A Look at Anita Nair’s Lessons in Forgetting
Sometimes we turn every possible stone to discover the truth. But what does one do if the truth is so terrifying that it compels him to try everything possible to forget it? Lessons in Forgetting is a poignant piece of storytelling by Anita Nair. It is a compelling tale of a single father on a quest to discover the truth behind his daughter’s gruesome and near fatal accident.
Lessons in Forgetting is the story of Meera, a devoted wife, a mother and a career woman, whose husband abandons her and leaves her to fend for her family by herself. It is also the story of a coming together of people who find hope and a silver lining around dark clouds. It, however, is not a story of revenge or contemplation, but of forgiving and forgetting.
Most book readers are often wary about film adaptations on screen. More often than not the characters and the screenplay do not meet the expectations of the writer’s imagination. But Anita Nair has written Lessons in Forgetting for a film adaptation, or so it seems. The movie adaptation by Unni Vijayan won the Best English Language Film award at the 60th National Film Awards. The screen adaptation of the novel can quite easily be summed up in one word – brilliant! Of course it did help that Anita Nair herself wrote the screenplay.
It is a compelling tale of a single father on a quest to discover the truth behind his daughter’s gruesome and near fatal accident. It is the story of a coming together of people who find hope and a silver lining around dark clouds. It, however, is not a story of revenge or contemplation, but of forgiving and forgetting.
Even as the movie touches upon some serious social concerns like male gaze, female infanticide and gender bias, it never once turns preachy. Even as the movie touches upon some serious social concerns like male gaze, female infanticide and gender bias, it never once turns preachy.Vijayan seems to have addressed all aspects of filmmaking expertly – everything from casting to cinematography flows seamlessly. One of the better things about having a book translated into a movie is probably the music. There is no background music to words being read from a book, but when the same story is captured on a moving screen there’s much more on offer – colors, sounds and even the locations.
Ganesh Kumaresh’s music is the heart of the film. The soulful lyrics and haunting music stays with you long after the movie has ended. Another notable thing about this movie is that it never once loses its tempo. Non-commercial cinema often takes the blame of being slow and boring, but not Lessons in Forgetting. Although this is director Unni Vijayan’s debut indie film, he has done a wonderful job of meshing the plot and the characters together to provide a seamless viewing pleasure that keeps the audience interested. The film has a stand out sand-art animation in the opening sequence impressing the audience from the very beginning. It is often said that if you haven’t read the book, chances are you may not follow the film. This is not the case with Lessons in Forgetting. It is detailed enough for the viewers to follow through the plot.
As far as casting goes, Adil Hussain who plays JAK gets a solid A+. He has beautifully captured the essence of a traumatized father coming to terms with his daughter’s actual identity. Roshni Acharya as Meera was a good choice, albeit in some parts of the movie she seemed somewhat vague and disconnected. Her character was never fully fleshed out and her story was simply lost in the background somewhere. Smriti is a complex personality with many shades. Maya Tideman’s portrayal is acceptable but not entirely convincing, and somehow does not resonate with the image that Anita Nair’s book readers may have in their minds.
I personally thought some of the supporting casts were a bit weak and impassive. All said and done, the story impresses and remains gripping though out. Lessons in Forgetting is worth a watch – not because it provides brilliant solutions to some social problem, but because it is a good movie that anyone with a good taste will appreciate.