Mimi movie cast: Pankaj Tripathi, Kriti Sanon, Sai Tamhankar, Evelyn Edwards, Aidan Whytock, Manoj Pahwa, Supriya Pathak, Atmaja Pandey, Jaya Bhattacharya
Mimi movie director: Laxman Utekar
Mimi movie rating: 1.5 stars
‘Mimi’ begins with a childless American couple shopping for a surrogate in a Rajasthan town. It’s set in 2013, a time when the laws surrounding surrogacy weren’t so strict, so even as you raise your eyebrows at these clueless Yanks (Evelyn Edwards, Aidan Whytock) bumbling about, letting their canny taxi driver (Pankaj Tripathi) turn into friend-philosopher-and guide, you let it slide, hoping for an entertaining ride.
That the film has a clutch of solid acting talent — Supriya Pathak, Manoj Pahwa, Pankaj Tripathi and Sai Tamhankar — gives you hope. And the theme itself has an emotive pull: who does a child belong to, the woman who gives him birth, or the one who raises him as her own? The moral and ethical questions arising out of a surrogate birth are ones we are still unravelling. Nature, or nurture? The question never gets old.
But the film, released four days ahead of its date because of an online leak, struggles with keeping it real. And not just because leading lady Sanon acts her way through her role of many shades, but also because the film itself rarely feels believable. Sure, at the time there was a never-ending stream of foreigners descending upon India (Anand had become world famous for having turned surrogacy into a thriving cottage industry) in search of a surrogate.
But the clunky proceedings — Mimi as the initially reluctant-then-committed participant in this scheme, cooking up tales for her aghast parents, finding refuge with her BFF, a Muslim girl (Tamhankar), leading to supposed comedy — are a stretch. So are the accents, which keep slipping. The reason why they chose Rajasthan is clear from the first song itself: exotic Shekhawat, colourful dances, the outfits — Pahwa, playing Mimi’s father, is always to be seen in a ‘leheriya safa’, and Pathak as the mother, has a massive ‘maang teeka’ adorning her forehead.
At one point, the issue of possible disability raises its head, in a distasteful, insensitive manner: a Downs Syndrome baby is described as ‘maansik roop se viklaang’, and a doctor is heard saying that however much the parents may take precautions, ‘your child turns out to be disabled’.
Finally, the film takes recourse to melodrama, what else, to resolve all its dilemmas. As tears flow, chests are beaten, minorities are othered, ‘fair’ complexions are remarked upon, and a wholly contrived end finishes up things.