Sir Movie Review: Tillotama Shome shines in a poignant film about dreams
Sir, which feels like a fairytale set amid the skyrises of Mumbai, is a subdued but poignant celebration of hope, dreams, and love
They say love is blind. Colour, caste, creed, class… nothing is supposed to matter in the sanctum of love. But how often do we think this way? Even those of us who want to badly believe in the noble notion, still fall prey to biases rooted in stereotypes. Rathna (Tillotama Shome) works as a live-in help at Ashwin’s (Vivek Gomber) house in Mumbai. A widow from the villages, this job is her ticket to her dreams. On the other hand, there is the morose Ashwin carrying the guilt of a broken engagement and lost dreams. And in that safe space of a house, they both nudge each other closer to their dreams, finding an unexpected companion.
Director: Rohena Gera
Cast: Tillotama Shome, Vivek Gomber, Geetanjali Kulkarni, Ahmareen Anjum
Sir, in many ways, feels like a fairytale set amid the skyrises of Mumbai. But Rathna is no damsel in distress. I have always had an issue with how a ‘strong, liberal woman’ is always portrayed to be a ‘modern woman’, often armed with make-up, western clothes, and alcohol. But strength and being progressive aren’t about one’s clothes or habits. It is about how they think. Clear, confident, smart — Rathna is a beautiful example of a strong woman. She might be a house help, but that isn’t her identity. She holds her ground well, even in tricky moments. When Ashwin asks her if she has always wanted to be a tailor, she politely but sternly corrects him to ‘fashion designer’. And adds a ‘Why I can’t be one?’ to answer his surprise. Rathna’s dignified tenacity is refreshingly real. As a woman who has been let down by the universe, she is jaded. But it hasn’t killed the childlike enthusiasm she possesses for life. And Tillotama Shome plays Rathna so beautifully, with such grace; every smile, head tilt, and even her hurried walk, the way she clutches her handbag, has conviction and innocence in equal measure. The film might be titled Sir, but it is Rathna who carries the film on her dainty shoulders.
This dignity is inherent in every part of Sir. Ashwin, like Rathna, is written with equal amounts of sensitivity and emotional intelligence. Their relationship is delicate territory that had to be treated with incredible caution; one wrong step could taint the entire equation with distasteful undertones. But Rohena aces it. One can imagine their relationship as a Venn diagram with two circles. As the movie progresses, the common space gradually increases. The camera often reflects this, panning across the screen, placing Ashwin and Rathna’s world on the same plane but also establishing the differences between both. Take the scene at a party hosted by Ashwin’s mother. We don’t see Rathna’s face as she goes around serving people until she reaches Ashwin. For the others, she is just the help. But he is the one who truly sees her. Their interactions being and end abruptly, but are empathetic and insightful. I particularly loved the edit: every cut is placed at the very beginning of an emotion. There is a lot left unsaid, but it is always understood, much like Rathna and Ashwin’s relationship.
Sir is a subdued but poignant celebration of hope, dreams, and love. Rathna and Ashwin know that their bubble won’t last in the normal world. And it is often burst, by several people who question her presence in his life, and vice-versa. But their journey reminds you that one can always dream. It is okay to disown the cynic in us once in a while and give a chance to love and our dreams. And maybe, just maybe love, like dreams, can win against all odds if we let it.