As the bus gets the green fields of Ratna’s village and starts to get lost in the crowd of Mumbai city, she takes out her shiny green bangles and puts them on with a smile that says, “at last, I start to feel more like myself.” As a widow living in the village, she doesn’t get to admire those glass bangles on her wrist. In her village, she is supposed to follow the custom every widow has been told and forced to follow. Whereas in the city she finds her own little corner like millions of other women. The cacophony of the crowded streets seems unaltered by the clinking sound of her bangles.
That is what touched me about Rohena Gera’s critically acclaimed film Is Love Enough? Sir. Even though the story majorly captures the unique romance between a housemaid Ratna ( Tillotama Shome) and her employer Ashwin (Vivek Gomber), the aspect of Ratna being an independent woman despite the restrictions she faces at home is one of the best things about the movie. Ratna embodies thousands and millions of women like her who are able to live their life on their terms just because they are away from home. She does a job she doesn’t really love, to earn a living and help her younger sister complete her education. It is because she wants her sister to have a life different from other village girls, a life different from her own.
I see myself in Ratna. Not to compare my first world problems with her struggles to achieve even the basic things in life, but we both have found a way to be on our own. We both have started on a journey to fulfil our dreams.
Many women have built their lives and found comfort outside their parents’ houses. They are able to do that because they are economically independent. I believe economic independence is not something women can choose or not choose. No matter how affluent their families are and no matter how much support they get from their families, women must find a way to stand on their feet and earn their living. I am aware that it is not really possible for every woman in this country because the mere idea of escaping the carapace of households is really difficult for many. But I respect them for even trying to do that. Ratna tried and it is the only way she could see her dream of becoming a fashion designer almost coming to reality.
"When a woman can stand up for herself, walk her chosen path, I think that is a positive ending. I felt it is very much a happy ending in my reading of the script from the point of view of Ratna" – @TillotamaShome https://t.co/bMFbnPEpzu
— SheThePeople (@SheThePeople) January 15, 2021
I see myself in Ratna. Not to compare my first world problem with her struggles to achieve even the basic things in life, but we both have found a way to be on our own. We both have started on a journey to fulfil our dreams. We both have almost escaped the suffocating walls of our conventional homes. Another thing we both still have to face is the looming terror of people who might take everything away from us if we make the slightest ‘mistake’. Ratna while arguing why she cannot get involved with Ashwin says that if her family gets to know about it her brother-in-law will grab her hair and drag her back to the village. It made me of the constant warnings and reprimands I receive from. “Don’t think we don’t know what you’re doing”.
Moreover, I can hide things better than Ratna can. I only have to block all my relatives on social media and show up in a ‘presentable’ manner at home now and then. But like Ratna, I will never go back home if things don’t work out for me. Like Ratna, I will find a way to stick around so that I get to live a life I want to.
Tillotama Shome and Rohena Gera should be thanked for giving voice to women like Ratna. I can’t be the only woman who sees herself in her, although maybe I see more similarity than others. Well, for starters we almost have the same name with just an ‘A’ at different places.
Views expressed are the author’s own.