Tall, svelte and charming, yet never the choice for a ‘strong’ role; Kriti Sanon is an actor wasted so far. With Mimi, the PR stunt drop of a film on Netflix, she tries her best to become an actor to be taken seriously. While it looks at a complex and morally polarizing issue through a light hearted lens, Mimi doesn’t do justice to Sanon or any of the other fine actors in it’s cast.
Hindi cinema, unlike Hindi web series, falls short of delving into the difficulties of social issues and taboos each time around. Perhaps it’s the lack of run time for a film; or this formula that Dinesh Vijan’s Maddock Films seems to have cracked, about picking a taboo topic and making it an entertainer, some matters need greater depth in storytelling and sensitive handling. They also need research.
I didn’t find any of this in Laxman Utekar’s Mimi. The protagonist is slender and has a flat stomach before she gets pregnant as a surrogate mother to an American couple. When she is visibly pregnant, the Americans ask her to abort the baby. And they just leave India. Prior to this scene, the gynecologist tells them that the fetus has Down Syndrome. All of this is factually incorrect. In India, abortions beyond 24 weeks are illegal; and women don’t carry big visible bellies at this stage. When the couple abandons the surrogate, where is the gynecologist in this scenario? Given that Mimi signs a legal contract with them, is the provider of this service, in this case the gynac, not responsible too? And this is only one of the many flaws in this film. The growth leap of an American infant to toddler is miraculous to say the least.
Beyond woke reviews about a woman’s right to choose, the film doesn’t address the most fundamental matter in this scenario- a woman’s experience of being pregnant and then, becoming a mother. It brushes through these emotionally difficult scenarios with no attention to detail. Abortions are tough choices even for the most educated and financially comfortable women; because they impact the host’s mind and body. In Mimi, a driver (Pankaj Tripathi) convinces the beautiful dancer set to go to Bollywood that her dreams are just a few lakhs away if she agrees to carry the American baby. Her friend, played by Sai Tamahankar, goes along with the plan. When they find out, her conservative Rajasthani parents go into blame game overdrive over ‘pregnancy’ and ‘Muslim son in law’. In no time they also accept and enjoy the process of bringing a child into their family. Manoj Pahwa and Supriya Pathak play Mimi’s high-strung parents. Not a single actor gets an emotional range or graph to display their performance abilities. These characters barely go beyond the action stage in this story, never quite explaining or subtly justifying their reasons for their actions.
Rather than address disability in children, the film tackles this difficult issue with an insensitive touch. When a fetus is diagnosed with Down Syndrome, the mother would be monitored throughout her pregnancy with tests and check ups. And when the child turns out to be normal, that would be a medical rarity too. Why even introduce this element into an already unconvincing story if one will not research it’s emergence in children properly? This bit serves misinformation to audiences.
Veering from light hearted comedy, to family dramedy, to a social message film questioning the moral limits of surrogacy, Mimi tries to do too many things at once. Adding to the disappointment is the mediocre musical score by A R Rahman. Had one not read credits, one might not believe this is his work! Remade from an acclaimed and awarded Marathi film Mala Aai Vhhaychy (2011), Mimi could have been so much better if it had not also tried to entertain audiences typically.
The one good thing about this film is Kriti Sanon’s acting skills and eagerness to perform; hopefully filmmakers will take notice of her talent.