Rohena Gera’s “Sir (also named Is Love Enough? Sir)” is a film that is set inside the confinements of the humongous skyscrapers in Mumbai. Ratna (Tillotama Shome) is a widowed maid who has just been unexpectedly summoned from her break back at her village by her rich employer Ashwin (Vivek Gomber). Their daily routine starts back again, but Ratna’s hopefulness and Ashwin’s lack off brings things closer into perspective. A stilted kind of romance starts boiling between the two which thankfully doesn’t feel distorted because of Gera’s sensitive direction and a feeling of mutual appreciation.
Documentary filmmaker Rohena Gera’s aesthetics look unlike anything Bollywood produces. In her feature debut, she has chosen to work around only two characters – Their dreams, disappointments, emotions, motifs and a confined space which really dwells on how they grow within this house they inhabit.
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The film’s first act is a quiet, retrospect of what Ashwin’s life has become after he has left his marriage since his to-be partner cheated on him. Desolated, depressed and frustrated at his one shot to free himself from loneliness and pursue his life-long dream of being a writer in the US is now gone. By personality, he is a nice guy – Simple, straight-forward and occasionally lost. He wouldn’t take anyone’s shit let alone being considered as a third handle even if it was for a split second. When he gets back to Mumbai, his life is in a fix. He is back to working with his dad losing all his hope with every passing second.
On the flip side, Ratna – Who is a widow, has accustomed herself to the city life that is more liberating for her than being at home in her village. Her village life had numerous restrictions on herm – Especially when she became a widow and was almost neglected for being one. The societal norms only brought her spirits down. But somehow, she made the big leap by leaving the village life to work for a rich woman in Mumbai. Ratna is not hopeless anymore. Being in a big city means two things for her. One – Making sure that her sister studies and carve her way out of the societal mess and Two – Trying to find a way to make her dream of becoming a fashion designer come true.
The two people at the center of “Sir” are on either side of the spectrum. While Ashwin has lost all hopes of getting out of a suppressed self-imposed ditch where he has isolated himself, Ratna – Who can just be pinned down to being a domestic-help to the rich lad, has big ambitions. Both of them are ideal to let each other grow. Which is what Sir is all about. It’s about the restricted love that slowly starts brimming between the two when they are trying to mend each other’ life in a very selfless manner.
Rohena Gera’s film is masterful in its subtle investigation of how love has boundaries even when we are dealing with stories set in modern-day India. The director has a keen eye for how class differences don’t just decide how people love; but also how they act. For instance, when Ratna is working in the house or is around Ashwin, she is usually quiet, calm and composed. With only her little room in the corner serving as a getaway. Even in a single scene where she is seen using Ashwin’s room to check the dress she has just stitched, a follow-up scene shows her apologizing again and again. The same woman is seen cheerful and more convincing when she is around her friend Laxmi (Geetanjali Kulkarni).
“Is Love Enough? Sir” is a film that’s about the romance that blooms in the air in spite of the restriction that is imposed on it. Ashwin and Ratna don’t share more than a few seconds in the same frame. So much so that Ratna is often seen trying to rush out of the room to get to her work; but even a naysayer could see how Gera beautifully orchestrates a romance that is cooking underneath. Tilotama Shome shines as Ratna who is so sure of every step and every action that she flawlessly glides blends into the role of a maid. Sir is a film that is charming even when it talks about how hopes are lost when one doesn’t really get what they want. But it’s optimistic tone and humanistic core that tells people to be themselves makes for a glorious watch. Even with two characters, the film often glides into your hearts and remains there.