Film: “Lessons In Forgetting”; Cast: Adil Hussain, Amey Wagh, Bhanu Prakash, Veena Sajnani, Uttara Baokar, Roshni Achreja, Maya Tideman, Raaghav Chanana, Karan Nair, Anuja Vaidya, Lakshmi Krishnamurthy, Parthiv Shah, Sukitha Aiyar; Director: Unni Vijayan; Rating: *** – stirs the hornet’s nest.
“Never run away from things that terrify you,” was a lesson that J.A. Krishnamurthy had instilled in his daughter Smriti when she was young, and he probably regrets doing so, for the results could be terrifying. A reality one should wake up to.
Released under the PVR Director’s Rare banner and winner of the National Award for best feature film in English, “Lessons In Forgetting” is a tale of redemption, forgiveness and second chances. It is an adaptation of Anita Nair’s eponymous book. It’s a story of a single father’s attempt to find a closure to his daughter’s comatose condition.
The film begins in a very non-descript fashion, trailing the lives of two characters based in Bangalore – J.A. Krishnamurthy (Adil Hussain), also known as JAK, and Meera (Roshni Achreja).
JAK is obstinately following a trail of clues trying to find out what happened to his once vivacious teenage daughter Smriti (Maya Tideman), a drama student who was following her heart at Minijikapuram, a small coastal town in Tamil Nadu. She is only 19, and now lays wasted on bed at home.
Meera, on the other hand, has her own challenges. One fine day at a party, her husband just disappears leaving her to battle with their two growing children, her mother and grandmother.
Fate brings them together as friends and Meera help JAK in his endeavour.
What begins as a complicated voyeuristic relationship-based film by the second half, settles on subjects worth pondering about. The film touches issues like female foeticide, gender-biased sex selection and male gaze, that are usually brushed under the carpet.
Every actor seems to have put their heart and soul into their roles, making the end result emotional, gripping and disturbing. It’s only in a few stray instances that you feel the performance is staged, but that does not take you away from the connect of the story.
The lyrics of the only song that is oft repeated in the film glues the narration to perfection. The music given to it by Kumaresh Ganesh elevates the experience. For a low budget film, the production and cinematography quality is good. The sound, handled by Gissy, is noteworthy too.
With no frills attached, editor-turned-director Unni Vijayan handles the novel deftly. He surely stirs the “metaphysics of a cyclone” that is sweeping the nation with his debut feature film.
He maneuvers the narration and his cast with the adroitness of an expert. The way he has handled the climax and every other finer nuance of the film, is worth a watch. If nothing else, see the film for the gruesome reality it portrays.