Indian screenwriter and documentary director Rohena Gera makes her fiction feature debut with Sir, a thoughtful and heartfelt love story with likable and persuasive performances, particularly from its female lead. This is, in many ways, a classical domestic drama about character, situation and social class.

Poster for the Indian romantic drama SirTillotama Shome plays Ratka, a young widow from a remote village who has come to Mumbai to be the live-in maid to a wealthy newly married couple. But something is very wrong. The supposed groom arrives on his own: young, handsome and depressed Ashwin, played by Vivek Gomber. There has evidently been a monumental row, the marriage is off and now Ratka’s job is looking after this highly attractive and eligible young man.

After a tricky start, Ratka soon becomes the perfect maid to Ashwin, whom she calls ‘Sir’. She is good at screening calls from his formidable mother; she tactfully suggests keeping all the unopened wedding presents in her tiny room so they don’t upset him.

Inevitably, Ashwin feels closer to Ratka than anyone. He gives her time off to learn the tailoring business, her ultimate dream, and he admires her courage and drive – so different from the spoilt princesses that his friends and family are still trying to set him up with.

The situation between Ratka and Ashwin begins to heat up when he sees her dancing in the street during a festival and they have to ride up in the elevator afterwards, the atmosphere pulsing with social and sexual tension.

Both the lovers and the filmmaker face the dilemma of whether to consummate this forbidden desire, and Gera finesses it as far as she can. Sir is a delicately observed and attractive drama with some great Mumbai cityscapes and an excellent performance from Shome.

–  Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

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