Class, Work, and Relationships Inspired by Sir (Is Love Enough)

Thank you all for nagging and nagging me to watch this! And also, thank you for being understanding that I wanted to wait until I could watch it with a friend and be happy.

This is not the first romance I have seen in between servant and employer. It’s a relationship that pops up in surprising ways in surprising places, and then plays out (if it is handled well) in kind of the same way every time. Whenever I watch these movies something feels vaguely familiar to me, vaguely believable. And I finally remembered while watching this movie that this was the romance of my great-grandparents. They were from the same town, and their families were more or less of the same education and status and money and so on, but they were from different communities. And my great-grandmother was working as a household servant at my great-grandfather’s family home when they fell in love and eloped.

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The thing that rings true to me when I see this kind of story play out onscreen is that it is NOT impossible. It’s not impossible at all. If a couple has enough in common to fall in love with each other, than they have enough in common to be a viable couple, they just have to find a place that will accept them. For my great-grandparents, that meant moving across the country. For other couples it may mean moving across oceans. Or it may just mean moving across town. This is one of those times when I feel like the sad filmi ending is in fact more of a fantasy than the happy ending. Yes, of course, there are couples who just can’t get passed the differences. But there are sooooooooooooooo many couples who DID get passed those differences. Maybe we don’t see it in real life because we are seeing those couples years down the line and we forget how “impossible” their start was? I’ll give you another example from American pop culture, beloved couple Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. When they fell in love, Newman was married with children and everyone said it was “impossible” and a fantasy and couldn’t last. And then ten years later, they were boring Newman and Woodward, a typical dull couple.

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I will also say that for my great-grandparents there were good times and bad times. And during the good times, the differences between them really didn’t matter. But during the bad times, they really did. That’s the other “true” thing. It’s not prejudice to warn a couple that “these problems will keep coming up”. Differences of class, religion, race, ethnicity, whatever it is, they are always going to make things a little bit harder.

The point of this film, what is actually in the title, is that YES love IS enough. Being with someone who is different from you will always make things a little bit harder, but being with someone you don’t truly love will always make things flat out impossible. The number of stories of people in real life who say “I am so glad I broke up with that person I loved passionately because it was a logical thing to do, and instead married this sane and sensible person I don’t much like” versus the people in real life who say “It was worth it to get the divorce/go against my religion/fight with my family, because now it is ten years later and everything is fine and I am so happy” is I am guessing very different.

It’s one thing to have a teenage romance that is too intense, that is based more on hormones than anything else, that is too quick and you don’t really know each other and is just generally unhealthy. Those romances I think a lot of people have. And they die off one way or the other, and then years later you meet someone else that you sincerely LIKE and can build a life with and are happy and are so very very glad you didn’t marry the other person. It’s something else entirely to be a mature adult person who falls in love with someone of another race, the same sex, another religion, whatever it is. Who likes them, and knows them, and trusts them, and feels connected to them. And then someone tries to snap this bond for silly made up reasons like “what name will your children call God?” I honestly think in that case that yes, love is enough, and this long steady trusting bond you have built will carry you through.

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Also this story. Everyone said it was too hard, and we even saw her parents decades later still struggling with their differences. But we also saw that it was worth it.

That’s the kind of romance the film Sir very carefully builds. These are not children, these are not people playing at love. She is a widow who has been living independently in the city for an unknown amount of time. He is a professional who has lived alone overseas, and now has returned to live alone in India. He has recently canceled a wedding at the last minute, realizing that he does not want that kind of sensible marriage that has no true love behind it. When they start to get to know each other, it is talking about what they want out of a satisfying life, the duties they owe to their parents, their aspirations. Yes, she doesn’t even speak English. Yes, she hasn’t graduated high school. Yes, she is living in deep poverty and he is living in deep wealth. But they have a bond there. Late in the film, his friend asks our hero why he loves her, and he says “there is trust there”. That’s very important. It’s not about romance or sexual attraction or any of those things that can be brief and forgotten, it is something solid.

