Rohena Gera’s 2018 Hindi-language film, ‘Sir – Is Love Enough?’, is a beautiful and poignant tale of love that transcends social backgrounds and class divide. Companionship, profound emotional intimacy, and friendship can be found even in the most unexpected of places. But if it evolves into romantic love, are those feelings enough to bridge the gap that years of conditioning, societal norms, education, and upbringing have carved between two people who stand on the opposite ends of the social spectrum?
Gera’s slow-burning, impactful, and painfully sweet romance film poses that same question and leaves the audience with an ending that’s open to interpretation, depending on what you personally think about those very societal norms the characters challenge. If you’re looking for a clearer understanding of the ending of ‘Sir,’ you’ve come to the right place. First, let’s take you through a quick plot synopsis and then dive right in to discuss the deeply moving ending. SPOILERS AHEAD.
Sir Plot Synopsis
Ratna is the live-in domestic help employed by the affluent US-returned architect Ashwin and his fiancee Sabina. When Ashwin returns from his destination wedding after leaving Sabina at the altar, Ratna has to cut her trip home short and return to work as well. The servants are all abuzz, wondering about the details of the break-up, but Ratna can gauge her employer’s sadness from his demeanor.
When a friend comes over to talk to Ashwin about Sabina, we find out that Sabina had cheated on him. Ashwin doesn’t blame Sabina because he admits, in retrospect, that he wasn’t in love with Sabina and was only marrying her because she had been there to support him and his family after they had recently lost his younger brother to an illness. As Ashwin slowly picks up the pieces of his life and attempts to move on, Ratna is always there, quietly moving about the house, making his life easier.
Even when Raju, the driver, offers to find her a more suitable position (worried that living alone with a man in the same house is inappropriate), Ratna shuts him down by saying that society will think what they want, but she will stay because she knows she has done nothing wrong. In a standout scene that serves as an ice-breaker between them, Ratna tells Ashwin about her husband, who passed away just 4 months after their wedding, leaving her widowed at 19. She ends her story by saying, “Life doesn’t end, sir.” Ashwin understands what she’s trying to say.
Ratna and Ashwin’s friendship evolves slowly as they talk about their individual dreams and aspirations (Ratna wants to be a fashion designer; Ashwin misses his life as a writer in the US and dreams of finishing a half-written novel). In a slow building whirlwind of unspoken emotions, the two fall in love, despite a huge class divide between them. They don’t say it ever, but it shows in the subtle gestures, longing expressions, and heavy silences. He buys her a sewing machine; she stitches him a shirt for his birthday; he calls her randomly, just to hear her voice when she goes home to her village for 3 days to attend her sister’s wedding. An unguarded moment of shared tenderness jolts Ratna back into reality, and she tries to bring Ashwin back as well, for both their sakes.
Sir Ending: Why Does Ratna Go Back To Ashwin’s Place?
After Ratna leaves the job and Ashwin’s home, she goes to live with her sister, who also moved to Mumbai after her wedding. Her sister asks Ratna if she was fired for stealing something, but Ratna truthfully denies it. However, Ratna doesn’t reveal to her sister (or anyone) that she left the job because she’s in love with her employer. Meanwhile, Ashwin tells his father that he wants to move back to the US. When his father asks him if he’s sleeping with the help, Ashwin says, “No, but I am in love with her.” His father agrees that it would be best if Ashwin leaves India.
A few days later, Ratna gets a call from Ashwin’s fashion designer friend, who gives her a job offer after an in-person interview. Realizing that Ashwin must have pulled some strings for her even to land an interview, Ratna goes to Ashwin’s apartment to thank him, but he isn’t there. She’s disappointed that the door is padlocked, and the film does not tell us if Ashwin has already departed for the States or is just out in the city. Ratna goes to the rooftop, where she gets a call from Ashwin. She picks up but takes a full minute to say, “Ashwin…”
The movie ends right at this pivotal moment in Ratna’s and Ashwin’s love story. Ever since they had shared a kiss, Ashwin had insisted that she call him by his name instead of addressing him as “sir,” but Ratna had been holding out, not wanting to encourage him. Ratna addressing him as “sir” throughout the film serves to establish their vastly different statures. They live in the same house and sleep in rooms separated only by a wall, but actually, they are worlds apart.
Do Ratna and Ashwin End Up Together?
Rohena Gera deliberately leaves it open-ended for viewers to interpret and imagine what they will. There are two distinct possibilities. In the first scenario, Ratna only says his name once to show him how much he means to her, thank him on the call, and they never meet again. Pessimists and realists will probably imagine this end to Ratna’s and Ashwin’s short-lived but poetic love story. These are the viewers who agree with Ashwin’s friend earlier in the film when he says that their love will not be accepted by the society they live in.
His friend says that Ashwin’s mom would not even eat at the same table Ratna is seated at, much less accept her as a daughter-in-law, and a rejection of this magnitude will only hurt Ratna. This strikes a chord because it is the sad but realistic truth of the Indian society. Far more value is placed on a person’s social stature than on the qualities of their character. In fact, it’s not just in India that unsurpassable class division exists; it’s in any society that is built around the oppression of one particular faction. Ashwin’s friend and Ratna are both right – they would be ridiculed and shunned if they were to continue their romance.
But the second possibility – one that optimistic dreamers and romantic idealists like me imagine – is that Ratna calls Ashwin by his name as permission of sorts, agreeing to his earlier insistence of staying together, regardless of societal norms. Maybe her saying his name instead of “sir” is Ratna finally greenlighting their forbidden romance. The story’s angle of Ashwin moving back to the States is indicative that the audience can (and should) hope. No one in America cares if Ashwin marries or is romantically involved with his former household help. In the US, they can be together without judgment and ridicule. What if that phone call is not the last time Ashwin and Ratna talk to each other? What if.
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