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Is Love Enough? Sir: A Poignant Film On Love, Class And One’s Right To Dream

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Do you remember hanging out with a group of friends, when the behaviour of one of them completely pissed you off, because of the way they mistreated someone who did not come from the same social strata? Or maybe you saw someone take that mistreatment in their stride. You probably felt angry. Maybe you spoke up or maybe you didn’t. Maybe you stayed up all night thinking, how is the world created so unequal?

How do we give legitimacy to these class-based prejudices that are so obviously oppressive and inhuman?

If you want to watch a good film that is thoughtfully made, that talks about society’s class problems breathing down our necks and is rooted in that relatability, then this is the film for you.

A still from the movie.

To be completely honest, the rich-man-loves-a-poor-girl theme has been well explored in Indian cinema or western cinema (the iconic My Fair Lady, comes to my mind). But Rohena Gera-directed ‘Is Love Enough, Sir?’ peels the theme layer by layer, while not dehumanizing any of the sides. The narrative treats the ignorance of the high-class society with as much compassion as it treats the helplessness and fatalism of someone from a lower rural economic class.

Har kisiko sapne dekhne ka haq hai.” (Everyone has the right to dream)

If a society indeed was willing to blur the class differences and bring down the walls, the film offers a wonderful solution for that. As someone coming from a privileged background, are you willing to see people for people, as whole individuals who may have their own aspirations, beyond their current social status? Will you be their ally? Will you make available those opportunities so they can have a fighting chance? Do you have the capacity to let go of these prejudices inside your own head?

Call it the blessing of OTT platforms, but these platforms have allowed actors that the audiences knew as well deserving but producers did not have the guts to bank on, to finally receive their dues from the filmmakers in terms of the centrality of their characters. One such gifted find has been Tillotama Shome who plays Ratna, a widowed maid who comes to Mumbai to work as a domestic servant, but not one without her own dreams.

The film stands tall on the sheer realness of the two lead actors and the vulnerability portrayed by the two-Shome who plays Ratna and Vivek Gomber who portrays the role of Ashwin, a son from the family of upscale real estate developers. Ratna works for Ashwin, and eventually, the two develop a liking for each other- a love that is inter-class, forbidden, sweet, full of respect for each other, though one that some may even call ‘impractical’. I would not have believed the story myself if I did not have someone in my family who went through a very similar inter-class marriage and very successfully so.

You are also struck by Gomber’s ability to play a US returned-privileged-urbane professional who is simultaneously aware of and willing to see the social realities around him. Gomber has previously produced masterpieces like ‘Court’ (2015) that went on to win a National Award for the ‘Best Feature film’, yet another thought-provoking film that should have been a mandatory viewing for all.

His film choices seem to talk about Gomber’s obvious sensitivity for films that speak of our times, films that do more than just ‘entertain’.

A still from the movie.

A Scene Close To My Heart

The ones I love the most from the film are spoilers but one that is close to my heart and is probably fair game is when Ashwin orders a sewing machine for Ratna, on noticing her interest in tailoring and her dream to be a fashion designer. The most beautiful thing about the film to me, simply as a viewer is that Ashwin is shown as being not above moral failures. But he is seen as deeply invested in learning to treat Ratna better, in a way that does not breach her self-respect.

The film is not above its flaws. The music, in a bid to sound ‘typically Indian’, plays to the same stereotypes that you will find used in multiple Indian films made for international audiences.

All in all, this is a poignant film of love that touches upon yawning class differences, while showing the possibility of bridging those differences, with love and some sensitivity.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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