The other thing that Sir builds very carefully is that the biggest challenge in this sort of a romance is for the lower class character. Our hero is well drawn of course, and is a bit unusual because he sees his maid as a person. It’s very important that he is a former NRI, the film indicates clearly that living overseas in a culture like America where “servants” are far less common has made him more aware that it is people who are cleaning the counters and making the food and doing everything else. He starts by simply being decent, not being blind to her existence. And then, because he is not blind, he starts to see who she really is and get to know her and falls in love with that. For him, the combination of the American experience which has brought him out of the Indian class mindset, and the pure freedom of being a wealthy educated man, means that he doesn’t really acknowledge the problems between them.

But for our heroine Tillotame (who was also the maidservant in Monsoon Wedding! How cool is that? Same storyline playing out over and over), this is not so easy. She starts with a similar journey, she begins to see her employer as a person because she feels sorry for him after his marriage falls apart. And once that barrier is thinned, she sees who he is and falls in love with that. But for her, this love is legitimately terrifying. She does not see anyway it can move forward, and she can see the ways it will already damage her if it stays as it is. Either she remains his servant and has an affair, which will isolate her from her own friends and family while she remains isolated from his community. Or she leaves with a broken heart. There is nothing else possible.

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It’s not a romantic Cinderella story, not if it is a real love story. It’s a story of someone being convinced to take a risk because they can trust to love, and that risk comes from the powerless one below, not the one on top. That’s why I think this movie has a happy ending. All the problems around the couple can be overcome, are just illusions anyway. All that matters is taking that first step. Once she calls him by his first name (after he has declared his love to his family), the happy ending is certain. They can have a long distance romance while she takes English classes and works for a fashion designer and he lives in New York, and a year or two later they can be married and he can bring her over on a Visa and she can work as a seamstress at one of the many fashion houses in New York. Or he can decide not to go to New York after all and instead get a smaller place and be self-supporting in Bombay and they can date in the classless spaces of Bombay and then marry and build a life together. Or they can get married the next day, he can whisk her off to New York with him, or they can get a smaller self-supporting apartment together. All of this is possible so long as she is willing to take that risk, and he is willing to say to his father “I am in love with my maid”.

Here are some other movies to watch if you like this kind of story:

Corrina Corrina (1994): I saw this as a kid and still remember it. I don’t know why it isn’t talked about more. Set in 1959 (so 8 years before Loving vs The State of Virginia shut down interracial marriage laws in America), a white upper middle class widower hires a Black woman as a nanny/housekeeper after the death of his wife. He is awkward with the “appropriate” women folks try to set him up with, but he likes going home and talking to his new employee, and she likes him. She is smart and educated and had bigger dreams than this job and he appreciates her intelligence. They get closer and closer without really saying anything. And then I won’t tell you the rest, but it is a nice ending. Like this movie, an ending that says “we acknowledge the problems and impossibilities, but we also acknowledge that family comes where you find it”.

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Cake (2018): A Pakistani film I reviewed a while back. It’s a family drama of the Dil Dhadakne Do style, everyone has issues and everyone has changes and stuff. But one of the storylines is a love of letters and small moments between a longterm family employee and the daughter of the family. Once again, the ending is just about taking a little leap and trusting they will make it the rest of the way.

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Lust Stories (Zoya’s Short): This is the darker side of the story. A maid and an employer who have only a passing connection. It leaves her feeling empty and used and unsatisfied, while he can go on his way forgetting she ever existed. It’s not forced or abusive, but the aftermath is different for each of them.

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Photograph: This is not a servant-employee situation, but it is between two very different classes. They can’t say anything, both of them are too afraid to acknowledge it, but also afraid to walk away. And the ending suggests, maybe they won’t walk away, maybe they will just stay together because they are happier that way.

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Jab Harry Met Sejal: This isn’t just me making an excuse to talk about a movie I like. It really is a servant/owner relationship. Even though they are overseas, even though he is so much older and more sophisticated than her, she approaches him with the attitude of a rich woman used to ordering servants, and his innate sense of inferiority responds to that.

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What do you think? Is Sir heading for a happy ending? Do you think that “impossible” romances actually work in real life as I described? Are the other interesting meditations on servant/class issues that you would like to add to the romance list here?

