eventually Dipankar explains Shailaja's gradually building dementia.

We learn that Shailaja has memory problems and cannot remember too much of her relationship with Pradip, but it was meaningful.  Towards the end we realize she broke their relationship, but she doesn't remember that, but feels guilty.  At the end we feel the four all get along, but Shailaja is well aware of her deterioration.  

The feeling left with this viewer is relief of the relationships, but sadness that one of them is in declining mental health.  It is like a tragedy, but with the satisfaction she is being treated well and gets some satisfaction out of life.  If we live long enough we all will know more people with dementia and unfortunately some of us will succumb.  The people close to the victim will feel the pain as much or even more.  Others may react differently, but most of us will be a little more sensitive to dementia.

This emotional and intellectual feeling took some deft handling.  Here are some of the people who made it a memorable film.

Avinash Arun was director, a key writer and cinematographer.   Before really rolling with his film career he did videos for weddings and birthday parties.  He has 24 credits as a cinematographer including "Drishyam" (2015), "Masaan" (2016), "Madaari" (2016) and "Hichki" (2018).  He has 4 director credits including the Marathi production of "Killa" (2014) that he was also the cinematographer.  Directors are mostly concerned with the actors, but a perspective on the visuals adds value to the film.            

Arpita Chatterjee was another writer.  A former journalist she has 6 credits as a scriptwriter including    "Bheja Fry"(2007).

Sarita Patil, was one of the producers.  She has over 25 film credits including  "The Dirty Picture"(2011), "Drishyam" (2015),  "Lucknow Central" (2017), "Thambi" (2019), "She"(2020) and "Monica, O My Darling" (2022)

Alokananda Dasgupta provided the music.  She received a music degree from York University, Toronto, Ontario.  She has 32 composing credits including "B.A. Pass" (2012), "Trapped" (2016), "Sacred Games" (2018-2019) and Ajeeb Daastaans" (2021).

Sanyukta Kaza did the editing  Her 44  credits include"Ship of Theseus" (2012) and "Trapped" (2016).

Shefali Shah plays Shailaja, the woman with early onset dementia.  She started her career on the Gujarati stage.  She speaks Gujarati, Hindi, English,Tulu and Marathi.  She is noted for being selective and has won many awards in a variety of roles.  She is a critics' favorite.  She has 39 film credits including "Satya" (1998),"Monsoon Wedding" (2001), "Gandhi, My Father" (2007), "Mohabbatein" (2009),"Karthik Callilng Karthik" (2010), "Dil Dhadakne Do" (2015), "Once Again" (2018), "Delhi Crime" (2019), "Human" (2022) and "Doctor G" (2022).  She also wrote and directed two short films on the subject of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Jaideep Ahlawat  played Pradip, the long ago boyfriend.  He has 32 film credits including "Gangs of Wasseypur" (2012), "Raees" (2017), "Raazi" (2018)"Ajeeb Daastaan" (2021), "Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar" (2021) and "Jaane Jaan" (2023).  Check

Swanand Kirkire played Dipankar, the husband.  A lot of film career involves music where he has 69 credits including "3 Idiots" (2009), "Barfi" (2012) and "Kai Po Che" (2013). awards for both lyrics and playback.  He has also got 35 credits for acting including "Chameli" (2003), "Badrinath Ki Dulhania" (2017) and "Qala" (2022).  Furthermore he has 10 writer credits.   See

Kadambari Kadam plays Sarika, an understanding wife.  Her background is in the Marathi theater.  She has 16 film credits.  She is married to Avinish Arun.

Mental illness is not funny and this film reflects the seriousness of dementia, something most people fear.  Available on Netflix with subtitles.

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