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The movie ‘Sir, Is Love Enough?’ while heartwarming also makes you question the privilege of being able to love and have it reciprocated.
One cannot deny that ‘Sir, Is Love Enough?’ is a heartwarming watch. You cannot help but smile during the delicate moments of simplicity and innocence. Each moment is designed with intricacy, detail, and sensitivity – emphasizing on very simple actions of the protagonists.
Tillotama Shome’s smile and Ratna’s resilience with Vivek Gomber’s subtle attempts to hide his grins and Ashwin’s compassion manage to wash your heart over with a happy feeling. You see Ashwin thanking his maid for the littlest of things and you realize that very few people around you do so. Perhaps because of the entitlement, the salary-givers observe for themselves.
The dignity and integrity that Ratna carries herself with is a very strong character definition. And the movie portrays instances that assure you of that and you don’t have it in you to at all question Ratna’s motives or intentions.
It, however, makes me wonder a few things. Had this happened around us in real life, would we have once taken off our lens of privilege and understood the dilemma of the less privileged? Would we not have judged them harshly, or not labelled them (even if it was in our head) with ‘opportunist’ or ‘gold-digger’?
Had Ratna’s side of the story not been well explained or her actions in the welfare of Ashwin, not been good enough, we would have instantly judged her. She carried a sense of atonement – with every ‘morally’ right thing she did – for every sin, she hadn’t committed. Her character had an attached justification for everything to a point where you can’t help but empathise with her.
This made me wonder whether to understand someone, be sensitive towards them or empathise with them, do we need an entire bio of them? Do we need an entire ‘plan of redemption,’ their entire ‘story’? Especially when that someone is the less privileged and possibly the more vulnerable. Yet perhaps it wouldn’t be this hard to empathise or understand any other privileged protagonist.
Another thing that struck me was that Ashwin wanted a relationship where he didn’t need to put in any effort. Perhaps ‘effortless’ is the definition of love but every relationship requires effort. Every relationship has expectations and Ashwin didn’t want that expectation, that’s why with Ratna it was so easy.
It was effortless and she never expected anything from him. Perhaps because of the disparity in their backgrounds, she would never expect anything from him. Or maybe owing to the extreme patriarchal culture she was brought up in, she would never expect anything from him. Maybe that’s why she would be content with the level of civility that he would possibly maintain as one would infer from his temperament.
Ashwin’s attraction towards Ratna is mainly because she cares for him in the way of tending him the ‘motherly’ love. Especially, where he requires attention and care in the form of someone doing his things. It sets the same precedent of the women having to mother their lovers.
This was probably in the culture back when Khushwant Singh wrote books but not anymore. It reinforced the idea of women having to be kind, understanding, and appreciative of the ego of the privileged man by validating his ‘struggles.’
Interestingly the movie, in many ways, depicts Ratna’s struggle and manages to highlight every difference between the two people. However, very wisely, it whitewashes privilege in one single dialogue when Ashwin and Ratna are standing on the terrace looking at the sea.
Ratna remarks, “I used to think rich people have an easy life,” conveying certain equality between the two characters. It puts the power dynamic in equilibrium even though it isn’t balanced. For a long time movies have tried to portray that power dynamics do not depend on finances, in a sense liberating the well off from acknowledging their privilege.
Another thing that has been discussed a lot was the kiss between Ratna and Ashwin. The very slow, embedded in silence kind of kiss, however, what you see again is the man deciding the moment. He didn’t ask her if he could kiss her, he took it as his prerogative to ‘make the first move’ and kiss her.
It’s rather interesting when I compare such a moment with my own experience. I remember back when ‘kisses’ were what we learned from the movies. This was when I was young and immature, standing on the terrace next to another young boy who was a potential interest.
The boy asked me if he could kiss me. I laughed and asked him, ‘Who asks before kissing someone?’
And he replied, ‘Well what if I try kissing you and you don’t want it?
This was a conversation between two 14-year-olds and if that guy stuck that perspective, I have great respect for him.
It takes a while for Ratna to reciprocate – we aren’t really shown her dilemma. Perhaps she was too scared to not reciprocate or she just didn’t know how to say no. In the kissing scene, you see Ashwin pressing Ratna’s hand, they aren’t holding hands, but he is holding her hand. This was the direct depiction of their power dynamic.
When things seem a little fictitious and Ashwin seems like the ‘too good to be true -ideal man’, it all ends with a real bang, bringing us back to reality. It makes it very clear that to love, is a privilege, only for the privileged.
In this kind of relationship, Ratna has a lot at stake while Ashwin isn’t bothered by the ‘dignity’ or ‘integrity’ or ‘what people will say.’ He isn’t bothered simply because it isn’t essential for his survival.
Ashwin and Ratna may have been dictated by societies but they were a part of completely different societies. Thus, making us realise that there isn’t one society watching us, we have evolved to build many societies!
Even in the end, Ratna has to redeem herself again as she ‘inspires’ Ashwin to leave everything and go back to the US.
Privilege to love, a rather important question that is lurking in the shadows of the various other agendas, issues, and disagreements, is restrictive and limited. There are certain laws and rules that you must stick to even while you ‘love,’ depending on gender, caste, religion, strata, and other unrecognisable elements.
If you’re privileged then you might have the liberty to look beyond all this. And if you’re lucky enough, the person you love could also look beyond all these and reciprocate. It only makes me wonder, are we thriving on a completely wrong notion of love?
Picture credits: Still from the movie Sir – Is Love Enough?
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