27 thoughts on “Class, Work, and Relationships Inspired by Sir (Is Love Enough)

  1. I don’t know. I only see power imbalances, possible sexual harassment, love for money etc. Of course, there may be couples like this – but more in the America context where people have at least similar starting points – for ex, sure the maid wouldn’t have gone to college, but she would have gone to school.

    Also, in real life, I have never ever met a couple that started with such circumstances and actually went on to marry.

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    • Huh. I didn’t see that. With the power imbalances, to me it was the hero’s blindness to them that kind of made them disappear. He treated her like a human, listened to her, and so on. It made them more two people sharing a house than a power imbalance, to me. With money, what intrigued me was that they established she did not have enough, but also he had too much. We saw that he had this huge apartment he didn’t even really want or need, his job made him miserable, basically that there is a certain amount of money that is more than a person needs. And from his comments about his American lifestyle, it sounds like he was happily living a very modest life. This isn’t a story of the rich man raising up the poor woman, this is the story of the rich man and poor woman both being unhappy with their side of the social divide and working towards meeting in the middle. And definitely not sexual harassment to my mind, he doesn’t touch her until the kiss, which was clearly reciprocated. And then right after that, he makes clear that he wants a real relationship and respects her, and it is up to her what happens next. And she isn’t afraid to say what she wants to happen next.

      I’ve never met a couple, that I know of, where they met when he was very rich and she was a household servant. But I’ve met interracial couples who married when it was barely legal, I’ve met couples from very different classes in society, I’ve met couples who had all kinds of things that made them “impossible”. And then it works out. I mean heck, look at the British royal family! Charles is married to Camilla, Wills to Kate, and Harry to Meghan. And all of those marriages were thought “impossible”, until suddenly they weren’t.

      On Thu, Feb 4, 2021 at 2:54 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I should clarify my comment. I haven’t seen the movie, but generally when i’ve heard of such stories in real life in India, they have always been sordid (like Shiney Ahuja raping the maid, sordid).

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        • Yes, this movie handles that so well!!!! Late in the film, the hero’s father asks him “are you having sex with your maid” and he says “no, but I am in love with her”. His Dad was not particularly surprised or judgemental at the idea of them having sex, but actually being in love shocked him.

          On Fri, Feb 5, 2021 at 10:25 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  2. 1. I accept that the apartment was huge for Mumbai, because you (and other reviewers) refer to it as huge. I saw a very nice kitchen, a combined dining room living room area, a patio, an office nook, a hallway, and a bedroom that included a couch and TV. Also when I compare it to the Lust Story apartment it was definitely bigger. But it was still a one bedroom apartment. So from my (rural American) perspective the two protagonists were on top of each other all the time. And personally I feel that amount of space was totally reasonable for a single human, even though it was meant for a couple. He didn’t leave that marriage because he wasn’t in love, he left because she cheated on him. True he wasn’t in love, but that wasn’t why he left.

    2. I watched the Lust Story again after Sir, and had a different take the second time around. She slept with her employer, but he made no claims of serious affection. Yes then learning about his upcoming arranged marriage was weird, but she chose to sleep with him, and she might choose to sleep with him again. On second viewing I didn’t see her as the victim I saw at first viewing.

    3. Two I imagine them having a long distance relationship of sorts, possibly for years. They may choose to break taboos and family relationships, or the pressures of family and society may push them towards a friendship, especially if one or both start a new serious relationship. However, even their friendship is a break with societal dictates. One reason I think the end result may be friendship is that I was never convinced of her love for him. She liked him yes, but did she really love him?

    4. Remember how you and most other’s think Sejal is being so mean when she tells Harry she would never leave her fiance for a tour guide? I’ve always appreciated that moment. She isn’t ready to reject her view of the world to make way for an attraction to a servant type, she isn’t in love yet, that comes later.

    5. A bird is making a nest inside my roof and I can hear it while I type this. I can’t decide if this is a structural problem with my (giant by Mumbai standards) house or adorable.

