Sir, a story of tragic and archaic class systems

Tillotama Shome in Sir

Sir is an Indian film about a house maid and the rich man she works for. Set in modern day Mumbai, it shows how ancient prejudices and caste barriers still control lives and love. Netflix has the film.

Vivek Gomber and Tillotama Shome in Sir

Sir is about Ratna (Tillotama Shome), a widow at age 19 who came to the city with dreams of designing dresses. She works for Ashwin (Vivek Gomber), a man she addresses as Sir. The title Sir maintains a distance between them.

The film builds very slowly. It begins with small moments involving the running of the house and Sir’s requests for things. He recently broke an engagement and his mother and friends all lobby him to take the woman back. He won’t.

As Ashwin and Ratna get to know each other, Ratna requests two hours off each afternoon so she can learn tailoring. They begin talking to each other about other things – family, their previous lives.

Moving in tiny increments, they fall in love. But, of course, they can’t be in love. Nobody would understand. They would be shunned and ridiculed. You don’t cross the class barrier to be with someone that far above or below your station.

Ashwin kisses Ratna. She’s drawn to him and terrified about it. She doesn’t want it to happen again because it could mean her job and her chance to continue in tailoring class. But she does want it to happen again, too.

Servants sitting on the floor to eat in Sir.

Ashwin he comes into the kitchen at his mother’s house to ask her if she wants a ride home. She’s sitting on the floor, eating with the other servants, as is normal.

He made a terrible public gaffe coming into the kitchen, asking a personal question. She feels her only choice is to move out and look for another job. He begs her to stay. The tagline for the film is “Is love enough?” The scenes of hopeless impossibility about their relationship are sad.

I won’t tell you how the film ends. I will say it is unresolved. I will also say that the last line of the film is worth the slow burn of getting there.

The film was written and directed by Rohena Gera. It’s her first feature length film and a very promising debut. A mix of Hindi and English, the film quietly and calmly observes two people whose lives are upended by love.

Poster for Sir

Here is the trailer.

Does this look like something you’d enjoy?

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