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Is Love Enough? Sir: A Terrific Take on An Edgy, Sensitive Premise

'Sir' is a brilliant take on a complicated and edgy premise

Source: SIFY

By: Shrikanth Venkatesh

Critic's Rating: 3/5

Tuesday 12 January 2021

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Movie Title

Is Love Enough? Sir: A Terrific Take on An Edgy, Sensitive Premise

Director

Rohena Gera

Star Cast

Tillotama Shome, Vivek Gomber

‘Is Love Enough, Sir’ or just ‘Sir’, as the film is commonly referred to, had a festival release at Cannes almost two years ago. It has since had a slew of theatrical runs in different countries, including India, winning acclaim and accolades. Finally, it has now landed on Netflix giving a larger public audience the chance to view it.

It is an interesting exercise categorizing 'Sir' into a specific genre. You could force arguments for it being a social drama as much as for it being a ‘love story’. The film is set against the backdrop of Mumbai. The protagonist is Ratna (Tillotama Shome), a live-in maidservant at an affluent apartment. She is employed by Ashwin, who used to live there with his girlfriend, and now lives alone. Ashwin is an architect whose engagement has just crumbled.

A big chunk of the initial portions is dedicated to a character study of Ratna and Ashwin. We become a part of their circadian daily routines and as we progress, learn more about each of them. We learn that Ratna is a widow who lost her husband just four months into her marriage. Thanks to outdated customs still prevalent in the rural parts she hails from, she finds herself ostracized there for all practical purposes.

Ashwin is a man of few words. We could assume this is partially also because of the heartbreak he’s just been through. His family have faced their share of tragedy themselves when Ashwin lost his brother to a terminal illness. This is what, in fact, forced Ashwin to move back home to Mumbai from New York where he used to live a different life as a writer and an aspiring author.

Ratna aspires for a different life herself. She has a flair for tailoring, correction, designing and hopes to be a fashion designer someday. Perhaps it is at this point that Ratna and Ashwin appreciate how their lives have more in common than they realize. Both have faced marital heartbreak, both have tragically lost a loved one, both have aspirations for careers in a different field of work and both landed up in Mumbai only owing to circumstances. And this realization is probably what sows the first seeds of romance between them.

Keeping with its dense tone, this film of course doesn’t have a brash romantic sequence per se and there are only fleeting moments. There is perhaps no bigger stigma in our parts than an employer falling in love with his maid-servant and 'Sir' does a brilliant job of addressing this discomfort and tension.

It is Ashwin who propagates for a committed relationship more forcefully than Ratna, it would seem. It is fairly obvious they care for each other- Ratna gives Ashwin a timely pep -talk about life in an earlier scene and Ashwin sponsors Ratna’s fashion pursuits with great personal interest. They always seem to have each other’s backs. A committed, romantic relationship within these dynamics though would seem far-fetched to even someone with the most liberal of thoughts. So understandably, Ratna is discomfited. And you could argue rightly so. Ratna and Ashwin begin to be ridiculed often by people close to them. This sits fine with a New York bred Ashwin, who says it ‘doesn’t matter’. But it means everything for Ratna.

'Sir' is a brilliant take on a complicated and edgy premise and is handled with great sensitivity. There are no judgements passed. We are shown things unfolding as they do. We see two different worlds take shape very clearly within the same city, or even for that matter the same household. Ratna and Ashwin represent the microcosms of these worlds, one where the lower class are often disrespected and ill-treated and another where aristocratic wealth doesn’t always guarantee happiness. Tillotama Shome and Vivek Gomber are in fine form throughout, bringing complicated characters to life with confident, authentic performances.

There is an air of suspense as the final stretch plays out. The real question you imagine, to put it bluntly, is whether our society is ready or broadminded enough to embrace Ashwin and Ratna as a couple. Taking cues from this film, probably not. Even architects, it would seem, cannot really build castles in the air.

Shrikanth is a Chartered Accountant, who keenly follows and writes about cinema when he is not crunching numbers or balancing ledgers! You can find more of his work at Non Linear Plot

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