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    • 1. It’s more about the size of the individual rooms. To have a large open living room, big enough to host, and a separate kitchen, and a maid’s room, that is the kind of apartment you would get if you wanted to lead a big splashy hosting lots of people kind of life. And ditto all his fancy art and furniture and stuff. And then we see our hero, in cargo shorts and t-shirts, sitting alone in his bedroom watching TV. Does that make sense? To me the apartment said “this is a place set up to indicate a certain status, to be a public show room”. It felt small because it was empty, does that make sense? If the life of the apartment had been a couple sharing a bedroom, then eating breakfast together at the dining table, then hosting a large cocktail party at night, you would have hardly noticed the maid in her little room and locked in the kitchen. There are other movies (2 States comes to mind, or Wake Up Sid) that show kind of a “normal” single person’s apartment. And when I think about it, it is less the number of rooms, and more that they don’t really have separate hosting areas for parties, everything is sort of set up to be functional instead of decorative.

      2. I think the Lust Stories story is very carefully in a funny grey area. It’s not a coercive relationship, the sex is mutual. But the end result is going to be these moments where she feels really awkward and he doesn’t. That’s a choice she made, but it’s an unfair choice she had to make. Like, if he could say “this is my friend and employee and we used to have casual sex”, it wouldn’t feel weird for her any more. But there are so many social reasons that isn’t possible to say and if he can’t publicly acknowledge the relationship, at the same time he is treating her like the employee she is, it’s gonna get weird. They made the choice with open eyes going in, but that doesn’t take away her right to feel humiliated and angry on this particular day. I think that’s what it is saying.

      3. There are two things that make me think she did love him. First, when she came back from shopping for her class supplies, she was so smiley and happy to share the news with him. That felt like more than just him being nice to her, that felt like she was euphoric about being with this person in particular. And second, the way she sobbed and sobbed the night she left. Again, more than just “I am frustrated at having to leave this house and my place in life”, felt like heart break to me. So I will land on the “there is enough there that it is healthy to play the relationship out” side of things. Maybe pressures will still break them apart, but if they don’t at least try, they will both always have that “what if”. Maybe they both fall in love with other people later, but I don’t see them feeling open to falling in love with someone else until they play this thing out fully. Does that make sense?

      4. Yes! I still don’t like that moment, but yes exactly. Harry is a “safe” person for her to tease and pester and maybe even fantasize about a little, because the internal servant/master line is so clear in her head. And clear in his head, he may have affairs with clients, but he would never cross certain lines.

      5. I should say, your house is huge by Bombay standards, but not necessarily by Hyderabad standards or Delhi standards or all kinds of other places. Shahrukh likes to make a little jokes about how everyone in Bombay thought he was crazy when he announced he was buying a house because people in Bombay don’t have houses. But he was from Delhi, and people in Delhi do have houses. WHAT A SECOND!!!! Your parents live in the Bay Area!!!! You should know ALL about relative housing sizes!!!! I still haven’t recovered from visiting a friend in San Francisco and staying in a 3 room apartment that was smaller than my studio.

      On Thu, Feb 4, 2021 at 1:29 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • My parents live in a GIANT house in the Berkeley hills. (Currently with my sister and her family, but that is new and perhaps not permanent.) They have thought of downsizing; I wanted them to get two smaller houses and rent one out for stable income. My mom went to visit a friend who lived with her husband in a three bedroom apartment in a retirement building, and my mom said “they were on top of each other”. Three bedrooms, the couple each had their own office/craft room, but still too small for my mom. After that conversation I stopped trying to get my mom to move.

        When I lived in S.F. I shared a flat with one (sometimes two other people. It had two bedrooms, a living room, a nice kitchen with room for a little breakfast table, and a dining room (the dining room was where the sometimes person slept), a patio and access to a shared back yard. Our furniture wasn’t as nice, but it wasn’t too far internally from rich Sir’s abode. And my roommate hosted people all the time, often at 4 in the morning on weekdays. Whenever I hear the White Stripes I think it is 4 in the morning. I had a small apartment in Berlin, one bedroom and a tiny kitchen. I had dreams of finding another room secretly hidden away. I guess growing up in a big house has its drawbacks.

