Social taboos and the status of women form the focus of a delicately observed drama about the relationship between a wealthy man and his maid
The Indian screenwriter and documentary director Rohena Gera makes her fiction feature debut with this thoughtful and heartfelt drama she has written and directed, showing here at Cannes in the Critics’ Week sidebar. It’s a love story that slides a bit towards sentimentality and photo-love unreality in its final act, away from the strongly and plausibly rooted situation we had started out with – but the performances are likable and persuasive enough, particularly the female lead.
Tillotama Shome (whose screen credits include Mira Nair’s Monsoon Wedding) plays Ratka, a young woman from a remote village who has come to Mumbai to be the live-in maid to a wealthy newly married couple in their handsome apartment. She has been allowed this relative freedom because she is a widow – her husband died shortly after their wedding. But something is very wrong. She is briskly informed by her employer that she will have to take up residency earlier than expected because the honeymoon isn’t happening. Then the supposed groom arrives on his own: the 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. They will effectively be living together.