Cast: Adil Hussain,Maya Tideman,Roshni Achreja,Raghav Chanana
Director: Unni Vijayan
The Indian Express rating: ***1/2
The grief of a parent when a child meets with an accident is deep and on-going. That is the strongest thread in Lessons In Forgetting (winner of the National award for the Best English film,and out in limited release),and that is what keeps it,and us,going when the story-telling bobs a little confusedly in the past and present.
JA Krishnamurthy (Hussain) finds that his daughter Smrithi (Tideman) has been rendered comatose on the beach in a tiny Tamil Nadu village. He brings her home and tends to her grievous wounds as a ventilator breathes for her,but his desperate need to find out how it happened leads him into a labyrinth. On his journey,he meets Meera (Achreja) who is wrestling with a dead marriage and a younger self-obsessed suitor (Chanana) and a complicated home life,and both,as they go down parallel paths before joining the threads,find kinship and solace.
A great sense of place works in favour of the film. The village on the coast where the accident happens hides a terrible secret. Girls are aborted in the womb,and maternal deaths are given up to the ocean. Smrithi stumbles upon one such funeral and ends up having to pay: she is brutalized by a gang of drunken louts,and left for dead.
Lessons In Forgetting is based on a book of the same name by Anita Nair. The fine Hussain leads an able cast,which proves that an Indian film in English doesnt have to sound like an extended elocution class: the villagers speak in home-grown Tamil,not in accented English. Tideman plays her part well,too: she is vital and bright and what is done to her shocks and saddens us. Lessons In Forgetting is based on a book of the same name by Anita Nair is a cautionary tale,but holds out a hint of optimism: girls are not always for the killing.