Mimi (Kriti Sanon) is a dancer. An aspiring actress, she has ample following on social media. Her bedroom is decorated with photos of various Bollywood actresses and one big poster of Ranveer Singh. Mimi loves attention. She smiles upon seeing comments which compliment her as “hot” or as someone capable of setting water on fire (“Aag laga di paani mein“). That’s the reason her eyes sparkle when Bhanupratap Pandey or Bhanu (Pankaj Tripathi) says that he is a fan. Bhanu, of course, is lying. He uses flattery for his motive, which requires Mimi to become a surrogate mother for an American couple, John (Aidan Whytock) and Summer (Evelyn Edwards). If Mimi agrees, both Bhanu and she will receive a profusion of cash.
Director Laxman Utekar has borrowed the story from the National Award-winning Marathi film Mala Aai Vhhaychy! I have not seen the original movie, but Mimi‘s premise sounds solid on paper. It wields the power to ignite thoughts on parenting and parents. Is the real parent the one who gives the “tools” for making the child or the one who carries, delivers and nourishes the kid? Such profound questions never come to the foreground or hit you with the necessary weight because, in the hands of Utekar, the interesting premise gives rise to an okayish film. This is precisely how I felt even after watching the director’s previous film Luka Chuppi. There, an excellent screwball comedy was weakened by inconsistent beats. Replace “screwball comedy” with “comedy-drama,” and you can say the same thing about Mimi. But more than the inconsistency, the film suffers from superficiality.
After knowing about Mimi’s pregnancy, her parents – Mansingh (Manoj Pahwa) and Shobha (Supriya Pathak) – howl and cry and talk of their reputation in society. But this “society” is absent from Mimi. No outside forces interfere in the domestic proceedings. There is no gossip and judgmental glances from the people living around them. So when Bhanu informs the American couple that Mimi fought with the society, you don’t fully believe him. In Mimi, a word like “fight” is heavily sanitised and acts as lip service. You will time and again hear how our leading lady fought with herself, her dreams and, yes, society, but you won’t feel any of it while watching the film. Obstacles are not shown but are referred to. At one point, Mimi’s kid complains that someone in his school calls him a “safed bhoot“. However, the way this information is presented comes across as just another listing of another problem.
There is one terrific scene that explodes with humour. It arrives when Bhanu’s wife comes to Mimi’s house in search of her husband. Everything that happened up to this point culminates in hilarious confusion. It’s here that Mimi exhausts itself by using up every ounce of its energy. You can check out after this sequence. If you do decide to stay, you will be greeted with predictable developments. The American couple returns to shed a bucketful of tears and asks to take the baby back with them. (They had left when the doctor told them that the baby has a deformity. Now they are back as the child is normal.) I never for a moment doubted with whom the kid would stay. The one thing you should know about Mimi is that it likes to play it safe. Difficulties are brushed aside in favour of happiness.
But let’s come back to the Americans again. Bollywood is notorious for using cartoonish-sounding foreigners. They painfully speak in Hindi while we cringe at their accent. But this trend is changing for good. In Jagame Thandhiram, we had James Cosmo playing the bad guy, and he did a fine job. In Mimi, Whytock and Edwards fair well. Edwards’s shift to Hindi doesn’t make us wince. The duo also brings forth the pain of their characters. You see how badly they want a child and how they have suffered all these years yearning for one. Summer’s tears are not artificial; they carry the anguish of a desperate mother.
Another performance that surprised me came from Sanon. She never registered as an “actor” in her earlier films, as she looked more like a glamorous presence. As Mimi, she shines and displays her prowess as both an actor and a strong female lead. The movie may be all surface, but Sanon brings out the depth between the mother and the son. You actually believe she would collapse in despair if the boy was taken away from her. The change from a curvy, sassy param sundari to a protective woman fiercely hitting a man on a bike who was about to cause an accident is impressive. Kudos to Kriti!
Disclaimer: This article has not been written by Film Companion’s editorial team.