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SIR: A Simple Story About Complex Relationships in an Unequal Society


R E V I E W – M O V I E


Sanim Subah


Let me admit first, watching the trailer, I was a bit skeptical about watching the film. The premise of the film that the trailer showed made me a little uncomfortable. After all, “A rich architect falling for his housemaid” doesn’t seem that decent of a storyline in our social context. It is also the case that though I try to be equal in treating people, I can not yet claim to be completely free from the prevailing social class system. We, as a society, may have finally started to accept the idea of a friendly relationship between two people belonging to two different classes. However, the idea of a romance between them is still nowhere near acceptable. 

But a cinephile can’t just skip a cinema only for the fear of it making her uncomfortable, especially when she’s heard so much praise of it. So, keeping my prejudices aside, I finally sat to watch Rohena Gera’s Is love enough, Sir?

The film starts with Ratna, a poor widow coming back to Mumbai where she works as a housemaid for a young architect. But the status of her job doesn’t stop her from dreaming big. While working towards her dream of becoming a fashion designer within her limited capacity, Ratna starts forming a bond with her boss, Ashwin, a writer stuck in an architect’s life, whom she calls ‘Sir’. Despite leading two very different lives, they become a comfort zone for each other. 

Working on a storyline like this could be like walking through a minefield. There are so many things that could go wrong at several points, making the film an uncomfortable watch. But writer-director Rohena Gera ventured through this minefield carefully and created a beautiful story, all the while keeping it real. Through Ashwin and Ratna, Rohena gives us a sensitive humanistic perspective on how binding social norms can be. And the flawless acting of the protagonists breathed life into the story.

Vivek Gomber will make you fall for the kind, softhearted Ashwin. Ashwin’s attraction toward Ratna is not too explicit yet clear in every scene they share. The helpless desire in his voice when he says, “How much longer will you call me ‘Sir’?” made my heart ache. But not for one moment did he come across as lustful. His love for Ratna, as unconventional as it may be, felt as pure as the cool south breeze in a summer afternoon.  

There’s nothing new to be said about Tillotama Shome. She is one of the ‘real’ actors of Bollywood right now and she is criminally underrated. As Ratna, she is calm yet determined. Ratna reminds us that in this capitalist world, dreaming is still free. And what I liked most about her is that throughout the film, she stays real. She doesn’t lose her persona and dreams in her love. Though Ashwin is the master of the house, the power dynamic changes in their relationship. There, it’s Ratna making the decisions. Since Aswin belongs to a privileged class, it is easier for him to be open-minded about his feelings. But that is not true for Ratna. While Ashwin is ready to be completely immersed, Ratna gets practical with her feelings. She is the one asking the real questions, understanding the impossibility of their relationship in the real world while being respectful towards Ashwin’s feelings. 

The stark distance between their social classes was captured subtly and beautifully in every little scene. From the usage of different utensils for the same food to the difference in their rooms’ layout – every one of us maintains this distance in our daily life without thinking much of it. But while defining a relationship between two individuals, the littlest difference can turn out to be the most pronounced ones. Both Ratna and Ashwin understand that, and hence, they don’t plunge into any unreal fantasies.

This film doesn’t challenge the social class system directly, rather accepts it as a sad truth. With its intentionally understated tone, Is love enough, Sir? is like a sudden gush of fresh wind into a room that has been closed for centuries. A wind that may not sweep all the dirt away, but will clear the mustiness from the air. 

 


As a sleepyhead cinephile, Sanim has an old habit of falling asleep in between movie scenes. She claims to hate mass gatherings, yet loves to be crowded with huge piles of books.

 

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