Lessons In Forgetting

Lessons in Forgetting
Release date: April 19, 2013
Directed by: Unni Vijayan
Cast: Adil Hussain, Roshni Achreja, Maya Tideman, Raaghav Chanana, Amey Wagh, Karan Nair, Anuja Vaidya, Veena Sajnani, Lakshmi Krishnamurthy, Uttara Baokar, Srilekha

Based on Anita Nair’s book of the same name, Lessons in Forgetting has the author herself to handle the story, screenplay and dialogues; thereby guaranteeing the actual flavor of the book to be retained. The film presents the issues pertaining to female foeticide and the general disdain and contempt for a woman’s integrity in India, small towns and metros alike.

The film fluctuates between a misty flashback, the present and the retelling of past incidences by the participants. The apparently three distinct approaches are structurally connected to each other. The first is J.A. Krishnamurthy/JAK’s (played by Adil Hussain) journey to find out what happened to his daughter. On his way he’s accompanied by Meera (Roshni Achreja) who’s faced a separation from her husband. She’s assisting him with his research work as she’s got a family to support by herself now.

The second is that of a college street play group enacting a musical on the illegal sex determination and dangerous abortions on the south coast of India. The subsequent entry of Smriti (Maya Tideman) as a young, and outgoing student with a modern outlook. Shivu (Amey Wagh) and Matthew (Karan Nair) are smitten by her, only to discover that she’s interested in Rishi (Raaghav Chanana)

The recurring memory flashes of JAK’s moments with his daughter on the beach form the misty flashback. All of these finely intertwine as the narrative progresses. Few mannerisms of the ensemble cast seem out of place but that’s compensated by the naturally fitting arguments between Meera’s mother (Veena Sajnani) and grandmother (Lakshmi Krishnamurthy) and Chinnataayi’s son being a loudmouth.

The screenplay and direction exhibit their strengths by being outright blunt and subtle where it’s required. A particular scene where a protagonist unearths a murky conspiracy, the buildup is more effective than the actual discovery. I am not revealing the entire situation, but it’s the one with placenta hanging outside a bin. And intentionally paradoxical is the the scene where Chinnataayi (Srilekha) recalls what she saw happening on a beach in Minjikapuram – bound to make you feel uneasy however tough you are.

The pathos of the film is perfectly captured in its climax where brutality and redemption are manifested with grace. The individual performances are impressive and offer a constantly forward moving pace to the story. Also, the camera stays with the characters so as to provide more of an insight or even to weather the storm that’s called “abrupt cut”. Instead of making the usual awkward cuts, the makers decide to embrace a much sophisticated style of letting the characters exit the frame completely or conclusively.

Lessons in Forgetting delivers an important message and in an emphatic way. It’s a deserving National Award winner and it deserves your attention.

My rating: **** (4 out of 5 stars)

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