“Is Love Enough? Sir” is a Hindi romantic drama initially released in Cannes film festival followed by theatrical release in European countries in the same year. The movie released in Netflix India, in November 2020.
The story starts with a girl named Ratna, probably in her mid 20s bidding goodbye to her family in village to join back at work in the city of Mumbai. She worked as a live-in maid in Ashwin’s house. Ashwin came from an affluent family, recently got back from New York hearing about his brother’s poor health condition. He was living in with his girfriend Sabina in a high-rise building of Mumbai.
He was an aspiring writer but coming back to India, he joined his father’s work in construction.
Ashwin broke up with his girfriend after finding about her cheating on him, he too found himself not emotionally invested in her anymore.
For days, he was very calm and low spirited- not interacting much with anyone, barely eating.
Ratna, on the hand wants to self sufficient. She was married off at the age of 19 and within a couple of months her husband passed away. The society she was living in, couldn’t see a possibility of her living a worthy life after that.
But Ratna was resilient. She wanted to study while she was forced into a marriage. After losing her husband, she found herself some work and moved to Mumbai. She was helping her sister to complete her degree as well.
Ratna was devoted to her work, never trying to take advantage of any situation. Her diginity, sincerity to the work and passion to become a fashion designer were few things you wouldn’t miss to see. After Ashwin’s girfriend moved out, people found Ratna’s living questionable but she didn’t pay much attention to it.
Ashwin’s reluctance to life felt unbearable to Ratna, oneday she shared her own story (how she lost her husband at young age and still turned her life around to become independant) to make him understand the very essence of life, “Life goes on…”
Ratna started taking sewing tution with Ashwin’s permission but for a month the tailor made her work for free and did not teach her a thing. On her way home, she used to see the boutique and the designer dresses. The fashion designer in Ratna was slowly coming out. One day she gathered courage and went inside the shop to get inspiration and see some designs. The shop owner came in and kicked her out.
Ratna felt humiliated, after coming home- she was very upset.
Ashwin first thought she was interested in tailoring, “Fashion designer it is”, Ratna corrected. Ashwin was surprised and responded, ” it’s tough to fair as a fashion designer… ” The boutique memory was still fresh in Ratna’s mind. She snapped back, ” Is it because I’m a maid?”
The movie showed time and again, how unintentionally we put labels and limits to people’s dreams depending on their socio-economic background. Ashwin could not believe at first that his maid coming from a remote village of India could even dream of becoming a fashion designer.
After realizing how serious Ratna was about achieving her dreams Ashwin gifted her a sewing machine. This time she started tution from a reputed place where she was learning every quite quickly. Ratna was inspiring Ashwin to pursue his dream of becoming a writter as well-“You can write from any place, if you want”… Ratna made a dress for her sister, imitating the design that she had seen earlier.
For Ashwin’s birthday, Ratna made him a shirt and Ashwin happily wore that outside that day…
Ratna had a belief that money is the solution to all problems and everything is perfect in rich people’s lives. She started sympathizing for Ashwin who had no short of money yet his life was far from being perfect.
Ratna was very upset when she found out her sister was more interested to get married and come to Mumbai than finishing her studies. Ashwin reassured her that the husband could actually be sincere enough to encourage the girl to finish her studies, and gave her some money for wedding gift. When Ratna went to her village for her sister’s wedding, Aswhin found himself missing Ratna for the first time… He came to her tiny room for the first time, where she built her own world. Ashwin called her up, there was awkward silence in the conversation to check on her… Ratna came back with a happy face knowing that
her sister would be able to complete her degree.
Ratna was always very professional, never trying to be friendly with her boss. She used call him “Sir”. Ashwin never looked down upon Ratna for being a maid- he had immense respect and trust in her. Ashwin never let his friends be disrespectful to her. Their lives might be poles apart, yet they understood each other so well.
One day Ashwin gave up to the restraints that he was putting on himself and kissed Ratna confessing his love towards her. Ratna too found herself off guard for a brief moment and responsed to his affection. Ashwin was prepared to do anything to be with Ratna- Ratna on the other hand knew their relationship was never gonna end well.
After all she was a maid. Society would never respect this relationship no matter how innocent and pure their feelings were for each other. Ratna would also lose trust of her family and they would force her to go back to village.
Ashwin’s parents just lost a son, another shock from the remaining son would break their hearts. Clearly love wasn’t enough to sustain the relationship.
She took him to the rooftop of a high rise building from where you can see the entire city. Everytime Ashwin insisted her not to call him “Sir”, Ratna used to reply, “Then what should I call you?”
Soon after Ashwin sharing his situation with his close friend, Ratna left the job and moved in with her sister. She requested Ashwin not to reach out to her and forget about the kiss. Ashwin too confessed his thoughts to his father and left for New York to pursue to his passion.
