Sir Review- 𝗔 𝗱𝗲𝗹𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁𝗳𝘂𝗹 𝘁𝗮𝗹𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝗳𝗼𝗿𝗯𝗶𝗱𝗱𝗲𝗻 𝗹𝗼𝘃𝗲, 𝗲𝗻𝗵𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲𝗱 𝗯𝘆 𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗳𝗶𝗰 𝗽𝗲𝗿𝗳𝗼𝗿𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲𝘀 𝗳𝗿𝗼𝗺 𝗯𝗼𝘁𝗵 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗹𝗲𝗮𝗱𝘀.
Director Rohena Gera’s Sir, is the story of the intermixing of the lives of two individuals from fairly distant backgrounds- mainly cities and villages. Although being centered around topics such as the contradictions in modern India and the class structure, the film is not hard-hitting because that is not Gera’s intention. Instead she is here to tell the story of two lonely individuals, both of whom have lost something in their lives and while on their quest to recover it, simply happen upon each other and it gives me the utmost pleasure to say that it is simply beautiful to witness.
Ratna(played by Tillotama Shome) is a maid who has recently come to Mumbai to serve as the live-in hired help to a newly-married couple in their warm apartment. She has come from the village to work in the city as her husband had died a few days after their wedding, making her the sole breadwinner for her in-laws. She, though saving money for her sister’s education, hopes to become a fashion designer, but the circumstances at her village prevent her from becoming so which is why Mumbai to her actually felt like a fresh start. The movie starts off with the sudden news that she would have to start a few days earlier as the couple’s honeymoon had been cancelled. Coming over to the apartment, she finds the groom returning home alone and hears that the marriage has been called off due to some irreparable reasons. Now, Ratna has to live and take care of Ashwin in that same apartment. The setting is sufficient enough to create sexual tension but Gera’s screenplay never does that from the onset. The way the events unfold is remarkable as the director devotes time in building their relationship from the ground up. Their story is told through a mere accumulation of small events that occur gradually.
Although the movie focuses primarily on the conversations and the relationship between the two leads, Gera never sugarcoats the situation both of them are in. It is a tale of forbidden love but the way Gera presents it to us feels the most natural. The character of Ashwin is not without flaws and his friends never see past Ratna’s status. However, owing to his upbringing in the US, Ashwin doesn’t look at Ratna with same slave tag as his friends. He is quick to notice the similarities between them and tries in his own way to help her with her dreams. He understands he is privileged but doesn’t get the fact that how he is very different from her. On the other hand, Ratna is defined solely by her dead husband and she can’t even wear bangles around her family. Her dreams may seem modest to her employers but Gera is able to make it relatable to anyone who is struggling out there.
With much of the film being from Ratna’s viewpoint, we perceive Ashwin as she does. First from behind the closed door, then at the dinner table while serving him food. It is in these subtle moments we see their relationship transform. Gera loves to capture Ratna and Ashwin in isolation. The characters rarely are in scenes together at first and most of their day ends with both of them back in their respective rooms. It is here we get some tracking shots where the camera passes through the wall to show their true selves in solitude and Gera uses the aspect of environmental storytelling to its fullest in these particular scenes. The wall here, becomes a sort of barrier between them, a barrier which only the camera is able to cross. The most excitement however, comes from the most common events . It’s as if Gera’s frame pushes them close. They pass each other in the hallway, they engage in small talk which mostly ends abruptly as they are left in a moment of silence facing each other, building the silent tension. Soon they actively start to enjoy even the most mundane aspects of each other’s lives. But as the excitement builds, so does fear. Ratna knows what people are going to say if they come to know about the truth of their relationship. Ashwin seems to understand that but doesn’t quite apprehend the fact that the consequences for him are much less severe.
Coming to the technicalities, Gera uses the film’s cinematography and editing to achieve the harmony on screen. The cinematographer, Dominique Colin, deserves the most praise. The way the camera is always positioned makes the huge apartment feel sort claustrophobic for both Ratna and Ashwin, thereby forcing them to grow closer. The camera also captures the loneliness of both the characters. In those aforementioned tracking shots, we get to know about their mindset and see how both of them are lonely but are desperate for some connection. The editing is near pitch-perfect with none of the mundane scenes ever feeling like a drag and the score of the film which plays often during the silences helps to add to the building tension between them, though sometimes it is overused.
Of course, one has to acknowledge that the movie would never have worked without a capable cast, especially for the roles of Ashwin and Ratna. Tillotama Shome is simply magnificent as Ratna. It is the most vibrant performance I have been exposed to in quite a while, often making her the sole attraction of a scene. She understands the character perfectly and brings a lot of subtle nuances about her, which enabless her to convey her mind to us with ease and often without any dialogue. Ashwin’s character would have seemed washed out at the hands of any other actor but Vivek Gomber’s compelling performance is what prevents that from happening. He does a brilliant job of playing this man who is an outsider in this world and though being privileged, understands the fact that the value of a person is not solely determined by their status. Towards the end though, his character does become quite selfish with regards to his relationship with Ratna and his arrogant attitude on how he doesn’t care about what the world thinks about their relationship really felt egocentric. Though he is able to sort himself out, that part of his character development didn’t quite sit right with me since it implies that he was acting upon his lust and he never sincerely understood her as a person.
Shot mostly inside the posh apartment, the film evokes protagonists’ love for each other through the most meagre events comprising mostly of thoughtful acts and small talk. Rohena Gera masterfully creates a sensuous and poignant engagement, in which both Ratna’s down-to-earth personality and Ashwin ignorant dreamy ideals are reasonable and thereby helping to stiffen the already existing discrimination with regards to gender and social status.
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