        Your points about her love for him are good. I do think she HAD to leave for their to be any hope of a relationship. The ethics of having a relationship with such a power imbalance is just wretched. Even with the best intentions he just had too much power over her. I did suspect that his having lived in America was necessary for the plot to unfold as it did, but I would love to hear someone in India’s take on the situation. Because the idea of someone living in your house, sleeping on your floor, always around is not only so foreign to me, but actually almost invasive, I recognize that I may not be looking at this film as most audience members would.

        By the way, my parent’s house has back servants stairs, but no servant sleeping quarters that I know of, unless the idea was for them to sleep in the basement? Hmmm, The basement does have three rooms. The cartoon Rocky & Bulwinkle was created in my Parent’s house.

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        • The house next door when I was growing up had kitchen stairs, which I always thought was kind of magical. But I think they were for day staff, not live-in. More of a part time cook/housekeeper kind of thing where she comes in the backdoor and only goes upstairs by the backstairs. Of course when I was growing up, they were for kids to race from getting snacks back up to bedrooms to play.

          Your sense of space definitely expands to fill whatever you are used to. I lived in studio apartments for over ten years, I’ve only been in my 1 bedroom for 3 years and now I can’t go back. It just feels normal to have this much space.

          I was thinking that in some ways the movie might have played better for Westerners, or folks who had some Western experience. Because I think it was playing with that sense of unease. We learn that his mother hired and trained her, and that his fiance had some kind of relationship with her. I put together that he was not comfortable with the “maid” relationship and avoided it as much as possible. But now that the wedding is off, those barriers between them are broken and he is not comfortable with this odd lifestyle, he is too Western to just accept it and forget about it. I’m wondering if someone who had never experienced a different way of living might have a harder time looking at the two of them and saying “yes, of course they would become close, they are sharing an apartment”.

          On Thu, Feb 4, 2021 at 3:23 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • A long time ago, perhaps a decade, I read a long in depth article about servants in the U.S. Who had them, who chose to become a servant, how they were treated. And the article focused on the present (at that time), not the past. But the last paragraph of the article said that the majority of of U.S. folks who have servants, enjoy telling people what to do.

            But in India it looks totally different. Veer-Zaara’s protagonist loves her servant so much she disobeys her family to scatter her ashes in India. Everything is different. And while Sir doesn’t mention caste, and the male protagonist believably could care less, his family, friends, and even the female protagonist could care very much. In the U.S. we just have class, add caste into the mix…well I just don’t know.

            Anyone grow up with servants in India? Could you imagine Sir happening to your friends?

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          • What an interesting idea! That in America, people who have servants really enjoy it. Maybe it is because there are so many other options? I know loads of people who use a cleaning service, as I am sure you do too. But that’s not the same, is it? That’s contracting with a company and a team comes in and does a service for you. Even having a cleaning woman isn’t QUITE the same. It’s not a cleaning service, it’s a personal relationship, but you are one client out of multiple, and you give them a W9 and it’s all very corporate. The few people I know where it wasn’t corporate, where it was casually paying someone once a week with no corporation involved, it ended up becoming personal very quickly. Not like falling in love, but like it’s just AWKWARD to have someone coming in to your house for a few hours and not talking to them, and then you end up talking a lot, and then you become friends. One person I know ended up being invited to her cleaning person’s wedding. All of this is to say, maybe in American culture it is that there are so many alternative ways to have the same services performed without a strict “servant” relationship, so the only people who seek that out are the ones who really REALLY want it. Versus someone like the hero in this film who probably would have preferred a cleaning service and a meal delivery service to take care of his basic needs while he was working all day, but that wasn’t really an option.

            Here’s a possibility to throw into the mix just to BLOW YOUR MIND: it’s entirely possible that the hero and heroine of Sir were the same caste. She was cooking his food, which is one of the big caste taboos, and that’s also a reason that you might advertise and purposefully hire an “uppercaste” maid. A household could very easily have an uppercaste servant to do the cooking, and a completely separate lower caste servant who comes in only to clean the toilets and is never allowed to touch food.

