I stumbled upon Rohena Gera’s movie, Is Love Enough? Sir, one weekend while browsing through Netflix. It has been a few weeks since I watched it, but the two main protagonists have grown in my mind. I feel compelled to encourage people to see this gem of a film.
Most of the film takes place in a plush Mumbai apartment which belongs to Ashwin (played by Vivek Gomber), a young writer. Ashwin has been compelled to return from New York to be with his parents under tragic circumstances. Just when his life seems to be turning to a new season, his wedding to his fiancee gets called off. His servant Ratna (played by Tillotama Shome) who has been sent off on leave, is hurriedly called back. She is a full-time maid, cook and housekeeper who keeps the apartment in order.
Tillotama Shome is brilliant, playing the quiet maid, who knows her limits. Her dignified demeanour makes you respect her for what she is. The way she removes her slippers at the door and carries them to her room in her hands, the manner in which she is conscious of the way her saree falls, and even how she knocks at the door, speak volumes of her place in the equation. Despite the social divide, she is sensitive enough to know that Ashwin is feeling low. And conscious of the distance she is supposed to maintain with her employer, she quietly tells him her own story. Of how she became a widow and how she overcame the hurdles in her life. She reaches out to show her empathy even when it seems impossible.
It is a movie where little gestures open up cracks in the societal fabric. The tone of voice, the sneer in one’s remarks, and the snides reveal the superiority that the rich feel. Yet it is the little gestures which remind you that the poor have feelings as well. They have a right to a life of dignity and a right to dream of better lives.
Sir is a story where two decent people share their feelings without saying too much. But can the chasm between their social circumstances give them a meeting point? Ashwin is nice to Ratna, without being either patronizing or exploitative. He genuinely cares for her. Ratna, on the other hand, is assertive and very clear about what will work, and why something won’t.
You cannot but feel drawn to their chemistry, even when like Ashwin’s friend, your stereotyped brain screams: “You cannot date your maid!” The equations that are drawn in steel in our social fabric are deterrents to erasing the divide. A simple question like asking Ratna if he should wait to take her home, is cause for ridicule. Not just from the rich, but also from the poor.
If you are the kind you loves an off-beat, warm, short film which will make you question stereotypes, this is a must-watch. Rohena Gera’s direction and screenplay is impressive. But the person whose efferverscence and dignity stayed with me long after the film ended, was Tillotama Shome’s Ratna. I’m a fan of hers for life.