Three of Us raises issues unconnected with its message!

Swanand Kirkire, Shefali Shah and Jaideep Ahlawat in Three of Us. Photo: Trailer Video Grab

In the absence of any new releases, I decided that I will catch up with some critically-acclaimed movies on TV that I missed out in 2023 (like Dhak Dhak, Kadak Singh and Mast Mein Rehne Ka, all of which I have already reviewed) because they did not sustain in theatres for more than a few days, I chose to watch Three of Us. This film is directed by Avinash Arun Dhaware, a man acclaimed as much for his Marathi directorial, Killa, as for the diametrically-opposite web series, Pataal Lok.

It is thus regrettable to say that, when I watched Three of Us, it emerged as an issue-based film, not in the sense of dementia, which forms the pivot of the film, but in more cardinal issues related to filmmaking!

First, I firmly reiterate what peak-time Subhash Ghai had told me, “Ideas don’t make films. Scripts do.” Three of Us has an idea that is extremely interesting in the way it plays out—but for a short film rather than a feature (this one’s almost 2 hours long) or for a short story. It is definitely, decidedly not material for a feature film, and that too, a theatrical release.

And I say this not because it has no stars. Shefali Shah and Jaideep Ahlawat are powerhouse performers who have carried web series on their shoulders, so to speak, and given sterling performances even in big-screen and OTT movies. This year has seen OMG2 do well even with someone like Pankaj Tripathi rather than a big name as protagonist. No film works only because of big names in the cast—period!

But to imagine and think that such a film will actually work (even on OTT) is perhaps the height of cinematic immaturity. Not all commercial filmmakers believe in a three-part kind of story that has beginning-crisis-resolution as a narrative base, but generally offbeat or middle-of-the-road makers usually do subscribe to this supposed axiom. And this film has no crisis and thus cannot have a resolution! It’s just a slice-of-life story that meanders without a goal.

A woman with incipient dementia, of which she is aware, wants to visit Vengurla, the town in which she schooled and met her first love and also saw her sister die in an accident. I am amazed that the film also does not take up this baseline and layer it with dramatic or/and emotional highs, so that the viewer can be emotionally involved in how the lady, Shailaja (Shefali Shah) earnestly wishes to revisit her past before her memory withers.

She gets loyal support from her husband, Dipankar (Swanand Kirkire) and even after he realizes that Pradeep Kamat (Jaideep Ahlawat), whom they meet in Vengurla, has been his wife’s sweetheart over 25 years ago, he indulges her and the three of them (Three of Us, see?) have some heartwarming exchanges and experiences.

But while Pradeep and his relationship in the past with his wife is a new revelation for Dipankar, Pradeep’s wife, Sarika (Kadambari Kadam) has been well-aware of her husband’s ex-flame. Both couples have children, who remain essentially on the fringes of the main storytelling.

Many a potential dramatic or unexpected situation peters out in a lifelike manner and ennui set in for me about an hour into the 99-minute saga that simply does not go anywhere.

For the writer-director, my question would be: How did he manage to convince producers or financiers to back him? To the latter—What made them invest in such a project that had no scope for returns and waste resources? To the artistes—What saw them willing to sink into (fairly) meaty roles for a subject that had no future or expected patronage from their fans and other cineastes? It couldn’t have been just money, for even remuneration must not have been on par with their normally commanded fees?

Shefali Shah expectedly packs in a titanic performance yet again as the confused, yet eager woman who is shown to have some surprising shades. Jaideep Ahlawat is fantastic as Pradeep, and is actually at his best in his sequences with his understanding wife even more than in his scenes with Shailaja.

Kadambari Kadam is understated but brilliant as Pradeep’s wife in her abbreviated role. Swanand Kirkire is note-perfect as the man who loves his wife, understands her attitude and wish and yet is in doubt about whether she has ever been happy with him. The rest of the cast is fleetingly there and has nothing really to score.

Avinash Arun Dhaware, the director, co-writer and also cinematographer (which he was basically) needlessly makes the camerawork’s tone dull and darkish, adding to the viewer’s restiveness. If this film’s message was that one should be optimistic even in face of adversity (which I suspect is the message!), some cheerful camerawork within realistic parameters would have really helped matters.

The background score is another ear-sore. Not only is it dull and tedious but also predictable. The sole song in the film is also classical-based yet relentlessly monotonous.

Are four great performances enough to salvage a film? Or to justify watching a movie? To quote a big name who shall remain anonymous: “I am always suspicious of films whose reviews say that someone’s performance, or the dialogues, or the cinematography, were brilliant! The whole film should work.”


Allu Entertainment & Matchbox Pictures present Three of Us  Produced by: Sanjay Routray, Sarita Patil, Dikssha Jyote Routray & Bunny Vas Directed by: Avinash Arun Dhaware Written by: Avinash Arun Dhaware, Omkar Achyut Barve, Arpita Chatterjee, Varun Grover & Shoaib Zulfi Nazeer  Music: Alokananda Dasgupta  Starring: Shefali Shah,Jaideep Ahlawat, Swanand Kirkire, Kadambari Kadam, Payal Jadhav, Neena Kulkarni, Usha Naik, Shruja Prabhudesai, Sharvari Lohokare, Umesh Jagtap, Rasika Agashe, Suhita Thatte & others.







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