Sir: A deceptively simple, emotionally resonant drama that (rightly) puts its characters before its themes

Posted on May 16, 2018

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Read the full review on Film Companion, here: https://www.filmcompanion.in/caught-2018-sir-review-rohena-gera-tillotama-shome-baradwaj-rangan/

Whatever the opposite of “hard-hitting” is, that’s the flavour of Rohena Gera’s miniature-size drama, Sir. I mean this as a compliment. A lot of Indian filmmakers get into festivals by pushing the right buttons — and Sir (which played at the Cannes Critics’ Week) does tell a story that touches on cities and villages, the contradictions in Shining India, the plight of widows, class structure, and so forth. But the director’s success is in making a film first. She is no doubt invested in these issues, but she isn’t beating her breast and wailing — whatever she wants us to think about is folded into the story and the characters, like spinach in an omelette. It is Good For You™, no doubt, and it will provoke healthy discussions, but you don’t taste the spinach.

Ratna (Tillotama Shome) is a maid. That’s the word some of the characters use, though her employer, Ashwin (Vivek Gomber), would probably call her his domestic help. Despite his obvious wealth (courtesy the family’s construction business), he doesn’t treat Ratna like a slave. He says “Thank you” whenever Ratna brings him a cup of tea, or fixes a meal — the way we’d thank the waiter in a restaurant, even though he or she is just doing the job they are being paid for. It’s the reflexive kind of niceness you find in people who don’t look down on others. In the hands of another actor, Ashwin may have come across as bland, lacking colour and character, but Vivek Gomber makes us see a man who knows that he is privileged but doesn’t see why that makes him very different. It isn’t self-effacement, either. Ashwin just is.

Continued at the link above.

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