Cast: Geetanjali Kulkarni, Rahul Vohra, Tillotama Shome, Vivek Gomber
Gan Foundation Award, 2018 Cannes Critics’ Week
Audience Award, 2018 World Cinema Amsterdam
“Everyone is entitled to their dreams.”
It’s 2018 in Mumbai, and on the surface, the possibilities seem endless in the modern city. Yet, behind closed doors, the story is different — or rather, the same. Through a love story between two people from very different backgrounds, SIR explores the subtle yet powerful ways in which India’s longstanding and deeply entrenched caste system continues to shape each and every interaction.
Ratna, a young widow from a small village, has come to work as a live-in maid for Ashwin, a handsome and wealthy bachelor. At first, their interactions are sparse: Ashwin is moody after recently breaking off his engagement, and Ratna is trying to fulfill her role as the unobtrusive servant. Soon, however, she begins to take slow steps towards her lifelong dream of being a tailor, acts of agency and independence that catch Ashwin’s eye. Tension builds in a slow burn that breaks the surface for just one smoldering moment — before it is quickly stifled again in the name of propriety.
What sets SIR apart from the usual star-crossed lovers story is its restraint: rather than impulsivity, the film allows its characters to hesitate so that when they speak, each interaction hangs heavy and punctuates the air. In doing so, director Rohena Gera manages to craft a film rooted in the social reality of India while also daring to dream of what is possible through love.
– Yang Jiang