‘Three Of Us’ Ending Explained & Film Summary: What Was The Purpose Of Shailaja’s Visit To Vangurla?


Three of Us is a poignant, poetic exploration of fading memories, starring Shefali Shah as the protagonist, Shailaja Desai, Swanand Kirkire as Shailaja’s husband, Dipankar, and Jaideep Ahlawat as her childhood lover, Pradeep Kamat. Avinash Arun takes us on a journey with Shailaja, away from the fast-paced, chaotic landscape of Mumbai to the tranquil and peaceful Konkan coastline. After years of wanting to travel back to the small town she had grown up in, Shailaja decides to act on her wish after her retirement. As a working woman, she struggled to find time for herself, and it was only after she was diagnosed with dementia that she realized how important it was to take care of her memories.

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Plot Summary: What Is The Film About?

Shailaja struggled with conducting her day-to-day activities. She maintained a small diary and checked her to-do list. She always seemed to be lost in thought and struggled to cope with her routine. We can assume that she decided to quit her job due to her absent-mindedness. Shailaja worked at the divorce division, and over the years, she watched several couples enter the room, wanting to separate. Shailaja believed she had very little role to play in the decision the couple took because, most of the time, they were confident about the outcome. She believed people made their minds up about their relationships way before they filed for divorce. The time taken in between is for them to familiarize themselves with the permanence of separation.

Shailaja was married to Dipankar, a man who sold policies for a living. Their son was enrolled at a prestigious college to study engineering, though Shailaja had always appreciated art over everything else. All of a sudden, one night, Shailaja declared she wanted to travel to Vengurla. After being married for so long, Dipankar was a little surprised to find out that Shailaja had never mentioned Vengurla before. He was unaware of her connection to the place, and he wondered the reason behind her sudden desire to revisit it. Shailaja experienced an immense desire to travel to the small town, and there was no particular reason behind it. Dipankar took a week off to accompany her on her journey to refresh her memories of a life she had left behind a long time ago. Shailaja had a smile on her face from the moment the journey to Vengurla began. There was a shift in her temperament, and it was evident that, after a long time, she finally looked forward to something in life.

What was the connection between Pradeep And Shailaja?

Soon after arriving at Vengurla, Shailaja was reunited with her school friend, Gauri. Even though Shailaja struggled to grasp her present at times, she remembered her childhood days. She recognized her classmates from an old, faded photograph and showed a particular interest in meeting Pradeep Kamat. She and Dipankar went to the bank, where Pradeep worked. Dipankar’s uneasiness was palpable at that moment, but he chose to support Shailaja even though he could not completely grasp what he was witnessing. Pradeep was pleasantly surprised to see his childhood sweetheart after twenty-seven years. Initially, it was only Pradeep and Dipankar who spoke, but gradually, Shailaja started to make conversation. It was evident that Pradeep was an integral part of her memories of Vengurla. She requested that he not address her formally and proposed that they visit their school together. Pradeep agreed, and Gauri tagged along.

The classroom seemed smaller than it was before, but the scribbles made on the tables were a reminder that it was the same classroom where they had spent hours together. It became obvious to Dipankar that the relationship between Shailaja and Pradeep used to be more than friendship, but he never stopped Shailaja from rediscovering her old town with Pradeep. Maybe he sympathized with her, or perhaps he too wanted to discover the teenage Shailaja that his wife was desperate to find. The journey was all about Shailaja reconnecting with her past self, or at least an attempt at it. Over the years, she had given up on her little joys, and gradually, she was no longer the person she used to be. She wanted to be her carefree self again; she wanted to be as close to the memories of those days as she could.

