Disclaimer: The following article contains spoilers from the movie Sir.
After premiering at the 2018 Cannes Festival, Tillotama Shome and Vivek Gomber starrer Sir, directed by Rohena Gera, finally released on Netflix.
An insightful romantic drama, Sir achieves the rare feat of lending grace, respect, and authenticity to a relationship our society finds easy to mock and judge, and impossible to accept. And it does so, without whitewashing reality.
Here are some of the finest moments of the film:
1. When Ratna shares the story of her own marriage with Ashwin to help him.
Ashwin breaks off his marriage at the last moment when he realizes his fiancé cheated on him. Noticing his despair, Ratna offers her own story to help him move on.
It's one of the first times where Ratna chooses to cross the unsaid boundary in their relationship, in order to offer comforting advice. And Ashwin sees her as a person with lived experiences and not just his house help.
2. When Ratna leaves a non-paying internship with a tailor because she isn't learning anything.
Ratna begins a part-time job with a tailor in order to learn the craft and pursue her dreams of being a fashion designer. But when the tailor continues to assign her odd tasks instead of teaching her the craft, she takes a stand for herself and quits working with him to instead, join a tailoring course.
It showcases that as a domestic servant, Ratna does not have the liberty to take a stand for herself but outside of her world as a domestic servant, she is a headstrong, vibrant woman, unafraid to pursue her dreams.
3. When Ratna takes off her bangles while going back home for her sister's wedding.
Ratna is a widow and, confined by archaic, patriarchal customs, is not allowed to wear bangles. While she may ignore these customs in Mumbai, she is quick to slip into the role of a dutiful daughter-in-law when she is headed back to her village.
Because she knows how important it is to keep up appearances that help her receive permission to work in Mumbai. In a way, for Ratna, the act of taking off the bangles is akin to wearing the shackles that may temporarily restrict her freedom, but ultimately, might help her gain independence.
4. When Ratna tells Ashwin that he may not care about what society thinks of their relationship, but she does.
Their romantic relationship is at a nascent stage, but before it can develop any further, a phone call jolts Ratna back into reality. After all, she's all too aware of the practicalities of life that have rarely, if ever, impacted Ashwin's life.
In their contrasting responses remains an acute observation of how societal barriers can impact your life, irrespective of your intentions.
5. When Ratna confesses to Ashwin that she was wrong to believe that being financially well-off is the same as being independent.
Ashwin is caught in a cycle of familial responsibilities and social obligations that keep him away from what he truly desires, professionally and personally. And that's when Ratna realizes that money, alone, can not solve all of life's problems.
6. When Ashwin's friend succinctly highlights that love, unfortunately, can't overpower societal barriers.
Ashwin's friend notices that Ashwin is developing feelings for Ratna and advises caution. One may think he is being a classist jerk, as he says ho himself, but in his comments lay a deep-seated reality - it's one thing to challenge the status quo but quite another to face the repercussions of it.
In a straightforward manner, he reminds Ashwin that even if Ashwin believes he's found a soulmate in Ratna, for the world, Ratna will continue to be viewed as his maid first, and partner later.
7. When Ratna finally calls Ashwin by his name and not Sir, dismissing the title that restricts their relationship to that of an employer and employee.
After Ratna and Ashwin are romantically involved, Ashwin constantly asks Ratna to not refer to him as Sir, perhaps in a bid to remove the physical example of the class divide that exists between them. It's only at the end, when Ratna is finally a step closer to her dream of being a fashion designer, thanks to Ashwin's help, that she calls him by his name.
It's perhaps Ratna's attempt to dare herself into dreaming a new dream - one where love is no longer policed by arbitrary barriers.
All images are screenshots from the film on Netlflix, unless specified otherwise.