Mimi Movie Review: A feel-good film on surrogacy with some problematic takes
Laxman Utekar’s second Hindi film is mounted on a bunch of important social issues that get ticked one after the other, some more effective than others
At a crucial juncture in Mimi, Kriti Sanon’s titular character faces an insurmountable legal hassle. The perennially genial Bhanu Pratap (a brilliant Pankaj Tripathi) comes in support of Mimi and loses his temper for the first time: “Mimi is not alone. We are all there with her.” This holds good not just for the character but the film itself. Laxman Utekar’s second Hindi film is mounted on a bunch of important social issues that get ticked one after the other, some more effective than others.
Mimi (an assured Kriti) is an aspiring Bollywood starlet from Rajasthan who needs to earn quick money to jumpstart her career in the city of dreams. Bhanu is a cab driver who asks her to be the surrogate for a US-based couple, John (Aidan Whytock) and Summer (Evelyn Edwards). A few funny exchanges later, Mimi, who is convinced by the benefits of the arrangement, agrees to Bhanu’s proposal. A wonderful couple of AR Rahman songs, crackling chemistry between Mimi, Bhanu, and Shama (Sai Tamhankar), and a fun few montages later… the proverbial hell breaks loose. Interestingly, the reason for the primary conflict isn’t Indian society being conservative, but the Western couple in question.
Director: Laxman Utekar
Cast: Kriti Sanon, Pankaj Tripathi, Manoj Pahwa, Sai Tamhankar
Streaming on: Netflix
It is an impressive choice to see surrogacy treated in a light-hearted fashion in a film set in a world where this term is relatively unknown. However, this choice has its demerits too, as Mimi feels too nonchalant for its own good. Similarly, writers Laxman and co-writer Rohan Shankar do a decent job of reining in the melodrama to avoid Mimi becoming melodramatic. However, Mimi ends up becoming too stoic for its own good. It’s a constant deterrent that the film doesn’t seem to be able to hit the sweet spot between nonchalance and melodrama.
The earnest performances help. Kriti, who exhibits a lot of spunk in her sprightly avatar, hits almost all the right notes in the emotional sequences. Pankaj gets to show us once again how he can add freshness, despite playing the good-hearted simpleton yet again. The supporting cast of Manoj Pahwa, Supriya Pathak, Sai Tamhankar, and Atmaja Pandey effortlessly keep us engaged too. It is a film filled with largely good people, and that is not a problem at all. The inconsistent writing, however, is. In some scenes, the writers hit it out of the park, but then, the same efficiency cannot be found in other portions. The easy resolutions to some really wild conflicts don’t help either. A family patriarch who accuses his daughter of besmirching the family reputation becomes accommodative in the very next scene. A beautiful Hindu-Muslim solidarity scene gets followed by garden variety Islamophobia. An overarching lesson on the various facets of motherhood exists in the same film as anti-abortion sensibilities. These contrasting choices get in the way of this otherwise feel-good film.
Also, I wasn’t particularly sold on how a particular revelation about the unborn child’s health is treated in the film. Or how an afterthought of a message gets shoehorned into the film. AR Rahman’s music and the performances left me fighting tears in the last act, but that’s just saving grace.
All this isn’t to say that Mimi is a bad film. It draws smiles and laughs, and an overall sense of comfort pervades its 132-minute runtime. However, the messaging gets uncomfortable. Just like Laxman’s previous film, Luka Chuppi, Mimi too barely scratches the surface of the big issues it takes on. It is hard to make peace with a movie that has such problematic takes, even if it’s fairly entertaining.