Revisiting Classics: 3 Deewarein - A slow poison that grows on you

The film has the right promise - A stellar cast viz. Juhi Chawla, Jackie Shroff, Naseeruddin Shah, Gulshan Grover, and Nagesh Kukunoor (who also wrote and directed this film) - and a great premise - a suspense thriller. But when my friend kept on persisting that I watch this film, I wasn't ready. So, I read about the director. This man got me all excited. Nagesh Kukunoor is one of those directors whose films don't do necessarily well in the box office but are always acclaimed by the critics. Now I was all set to watch the film.

Don't worry, no spoilers. Yet, I would talk about the plot. The film is about three murder convicts who are sentenced to death. A filmmaker (Juhi Chawla) wants to understand the psyche and life of death convicts and comes to interview these convicts. One is a lawyer (Jackie Shroff) convicted of stabbing his wife to death, another is an accountant (Nagesh Kukunoor) convicted of pushing his wife under a speeding vehicle and the last one is a thief (Naseeruddin Shah) convicted of killing a woman while robbing a bank. The filmmaker, while interviewing, comes across some insightful and shocking revelations made by the convicts. The climax has the big reveal of how the stories of each of these convicts are connected.

Let's talk about the characters. The lawyer, the accountant, and the filmmaker have a strained relationship with their respective spouses. This is brought out beautifully in the dialogues. Interestingly, each of the convicts seems to open up to the filmmaker more than they do with each other. However, the thief still tries to remain elusive. Each of the characters represents one of the different feelings that a convict whose end is near feels. For instance, the lawyer feels constant remorse and regrets his deed mainly because he loves his wife - despite him knowing the fact that she was cheating on him. The accountant is hopelessly optimistic about him getting out of the jail alive - Satyamev Jayate (Truth alone triumphs) being his breath. Then we have the robber. He comes across as the eclectic and eccentric dissenter whose only aim is to get out of the jail by hook or crook.

The character of the filmmaker is also no less interesting. She is conservative, yet disregards and despises the way patriarchy and chauvinism suppress her. She holds her feelings to herself, letting them out only in the safe space of her solitude. She is vulnerable, yet has an air of mystery around her. She is the one who raises most of the questions. Why is a woman interested in the convicts? Why does she not just divorce her husband? Why does she want to help one of the convicts escape? These questions are answered at the end of the movie.

Coming to the screenplay, it is one of the tightest screenplays I have ever watched in films. The end is definitely a typical Indian ending appeasing the Indian audience. Nevertheless, it has its high points sprinkled all throughout.

The cinematography by Ajayan Vincent is just mindblowing. The sets of the jail, the colours in each frame, one can feel the emotions as felt by the characters. One important aspect of the film is that it very nicely portrayed life inside a jail - an important variance from the generally stereotyped visual of jails and cells.

The film speaks about multiple issues. Starting from strained marital relationships, infidelity, conscience, optimism to revenge, luck and destiny. There is always a moral grey area that each character balances or tries to balance. This either leads the character to end up on the "right" or "wrong" side of the line, owing to circumstances.

One striking feature of the film is that though, the protagonists are all male, the story moves forward because of the female character. In fact, it is fascinating how the reason each one of the convicts is facing a death row because of a woman. I will not say anymore on this aspect as it would spoil the film experience. Go and figure it out yourself!

In a nutshell, 3 Deewarein is a gritty, suspense thriller, that would have you at the edge of the seat and yet leave you with a lot of questions as you finish watching it. This film is available on Netflix.

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