Three of Us: Ending Explained (In Detail)

Why did Shailaja want to return to Vengurla? What happened when she met her old friend Pradeep Kamat?
Three of Us: Ending Explained (In Detail)

Avinash Arun started out framing and lighting shots on short films before calling the shots on a Marathi feature titled Killa in 2014. He proceeded to lens films like Masaan (Neeraj Ghaywan, 2015), Drishyam (Nishikant Kamat, 2015), and Karwaan (Akarsh Khurana, 2018) before returning to the helm with Paatal Lok, followed by a segment of the 2020 anthology Unpaused, the boarding school drama School of Lies, and then Three of Us, his second full-length feature.

The film features Shefali Shah as the protagonist with Jaideep Ahlawat and Swanand Kirkire playing pivotal supporting roles.

Return to the Past

Shailaja (Shah) and Dipankar (Kirkire) appear to be a regular middle-class couple living in the hustle-bustle of Mumbai, the kind of people who leave for work early and catch up on the day over a plate of poha and cups of tea in the evening. Very quickly it is established that Shailaja needs aids to function, such as a list on which she has meticulously written down what needs to be bought. But everybody needs a shopping list, don’t they? It is when the couple sit down for their evening catch-up that Dhaware lets us in on Shailaja’s early onset dementia diagnosis: The poha needs salt, and it is in that minor detail that the film reveals the protagonist’s difficulties in her day-to-day life, which is why she feels the need to note things down as she goes along. She realises that from here on, life is only going to get more and more challenging.

Out of the blue, Shailaja reveals a desire to visit Vengurla, a coastal town on the Konkan coast. Dipankar is taken aback, for in their life together, she has never mentioned this place which is five hundred kilometres to the south of Mumbai. “I studied there from classes 5 through 8,” she tells him. It’s an inkling of what the film as a whole is about, and in that one moment, Arun suggests that even people who have spent most of their lives together don’t always know everything about their partner. Dipankar gets over his surprise quickly and agrees, taking a week off work to go along on this impromptu trip.

A Childhood Sweetheart

Shailaja’s first port of call in Vengurla is her old school, which is closed for a few days. She then begins to stroll around, recounting rather easily her youth in the town when her regular life has been impacted by the illness that claws at her. A stroll down a lane leads to an encounter with a childhood friend – Gauri (Sharvari Lohokare). Suddenly Shailaja is a young girl again, giggling when she learns that Gauri married their childhood classmate. It is through Gauri that she learns the whereabouts of a man she had first asked the peon about. Pradeep Kamat (Ahlawat) now works in the local bank, has been in the job for over a decade, and is only too happy to meet up with Shailaja.

Sitting in a restaurant, something hangs between the two friends, and Dipankar and Pradeep end up doing most of the talking till Shailaja feels enough at ease to speak to a man who was once, quite obviously, her childhood sweetheart. 

The three of them, along with Gauri, go down to the school, where they spend a while in the friends’ old classroom. As they reflect on the days gone by, Dipankar realises that his wife and Pradeep were not merely friends. It is not information that visibly irks him, but he feels little pinches, such as the fact that Pradeep knows so much about how Shailaja likes things; he can’t help but take a jibe at the other man when there finally appears to be something he knows.

On the other hand, Pradeep’s wife Sarika (Kadambari Kadam) deems it important for him to spend time with Shailaja, to go with her and Dipankar to their childhood haunts and to her old home, where Shailaja’s sister Venu died in a tragic accident. 

While Dipankar doesn’t express anger at any point, he does appear to resent Shailaja’s inability to remember their time together when she has such great recollections of her childhood. She reminds him that quite often people don’t remember the wonderful ordinary days of their life, and that they are all doomed to forget things as the end beckons.


On their final day in Vengurla, the trio go to the local fair with Pradeep’s daughter. It is here that Dipankar reveals to Pradeep what Shailaja’s condition is, and how it impacts her on a progressive basis — from forgetting the names and faces of others to sometimes looking at her own reflection to gauge familiarity. Dipankar guesses that her fading memory of her childhood is what brought Shailaja to Vengurla: She feared forgetting Venu, her friends, her school and Pradeep. That fear drove her to make a sudden decision in an otherwise financially curated middle-class existence where every major expense needs to be planned and accounted for.

As Three of Us nears its end, Shailaja and Pradeep ride the Ferris wheel together, reminiscing about the fair and what it was like when they were young. Pradeep tells her that when they last came together with all their friends, someone teased her about receiving flowers from him, and Shailaja was so embarrassed that she refused to ride the wheel with him. They never spoke again. The accident that killed her sister occurred soon after, and Shailaja left Vengurla for good, leaving their ride incomplete — only to come back nearly three decades later and finish it, creating a new memory for herself and for Pradeep, and patching up the hurt he could still recall.

The film ends without any of the usual fanfare of a miracle being around the corner: Arun reminds the viewer that Shailaja’s memory will continue to fade and fail, and that Dipankar and Pradeep must each seek their own paths to happiness with her in whichever way they can. 

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