There was no hatred or anger between Pradeep and Dipankar; most of the time, the two stared at Shailaja with admiration. Pradeep had a family of his own, and his wife, Sarika, had heard stories involving Shailaja before. When Pradeep mentioned that she had returned to Vengurla, there was not an ounce of jealousy. Sarika found the entire situation endearing, and she advised her husband to accompany Shailaja. Their relationship spoke of love, understanding, and admiration for one another. Dipankar had been supportive of his wife, but he could not hide his discomfort upon seeing her hold Pradeep’s hand while walking down the stairs. He wondered if he had failed as a husband, and Shailaja was surprised by his sudden shift in temperament. She agreed that their relationship was no longer the way it used to be, and the number of days they had been sad together surpassed their memories of the good days. Even though they briefly walked away from each other, Dipankar and Shailaja eventually went back to their room together.

What was the purpose of Shailaja’s visit to Vengurla?

Eventually, in Three of Us, we find out that Shailaja lost her sister, Venu, in Vengurla when she was young. She remembered her sister challenging her to a game of tug, and as usual, she was on the losing end. Venu made fun of her and firmly grabbed hold of the rope. The mortifying image of her sister falling into the well in the garden was still fresh in her memories. Her heart sank each time she revisited the traumatizing event in her head. She remembered the rope slipping through her fingers and her sister suddenly vanishing away. Maybe it was her sister’s memory that brought Shailaja back to her childhood home. She was afraid of Venu disappearing from her memories, and the trip was a final homage to her. The woman who spoke in verses acted as a mediator and helped Shailaja finally address the baggage she had been carrying all her life.

Shailaja and Dipankar went to a local fair with Pradeep and his daughter on their final day in Vengurla. Dipankar held no grudge against Pradeep; the two continued to share a cordial relationship, and he invited Pradeep to his house in Dadar. The love and admiration that both men had for Shilaja had no room for envy. One was her present, while the other was her past. And both, in one way or another, helped Shailaja become the person she was. 

During Three of Us‘ ending, Pradeep found out that Shailaja was suffering from dementia. He could sense that there was a reason behind Shailaja’s sudden visit, and he, in a way, felt grateful that she returned to refresh her childhood memories. As they enjoyed the Ferris wheel ride, Shailaja mentioned not remembering the last time she visited the Vengurla fair. Pradeep recalled that the entire friend group had been to the fair. Shailaja’s friend, Deepika, mentioned Pradeep buying flowers for Shailaja, and she was embarrassed by it. She argued that the flowers were for everyone, and she refused to talk to Pradeep after the incident. They did not ride the Ferris wheel together last time. Pradeep was heartbroken when he found out that Shailaja and her family had left town. Their last day together could have been memorable, but even Shailaja did not know then that she would be leaving. Shailaja and Pradeep’s friendship remained incomplete, and he assumed that she had forgotten him. After twenty-seven years, when she returned, Pradeep experienced sudden joy. He was happy knowing that his childhood lover remembered him and cared enough to return, albeit after a long time. Perhaps from the moment Shailaja left Vengurla, she was determined to return soon and reunite with Pradeep, but the drudgery of life made it impossible for her. It was her sickness that made her realize how precious time was and how important it was to make memories that she had been wanting to make for a long time.

The relationship between Pradeep and Sarika is worth taking notes on. Instead of possession, they focused on individual happiness, knowing that it would positively impact the life they had built together. Pradeep showed his appreciation by spending hours every night stitching a stole for his wife. Sarika had once complained to Pradeep for not writing poems for her, and the painstaking embroidery work suggested that not every relationship can be described in words; maybe a fragment of it can be expressed through labor.

After making fresh memories in Vengurla, it was time for Shailaja and Dipankar to leave. Shailaja had accepted that Pradeep would soon become a blurry image to her; she had also started to make peace with the idea that one day she would wake up not remembering who she was, but the thought of not remembering her son terrified her. She was afraid of not recognizing her family members, and Dipankar had no comforting answer for her. It was a reality that Shailaja had to accept, and most importantly, it was a frightening truth that Dipankar and his son, Bharat, had to live with. Their lives will not get any easier, but at least Dipankar will have the memories of a happy Shailaja in her childhood home to live by.

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Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni has worked as a film researcher on a government-sponsored project and is currently employed as a film studies teacher at a private institute. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies. Film History and feminist reading of cinema are her areas of interest.

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