            But then they were also not of the same caste. Ultimately “caste” is a reflection of a society that deeply believes in boundaries between people. Maybe according to older caste rules, they are the same. But the new rules between village and urban, educated and not educated, and so on and so forth, mean there is a new unwritten “caste” law in place. That’s something else that is kind of crazy to think about. 3 generations back, they could have been neighbors. That’s how fast wealth has changed in new India. His family moves from the village, starts a business in the city, prospers. Her family stays in the village, struggles, becomes poorer and poorer. And a few generations on, they pull on those old connections to find a reliable Brahmin household servant from a family from their village.

            Oh, and for your continuing servant questioning, this is SUCH a great movie: https://einthusan.tv/movie/watch/yzML/?lang=malayalam

            On Thu, Feb 4, 2021 at 5:41 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • “I know loads of people who use a cleaning service, as I am sure you do too.” – Actually I know NO ONE. And growing up in the Bay I knew no one who used a cleaning service. A LOT of people had a cleaning lady who came once a week. Once my mom got a job the first thing she did was hire a cleaning lady to come in once a week. She worked for the family for years, but she was illegal, so when my father decided to run for City Council they had to let her go (with a fat check of course), and there were tears streaming down everyone’s face. Then my mother hired another person, who I would buy perfume in Europe for. She would come with her daughters, it made me feel terrible, though I wasn’t living with my parents at the time. She made wedding couple magnets to give out to wedding guests for my wedding. She died young of cancer, so then my mom employed her daughter (who was raising her younger sister). Now with the pandemic my mom is too scared to have someone come into the house, so she pays her to go shopping for her once a week. I can’t remember he name. I have had conversations with her, we talk about kids (she has a daughter now), I like her and yet I (probably purposefully) don’t remember her name. I don’t like the power imbalance. It feels wrong. Not remembering her name doesn’t make it better though, it just helps me not think about it.

            I have some friends who hire a woman to clean once a week now, but not many. One friend fired her cleaning lady because she was getting too involved in her life.

            “3 generations back, they could have been neighbors. That’s how fast wealth has changed in new India. His family moves from the village, starts a business in the city, prospers. Her family stays in the village, struggles, becomes poorer and poorer. ” – Yep that blew my mind. The truth is I don’t think about caste much because I know I don’t really understand it, but I recognize it as a potentially lurking other muddying the waters of what I’m watching. Unlike the servant relationship, that I think may be within my realm of understanding, I’m pretty sure I’ll never have a firm grasp of caste. But it is kinda cool to realize that the servants could be of the same caste and that in three generations class can totally change.

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          • You and I know very different people!!!! I will tell you that I do know one cleaning lady very well, because my Mom used to be a cleaning lady/homemaker. It was one of her many jobs between college and grad school. But growing up in our group of families with houses and working white collar parents, cleaning companies were far more common than cleaning ladies. Maybe it’s like private schools and other class things? Just, very geographically specific? Or maybe you and I are an example of one of those subtle impossible to pin point class differences, both with similar education and family backgrounds and yet different?

            My Grandpa has had home helpers for over 10 years now, since my Grandma started getting dementia real bad. They did used to have a cleaning lady for years, a once or twice a week person. But having these people in Grandpa’s house 24/7 now feels very different. Of course, they aren’t “servants”, they are healthcare workers. It feels different if they are helping him get out of bed in the morning and checking his pulse along with making him breakfast and changing the sheets. Still a little awkward though, especially now when they are risking their lives to keep Grandpa healthy which just feels like a horrible power imbalance. And yet, I don’t want Grandpa to die, and they aren’t asking to change jobs. It’s tricky.

            The nice thing about caste is that you can generally ignore it when watching movies, because movies are just afraid to deal with it. Off the top of my head, the only big budget popular cross-caste romance in recent years is Dabangg. And Dhadak, but it’s like the whole plot in that one. Class, however, super important! So good on you if you can follow that part because I struggle with it. But yes, the lowest caste is generally kept down by prejudice and struggle and so on (although the “scheduled caste” government system of set asides has created some rich and powerful lower caste folks). The higher/midrange castes though, they can be all up and down the economic scale. You could very easily have an uppercaste maid working for a lower caste employer. Might even be more likely than a lower caste maid working for a higher caste employer, because the employer would not want their home “sullied”.

