UAE Review: Mimi strikes an emotional chord
Mimi tackles the complex issue of surrogacy, while trying to keep a sense of humour going. Don’t watch it for realism — watch it if you’d like to catch a breezy yet sentimental film with decent acting chops on display
There is an interesting insight into Mimi on Rotten Tomatoes. The aggregator has two ratings: the first is the one you can see on this page itself, the Tomatometer score, which is the critics’ (film reviews by media — mainstream as well as independent — houses) tally. And the second is the Audience Score. So, what is remarkable is how polarised the scores are. Tomatometer is hinged at 18 per cent; Audience Score, on the other hand, is 95 per cent.
Clearly — and ‘critically’ — Mimi is not really about cinematic finesse, but it has somehow managed to strike an emotional chord with audiences. I guess movies that delineate motherhood into a flattering showpiece always come up trumps, however trite they may be: you can’t go wrong when you are trying to raise a child.
While Mimi panders to the maternal quotient in a slightly exasperating manner, the film posits the Nature vs Nurture argument by factoring in the medico-social trend of surrogacy. An American couple (the woman conveniently understands Hindi, and speaks it fluently) come to India in search of a “healthy womb” since they have medical issues of their own. They zero in on Mimi (Kriti Sanon), a small-town girl with big dreams; she hopes to become a film star, and the American pair promise her a large sum of money that will help her move to Mumbai from Rajasthan if she agrees to “carry” and give birth to their baby.
Mimi, reluctant at first, decides to give in to the gilded request, egged on by her best friend Shama (Sai Tamhankar) and a taxi driver Bhanu (a brilliant Pankaj Tripathi); the latter stands to make some quick moolah himself, so he’s particularly persuasive. Mimi’s sweet but conservative parents are told she’s got a role that requires her to be away for nine months, a story that they buy.
Fairly late into the pregnancy, it is revealed the baby may have a medical condition, so the Americans, unable to deal with it, take flight, leaving Mimi to hold the baby.
The family and townspeople are now made to believe that Bhanu is Mimi’s husband, and a bunch of inane situations ensue, including Bhanu’s real wife landing up with his mother in tow, and the real ‘surrogacy’ story tumbles out.
Baby Raj comes along, blonde hair, blue eyes in place, and he’s absolutely ‘normal’ (the medical advice, it turns out, was incorrect). Predictably — yet amazingly — everyone’s okay with it now, and Mimi, the wannabe actress who’s in love with Ranveer Singh, morphs into a doting mom.
Then, of course, there’s the climax where the real parents show up and want their child back. Which is when the moral, and ethical, battle begins: does nature win, or does nurture?
Kriti Sanon as Mimi is not bad, but, as usual, it’s Pankaj Tripathi who steals the show (although he does seem overly melodramatic in the second half). Manoj Pahwa and Supriya Pathak have interesting roles but one really hopes they don’t get buttonholed into a quirky yet linear typecast.
The most interesting Mimi takeaway is the backstory of the casting. The child actor who plays Raj, Mimi’s non-genetic son, is one Jacob Smith, a five-year-old Scottish boy who was in Goa on a family vacay in 2019, when he was “spotted”. The Smiths stayed on in India for two years while the film was shot.