The most intriguing thing about ‘Ribbon’ is the mystery of its title. If you are a woman, and you are told that this movie is about the process of a marriage, you might say that a ribbon is the pretty band that gives social and legal legitimacy to such a relationship. If you are a man – a literal species, at best – you may say that it is about the ribbon of a typewriter or a computer printer; it keeps on going until it runs out of ink; much like a marriage.
‘Ribbon’ is actually a ‘reality show’ depiction of the evolution of a marriage for about four years, from the moment the wife finds herself to be inconveniently pregnant when she is in the middle of a challenging period of her professional corporate life, to the time when the baby is a little girl of three or four who needs the undivided attention of both her parents. The film is not fuelled by any plot device, since there is no plot to speak of. Instead, the movie progresses as a series of sequences in the given time period, episodes that discuss various conflicting situations that crop up in a marriage, or for that matter, everyday life in a young family.
It starts off when Sahana (Kalki Koechlin) wants to terminate her pregnancy and Karan (Sumeet Vyas) is appalled by the thought. She argues, she gets drunk, she weeps; he comforts her, he gives her a plan, he indulges her every whim, and they finally have the baby. But when she gets back to work after maternity leave, she finds herself overlooked, bypassed, demoted and then sacked. This is exactly what she had feared. Director Rakhee Sandilya is clearly pointing out and underlining a concern about unfair practises in corporate policy that officially endorse fairness in the treatment of women workers, vis-a-vis maternity leave and child care, but who actually short circuit and cheat the system, by making life difficult for these workers until they leave, or search for alternative employment.
Husband Karan is in the construction business, but the couple need two incomes to keep up the standard of life they are used to. Like weekly television episodes, we go through this film with important lessons in each telecast, mainly about the concerns of the young and aspiring middle class couple who are the protagonists of this film. All other classes of society that infiltrate their lives, like maids or construction workers, are unimportant in the context of this pervasive yuppiedom.
But ’The Truman Show’ this film is not. ‘Ribbon’ is without irony or satire, or any humour to speak of. Its evolution is not marked by events, but by issues that need to be discussed in all seriousness. Even the cinematic aspects of the movie, such as they are, are subservient to the ‘concerns’ that are voiced within. When the film ends abruptly, as you might expect, you have to ask: ‘now what was all that about?’