Dementia, often portrayed in media as a tragic descent into forgetfulness, seldom captures its nuanced beginnings. "Three of Us" skillfully portrays Shailaja Patankar's journey, allowing us to witness the delicate dance between her past and present. As Shailaja grapples with fading memories, the film unfolds as an exploration of identity, a pilgrimage to reclaim the individual obscured by the roles of mother, wife, and daughter. Within the narrative, dementia emerges as an unexpected liberator, granting Shailaja the freedom to break away from the societal constraints that defined her as a mother, wife, and daughter. Shefali Shah masterfully portrays the complexity of this phase, a poignant struggle to preserve intellectual agency in the face of an encroaching unknown. Her smiles, though mere imitations of familiarity, convey a profound effort to grasp fleeting moments of connection.
'Three of Us' distinguishes itself in the cinematic landscape by refusing to be engulfed in the vast ocean of dementia's narrative clichés. Its brilliance lies not only in the portrayal of Shailaja Patankar's individual journey through the intricate corridors of memory loss but also in its profound exploration of the reactions, struggles, and resilience exhibited by those around her.
What truly elevates this film to greatness is its unparalleled sensitivity and nuance in handling the complexities of dementia, and yet not hyperfocusing on it. In a genre often predisposed to dwell solely on the tragedy of forgetfulness, 'Three of Us' transcends expectations, presenting a mosaic of emotions with a rare depth of understanding. The film becomes a masterful depiction of the fragility and resilience of the human spirit, and compassion that extends far beyond the limitations of memory.
As a viewer (who also happens to be a Neuropsychologist), my deepest admiration for 'Three of Us' stems from its ability to navigate the labyrinth of dementia without losing sight of the individual at its core. It refrains from reducing Shailaja's journey to a mere struggle against memory loss, instead, it paints a vivid portrait of her unique essence. Each character's response in the film is a symphony of humanity, adding nuanced layers to the narrative and reminding us of the interconnected threads that bind us all.
In a cinematic era saturated with conventional narratives, 'Three of Us' emerges as a beacon of storytelling brilliance, not just for its exploration of fading memories but for its celebration of the enduring strength within the human spirit. The film becomes an exquisite ode to the resilience that defines our shared humanity, proving that even within the complexities of dementia, the human story continues to unfold with grace and profundity.
About The Author
Tanvi Mallya (Msc Neuropsychology) is a Neuropsychologist and the Founder of Tanvi Mallya’s ElderCare Services , which provides at-home mental health care to older adults. They specialize in (but are not limited to) disorders like Alzheimer's, dementia, strokes, Parkinson's, etc.
TMECS works extensively with caregivers and families of older adults and organises training and sensitization workshops for companies and corporates. Tanvi is also a visiting faculty member at the postgraduate department of Psychology at St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai as well as a member of the National Mental Health Counsel, WICCI.
You can follow her here.