Ever had one of those journeys when you’ve planned everything perfectly but still end up being miserable? You’re going to an amazing destination, you have a safe ride to take you, your travel companions are the best you can get and you have everything to make you comfortable. But then something goes wrong mid-way and you have no idea what it is. But it still affects you and your travel is ruined.
This is what happens to Netflix’s freshly released “Mimi.” The Hindi-language film has an amazing cast, a decent production budget and an intriguing subject. But it fails to capitalize on its strengths and goes awry in storytelling.
Written and directed by Laxman Utekar, the drama initially disguises itself as a retrospective on commercial surrogacy. It is thus cleverly placed in 2013, around six years before India’s Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill came into effect, to give the audience a glimpse of what surrogate pregnancy looked like for India’s poor who were doing it for money.
An American couple—John (Aidan Whytock) and Summer (Evelyn Edwards)—have failed to conceive naturally and are searching for a surrogate mother in Rajasthan, India. They are looking for a “young and healthy female” to bear their child when they come across Mimi (Kriti Sanon), a local dancer. Bhanu (Pankaj Tripathi), their taxi driver and guide, then takes on the difficult task of convincing Mimi to become a surrogate mother for the American couple. With dreams of becoming a Bollywood actor but no means of getting there because of her humble background, Mimi takes up the offer for INRs 2 million.
The couple then leaves for the US and Mimi, lying to her parents—Mansingh (Manoj Pahwa) and Shobha Rathore (Supriya Pathak)—that she has a shoot for nine months, goes to live in her friend’s house. All is going well for the parties involved when at almost the end of the nine months a routine checkup reveals the child Mimi is bearing might have Down Syndrome. This scares the American parents who refuse to own up the child and run away, leaving Mimi to her fate. Now Mimi not only has to decide on the fate of the unborn child but also face her unassuming family and a conservative society. What she chooses to do and the effects of her decisions form the rest of the movie.
The tragedy with Mimi is, despite having a strong subject like pregnancy and motherhood as its central theme, it never connects its audience to the characters emphatically. Albeit using up around 2hrs 12mins of screen time, the film treats all the conflicts and confrontations it raises only superficially. Everything is happening too easily. The sense of acceptance of all situations by everyone makes it unrealistically altruistic, thus never invoking much emotion in the audience.
Humor and comic timing of the actors make Mimi an enjoyable affair nonetheless. Where the writer/s have failed to address the gravity of certain situations, they have at other times inserted some really witty dialogues and situations that in turn are performed well—especially by lead actors Sanon and Tripathi. Sanon, as Mimi—the center of attention—has a coming-of-age story to tell and the actor does manage to deliver one of her best performances. And Tripathi, with the legacy he has built over the past few years, does what he is expected to—manifest a character that blends into the story and setting so well that you forget you’ve seen him as an entirely different person in the past. We wish Mimi’s family—the parents played by the talented Pahwa and Pathak—had got a more defining role. Had their characters been written a bit stronger, their presence would have added more value to the film.
Who should watch it?
Even with all its flaws in storytelling, the acting and elements of writing/filmmaking in Mimi make it worth a watch for any OTT viewer who is into comedy, drama, and family films. But if you’re someone who looks for strong social messaging and life-changing ideas, you might want to take a pass on this one.
Rating: 2.5 stars
Genre: Comedy, drama
Actors: Kriti Sanon, Pankaj Tripathi
Director: Laxman Utekar
Run time: 2hrs 12mins