The past decade has seen a renaissance in movies. Not so long ago, movies were expected to have a 3-hour run time, a grand plot, songs, fight sequences and comedy. But of late, they have devolved into a much more nuanced portrayal of life, steeped in reality. I am specifically talking about those rare gems, where plot-wise nothing much happens, the pace is slow, but the characters and their interchange crafted so well, that the impact is profound. To this hall of fame, graced by the likes of “The Lunchbox”, I now propose to add “Sir”.

‘Sir’, directed by Rohena Gera, is a simple slow-burn story about the unlikely camaraderie between Ashwin, a middle-aged bachelor whose wedding was recently called off and his widowed maid, Ratna. Ratna hails from a village, where she was unceremoniously married off, simply because the groom didn’t expect dowry. Shortly after, she is left widowed at a young age. She comes to Mumbai, to earn a meagre wage and find some meaning in life. Her employer, Ashwin, whom she deferentially addresses as ‘Sir’ belongs to the relatively uncommon group of respectful employers. Between her meticulous care for him and his sympathy for her plight an unlikely relationship brews.

The story deals with several complex themes. First, there is casteism and classism that is so subtle yet prevalent even in a city like Mumbai. The maid uses different utensils, never eats in front of her employers, rises when they enter the room and her existence is to be hidden from the eyes of the privileged. Second, there is patriarchy in abundance. Poor Ratna only wears bangles when away from the sight of her kin. She is not even allowed to see her sister on her wedding day, because widows bring bad luck. Then there is the social taboo. Society has very clear rules about who we should love and how much. One’s maid is certainly not on that list, no matter how understanding she may be.

But on the bright side, these conservative ideals are juxtaposed with those of modern Ashwin. He sees Ratna as an equal, worthy of love and strongly disapproves of the treatment she is given, some of it self-imposed. Another wonderful detail is how domestic staff stick together and look out for each other. Perhaps there is hope after all. Despite all these heavy undertones, the film is incredibly light and feel-good. The everyday hustle-bustle of a household, set in high rise Mumbai, is beautiful. Ratna, charmingly portrayed by Tilotama Shome, is not only effective but also thoughtful. Ashwin is a relatable guy, troubled by a broken engagement and a career dilemma. Vivek Gomber’s portrayal of him was perhaps a little underwhelming. But overall the protagonists share genuine chemistry and leave us wanting more. Geetanjali Kulkarni as Ratna’s confidante Laxmi Tai does well.

Overall, this genuine, sweet slice-of-life story makes for the perfect weekend watch, especially, during a pandemic.

The Cinemawala Rating – 4/5 

 

About The Author-

Anushree Periasami is an electrical engineer from IIT Madras, currently working as a financial analyst. But her pet project has always been writing. An avid reader right from school, her favourite exercise was essay writing on novels and stories and the critical analyses of plots, characters, themes, etc. That interest continued right through college and to work as well. She was the Regional Editor for the internal quarterly magazine of her company – a compilation of interviews, technology articles and fun puzzles. The only things she loves as much as writing is watching movies and shows, especially masterpieces that aren’t advertised much and largely ignored. As Bojack Horseman put it, “But isn’t art, less what people put into it, but more what people get out of it ?” 

Also elle peut parler francais !

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