Over the last few days I’ve watched a few commendable movies that have left me with some lingering thoughts. At this point, two of them come to my mind. One is the Tapsee Pannu starrer “Tappad” and the other is the Varun Dhawan and Banita Sandhu starrer “October” directed by Shoojit Sircar. These movies are not the usual run-of-the-mill Bollywood flicks but are sensitive ones with good contents and they ponder upon subjects that matter; at least that’s how I feel. They are movies that tell unique stories and have unusual plot twists unlike a lot that are on the mainstream cinema scenario.
As of this moment, I felt I should talk a little bit more about one movie in particular. It is a movie called “Is Love Enough? Sir” (also called “Sir”). The movie is a debut feature by writer-director Rohena Gera and stars Tillotama Shome and Vivek Gomber as the main characters. The movie talks about a beautiful but seemingly impossible love story that revolves around a rich cosmopolitan man and his housemaid.
The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2018. The trailer of this movie became a big hit, and after this, the film went on to become one of the most anticipated Indian films. It got released in many European countries and had received many international accolades. In India, the film was supposed to be released in March 2020, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it got delayed and finally got released in theatres in mid November 2020.
For a while, I’ve been anticipating to watch this movie and was on the lookoutout. As soon as it got released I searched for it on many online platforms but was not able to find it. Finally, I got to watch it the other night on a site link shared by a young friend of mine as per my request. My overall verdict about the movie is that all my expectations (that I’d built up) have been met with and it, indeed, is a beautiful movie. Therefore, I felt I shouldn’t delay on sharing my thoughts about the movie.
The film tells the story of the widowed Ratna who works as a domestic help, brilliantly portrayed by Tillotama Shome, and the well-to-do, upper-class employer Ashwin played by the suave and sophisticated Vivek Gomber. He just got back from the US after a called-off engagement and also is to help out his father in his construction company. He was doing reasonably well in New York trying to find his way as a writer. She is assigned the task of taking care of his household while the family is still hopeful of his reconciliation with his fiancée.
Ratna got married off very early to avoid payment of dowry but her husband died just after four months of marriage. She tries to earn a respectable living by working as a domestic help. With the earnings, she supports her younger sister’s education and has aspirations of her own of becoming a fashion designer some day.
Ratna’s duties include waiting on Ashwin and looking after the household. She also apprentices with a local tailor in her free time (after seeking permission from Ashwin). That way she could learn tailoring.
A special connection or bond starts to develop between the two as the two shared the house, the employer in his spacious apartment space and the servant in her small crammed room (servant is the word that is repeatedly used in the dialogues referring to Ratna). As the days pass, love starts to blossom between the two. The kind-hearted, generous Ashwin begins to trust the efficient and dignified Ratna. Ashwin is very clear about his stand and doesn’t hesitate in expressing his feelings for Ratna. He does not harbour any qualms about the whole affair and is ready to take the plunge. He is not so much bothered about the unusual relationship that they share.
On the other hand, Ratna exercises caution and maintains a stoic demeanour. She remains adamant on wanting to put an end to the whole thing even if she has the same feelings for Ashwin. She doesn’t want herself to be reduced to a mere mockery in front of her peers and society. She wants her dignity intact as she’s to continue living within her own class. She decides to go away leaving the job, the house, and the devastated Ashwin.
Where does it go from here? How does this supposedly impossible situation proceed from here on? That, the viewer has to find out, if in case one decides to watch the movie. There lies the twist to the tale, whatever the possibilities — a brief affair or a secret fling, the usual likelihood in this setting, or a lifetime of happiness and togetherness in case they decide to pursue their journey together.
Tillotama Shome as Ratna is simply amazing in her acting. She has a mesmerising screen presence throughout and plays her part with excellent finesse. Vivek Gomber as the generous and compassionate Ashwin is also perfect in every sense and is a delight to watch.
The pace of the movie may seem slow to some but everything is shown in subtleties and there are no overt expressions to display the emotions that are building up between the two. It’s like reading between the lines. It indicates a coming together of two incomplete beings to make a whole.
From another perspective, this story makes us reflect upon the prejudices that we harbour for people who do not belong to our class. The presence of societal hierarchy is a grim reality and to bridge this class divide is an almost unfathomable act. What the movie has in store is to be found out. “Sir” is one that’s worth a watch according to me. It’s like a breath of fresh air.