Cast: Kriti Sanon, Pankaj Tripathi, Sai Tamhankar, Supriya Pathak, Manoj Pahwa
Director: Laxman Utekar
A woman’s life is barely her own. Her autonomy over her body is more often than not determined by the environment around her. Society, socialisation, economy and politics all determine the agency a woman has over her body.
In Mimi, a stunning 25-year-old dancer has the autonomy to make the decision to become a surrogate to fund her Bollywood dreams. However, her agency over her own body ends the moment the American couple who employed her abandon their plans. Mimi is then left to make the decision of what happens to her and the child in her womb.
While it is a little disappointing that we already see all of that in the trailer, the second act takes the film in a different direction. We see Mimi, heartbroken over the betrayal and the obvious loss of her dreams, decide to complete her pregnancy and after giving birth to the baby, raise him as her own.
Mimi, with its subject matter, is obviously an emotional watch. The film has a lot of heart. It uses its characters in a way to evoke emotions from the audience. However, that does not salvage it from its misses.
For starters, Mimi is written as a journey for the protagonist who matures with responsibility. However, it comes across as a counterpoint to ambition. While Mimi’s dreams might look too big to her parents and her society, they are still valid and legitimate dreams. But the makers treat her as an air-head with no real chance of accomplishing something. So when she has the baby, it’s treated as a blessing that saved Mimi from a failed career. It’s like ‘thank god the baby made her grow up.’
The film also tries to be woke but with no real nuance to the issues it brings up. It’s a criticism of commercial surrogacy, how foreigners with a lot of money exploit women from third world countries where surrogacy laws aren’t strict. However, it never really shows us how race can be a big part of this exploitation. The white couple gets its redemption arc. There is a lot of casual colourism in the film, given how Mimi’s kid is white. On the other hand, there are also undertones of white saviour complex, how the decision made at the end by the white woman decides Mimi and her son’s future.
Mimi presents itself as a woman-centric film. However, Kriti Sanon’s character goes on an anti-abortion rant, saying that if killing a child out of the womb is wrong, so is killing the foetus. However, by doing so, Mimi not only undermines the rights of women who have their own choice, but her fellow surrogates too, who are otherwise trapped in this situation.
Then there are a bunch of issues that are mentioned but not explored. We see a really skewed take on disability. Adoption in the film is tinged with the aforementioned white saviour complex. (Garth Davis’ Lion is a good film to watch on this topic). There is also an attempt to show religious unity, but they end up perpetuating stereotypes.
The actors in Mimi are amazing. This is easily one of Kriti Sanon’s best performances. Her hard work shows, but unfortunately she is limited by the writing. Pankaj Tripathi is as usual the delight of the film, and his character is the best-written by Utekar and Rohan Shankar.
Sai Tamhankar gives him a tough competition. But her character is pretty half-baked. Manoj Pahwa and Supriya Pathak are underutilized, especially the latter who in many scenes just cries while Pahwa is delivering all the dialogues. Evelyn Edwards and Aidan Whytock do enough with what they got.
In a nutshell, Mimi is a women’s film written by men. Having said so, it also has its own endearing moments. It is also quite funny in places, with certain scenes getting their punchline right. Watching Pankaj Tripathi interact with Manoj Pahwa and Supriya Pathak is also a delight.
Mimi dropped four days early before its due date on Netflix and Jio Cinema. No harm in giving it a watch.