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  3. The movie I have seen few days ago, Ore Kadal is also more or less about unbalanced romance. Mammootty is world famous professor, very intelligent and well-off (although he lives in a simple neighborhood) but also an alcoholic. Meera Jasmine is neighbor . She is middle-class woman who only studied till 10th grade, married to unemployed simple guy and mother to a little boy. Mammootty helps her when her son is ill and their friendship starts. Soon they have sex and she falls in love with him, but he doesn’t want any ties. Then a lot of things happen, but I don’t want to spoil it. Overall it’s a beautiful story but also disturbing.

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  4. ” This is one of those times when I feel like the sad filmi ending is in fact more of a fantasy than the happy ending. ”

    Yes! Especially when the couple is like: Oh we can’t be together so let’s commit suicide.
    I always ask: WHY? If you’re so desperate so why don’t you try to elope?

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  5. Might be a strange comparison – after I finished watching Sir I remembered Padayappa. I know that both are world’s apart in their portrayal but some how I felt that both were connected in the question whether class differences can ever be overcome?

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    • I like this idea! One thing both movies have in common is that the hero fell in love with the heroines spirit and honestly courted her. It wasn’t pity or trying to “rescue” her. I really liked that in Padayappa, Rajinikanth fell in love with who she was and then flirted and wrote love notes and proposed the exact same way he would have done if she was the richest woman in the village. No pity, no assumptions, no awareness of their respective power places.

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  6. Padayappa (Rajani kanth) already married a maid (Soundarya) and thereafter triggered lot of events in Padayaapa (Narasimha) Movie.
    SIR is over simplified and Padayappa is over glorified.

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  7. ” You could very easily have an uppercaste maid working for a lower caste employer. Might even be more likely than a lower caste maid working for a higher caste employer, because the employer would not want their home “sullied”.”

    I’m not sure about this. Then again how I see upper castes is different from an outsider. Where I come from, there are 5 castes that are called OC (other caste meaning not backward, dalit or tribal). You probably will never see women from these castes working in households considered lower in hierarchy. Clerical/White collar work is different. Semi-skilled work like tailoring, embroidery or even salesgirl in shop is okay but working in a household as a maid or cook, a big no no. I’ve never seen one scenario like this.

    I feel the love in SIR is simplified. I couldn’t see a common ground between 2 people. Seeing other person as human is not enough. Its believable in Monsoon wedding because she is young and grow to match the other party (not that it takes a lot to match Vijay Raz) but in this movie, given her age, the potential for growth is limited. Felt like the power imbalance between them can never be closed and it made me sad. Its like Charles Heston and his mute mate in Planet of Apes where Nova will never meet Charles Heston halfway.

    I value respect over love in a relationship so I wished Tilotama had youth or intellect (she topped her district in 10th but had to drop out) in her favor. Soundarya in Narasimha, Revathy in Ek our prem kahani were young so I see that working out.

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    • This is the part of caste I know I will never understand. it exists in some form or another everywhere in South Asia, as I understand it. But the particular form it takes is very specific to the region you are in, so far as I can tell. In some places it is truly just separate communities with their own traditions and so on, and in some places it is a stern hierarchy that rules all. I know there are Brahmin maids, that’s pretty easy to confirm, because of the food issue. But I am also sure that is something that is a specific concern of certain areas only AND that refers to a particular kind of concept of caste, one that has specific communities within it but also large barriers between groups (this person isn’t part of my exact community, but we are both part of the general “Brahmin” level, so she can cook my food).

      It seems like in Northern movies it is more of a “there are big general caste categories with hierarchies, but the minor variations are less important”, and in southern movies you have more of a tribal feel to it, it’s not about “better” or “worse” so much as “us” versus “them”. I don’t even know if that is a Northern/Southern divide, or just film related, with the southern films aimed at specific language groups than can have more details while the Hindi films go for the general urban/international audience and draw in broad strokes.

      On Fri, Feb 5, 2021 at 5:09 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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