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Movie Review: “Is Love Enough, Sir?”

Movie Review:  “Is Love Enough, Sir?”


By Anne Bernays


“Sometimes what doesn’t happen is more exciting than what does.”  (anonymous)


It’s hard to believe this movie was created by a large team of people, as it has the intensity and coherence of one artist, working alone. Deceptively small in scope (most of it takes place in one of several rooms in an expensive apartment in Mumbai) it manages to touch on most of the powerful emotions we all feel and have trouble processing.

Briefly, it’s the story of the tightening connection between a rich, educated man, “Sir” and his maid, Ratna, (an unfortunate name) whom he has inherited, along with a luxurious apartment in Mumbai. Recently blind-sided by the infidelity of his fiancé and the subsequent cancelling of their marriage, Sir moons around the apartment while Ratna silently performs the duties of a dutiful servant. But he is far from a lay-about, holding down a responsible job in construction. Smart, determined, and well-schooled in servant behavior; Ratna glides from kitchen to sitting room, serving Sir food which she has prepared and then slipping away, almost invisible. At first he hardly notices her and then, stealthily, his interest in her grows, not because she’s beautiful or sexy. but because her quiet style, intelligence, and explicit intention to become a fashion designer require a personal response from Sir.

Over the course of ninety-nine minutes, this movie’s narrative depends on tiny moments of near-intimacy. For example, Sir and Ratna sort unopened boxes of wedding presents. Their arms nearly touch—but not quite. Empathetic emotion grows in us watchers along with tension in Sir and Ratna, who are restrained mainly by their stratified relationship. Along with Ratna’s and Sir’s growing interest in one another, we see her successful attempts to climb society’s ladder by learning the skills of a dress designer.

To underscore that Sir is “manly” and interested in sex, a prostitute is introduced briefly as she leaves his room, forcing Ratna’s eyes to widen unhappily.

Generally, when we praise a movie, we cite the director, or one or two of the actors, or the screen play (in the old days the screenwriter was considered almost an afterthought), or the cinematographer. And lastly the editor.  But in the case of “Is Love Enough, Sir?” the editor must accept more than the usual credit for a movie that doesn’t flag for a second. Everything counts: a ringing phone, a quick smile, a two-word comment—nothing is superfluous.

Nothing much happens ostensibly as both Sir and Ratna are all too well aware of the huge gulf between them; Indian society is still stuck in a feudal understanding of the nature of master and servant, underscored here by the fact that Ratna eats with her hands while sitting on the floor. But it’s the incremental piling on of the smallest moments of connection between the man and the woman that deliver the message: yes, love is enough. Or is it?