Few days later, Ratna got a job offer of a fashion designer from Ashwin’s friend (probably because of his recommendation). Ratna went back to Ashwin’s place only to find out that he had left that place. That day Ratna was feeling lonely and crying to herself standing on the rooftop where she used to come often. Just right then she got a call from Ashwin…
“Ratna…”, he said.
“Ashwin!!” all her emotions came right through the single word that she had never uttered before.
My thoughts on the plot of “Is Love Enough? Sir”:
Rohena Gera the writer and director of the film tried to imagine a situation where two opposite world collide. Nevertheless the story did not lose its touch of reality. Tilottama Shome as Ratna did a brilliant job. Her body language, the way she spoke in Marathi with her sister, Hindi and little bit of English with her boss, Hindi with her companion who was maid in next appartment- showed diferent dimensions of her character. Years of observarion have made her craft so perfect.
There was a sequence in the movie where she was dancing in the Ganapati immersion procession when Ashwin got back from work. Ratna stopped dancing and joined him in lift. She was sweating and panting heavily. As the dance and the lift scene were shot in different days, Tilottama ran a couple of times around before the lift scene- the sweating and panting were all natural – this is just one example of her perfectionism.
Vivek Gomber played the role of Ashwin. Unlike any other alpha male bollywood hero, the character of Ashwin was sober and respectful. He never forced himself on Ratna or laid eyes of lust on her. Even though he wanted to make an impulsive decision to leave everything out for Ratna, he cooperated Ratna in her decision.
The movie shows the contrast of lifestyle so effortlessly. Ashwin lives in a huge appartment right next to the sea, in a high rise building. The house is well-furnished, decorated with nice stuffs. Ratna had a tiny room with a yellow bulb in it – doesn’t look like a room of that appartment at all.
While Ratna served food to Ashwin on the table in nice plates and cutleries… she herself ate in a steel plate on the kitchen floor by herself. A maid, who’s doing all the household chores and take care of the family – we never make them feel like home.
I felt Ratna’s dedication to work little unrealistic, it might be because she genuinely wanted to take care of Ashwin.
I have come across many live-in maids in my life, in most of the cases I have seen them reluctant to put any extra work. With due respect to everyone, getting maids is one of the major problems – be it because of the need of them being trustworthy or them doing their work properly. Maids are very always in high demand and nobody wants to displease them as the working couples barely get time at home… Maids know this demands well enough to squeeze as much resources as they can get out of their work. Same with the bachelors, they would never complaint about the food or anything unless they are getting something on the table!
My colleagues always tell me how specific their maids are about their service- one who is appointed for cleaning dishes wouldn’t clean the kitchen counter. The maids who live with the family would do only the work they are asked to do. They would not go out of their way to do any work. This I am telling based on my personal experience.
There was one particular maid who lived with us for more than a decade, who was an exception to the ones I have talked about. I was very young, when she started working at our house. I used to call her aunty- she used to make so many tiffins, tell me stories and went out on walk with me. She never said no to any work. She might had done some politics here and there and started some fight, showed neglegence occassionally but I must agree that aunty had done so much for us never asking for a raise. She had lived with us as one of our family members.
There is no unnecessary dance sequence or romantic songs in the movie… It’s devoid of any complicated plot twists as well!
The alternative endings of “Is love enough? Sir”:
Even though I cannot deny the fact that the movie ended with the right note my mind that is influenced by 2 decades of Bollywood-type romance was compelled to think about few alternative endings.
- If Ratna had agreed to be with Ashwin, few days would have been full of love and happiness but that wouldn’t last long.
Ratna’s family would have disowned her or dragged her back home.
She wouldn’t ever get a chance to think about pursuing her dream.
When Ashwin’s family would have known about the affair, they would have shamed Ratna than Ashwin… Or maybe they would have forced him to get married with another girl. If not so, they would have a bitter relationship with their son. Ashwin’s friends would have laughed at him at his back.
Not being able to cope up with each other’s world, they would have started regretting their decision. Love wouldn’t have been enough, Ashwin and Ratna would have ended their relationship on a sour note.
- Since Ratna and Ashwin both agreed to work on their own passions- Ratna’s job as a fashion designer might take her to new heights- she might become very successful and rich and never need to look back.
Ashwin too could finally finish his novels and made a place for himself. They might keep in touch with each other as friends and met after many years when the class difference is out of the question.
They could finally get back together, happier than ever that they took time to work on their own lives and become more matured than rushing into a relationship.
- This ending that I imagined is almost similar to the previous one, except that Ratna and Ashwin never got back together. They always remained good friends with each other-supported one another through thicks and thins. They got married to different people, but always had a place of respect, affection and trust in each other’s heart.
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