It seems that bollywood’s relationship with surrogacy dramas hasn’t evolved beyond chori chori chupke chupke. even as harrowing cases of abuse and exploitation surface every other day, surrogacy remains just another avenue for our movies to idealize motherhood. Director’s Mimi Laxman Utekar, the second with star Kriti Sanon after Lukka Chuppi, is no exception.
kriti plays mimi, a ‘fit and young’ woman in a small town in rajasthan. She’s not looking to feed her family, but she wants to be a bollywood star, a dream she feels could come true when an American couple comes looking for an Indian oven to bake her bun. Pankaj Tripathi plays the scheming driver Bhanu, who organizes everything. With promises of ₹20 lakh to buy a Dabboo Ratnani photo shoot, Mimi agrees to let the couple plant their seed on her farm. excuse the unnecessary metaphors, but this is just me preparing you for many more ‘khet’, ‘beej’ and ‘ganna’ references in the movie.
watch mimi’s trailer here:
A deal is struck, the cash changes hands, and Mimi becomes pregnant. Along with Shama (her friend of hers, played by Sai Tamhankar) and Bhanu, Mimi finds ways to hide her secret from her parents (played by Manoj Pahwa and Supriya Pathak). everyone makes attempts at comedy, from pankaj tripathi to manoj pahwa, but with unimpressive writing, no one manages to tickle the funny bone. the lies and secrets cause a great deal of confusion in the film, but never any entertainment for those who watch it unfold. and no, silly background music and whistles are not golden comedy.
Luckily for us, things get a little less annoying when tragedy strikes. but the American couple suddenly decides to cancel their order but the package is already in transit. the best thing for them now is just a ghost of their delivery man, our very pregnant mimi. Helpless and with a very complicated story behind her swollen belly, she lies to her screaming mother and her disappointed father that the child belongs to bhanu. Surprisingly, they’re actually more forward-thinking than the many stylish parents she dresses in the Indian matchup.
There is more tenderness and chaos with the birth of the white baby and, even more incredible, the small town of rajasthan just accepts it. Kriti Sanon can’t convince anyone of her Rajasthani origins, not with her butterscotch Bollywood highlights or an accent that jumps from South Delhi to Jaipur three times in every scene. but there are times when he understands that ‘less is more’. for example, when mimi holds her baby for the first time, the camera stops on her face and a single tear runs down her cheek. there is no excessive crying or joyful laughter. just a moment of realizing that her life will never be the same. the attempt at simplicity felt even more refreshing considering how we saw her covering her face with talcum powder as she dramatically screamed in the mirror a few minutes ago.
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as common as mimi may be, what makes it even more disappointing is utekar’s unwillingness to do more with the powerful theme. As much as I appreciate wholesome characters and a near-flawless world on my screen, maybe going that route for something that can be decidedly unwholesome in real life wasn’t the best choice. women and their bodies are used and discarded by upper class men and women with little responsibility, all over the country. and usually their experiences are less brilliant than mimi’s dreams of a house in juhu or a viral t-series music video.
In the opening scene, in the office of a substitute “dealer,” three frail-looking women sit on a bench in a dark and dreary office. The dealer tells our future American father that he has a new stock of girls just for him. perhaps his stories also deserve to be told. perhaps we’ve seen enough preity zintas or kriti sanons luring would-be parents with their dancing skills.
director: laxman utekar
Cast: Kriti Sanon, Pankaj Tripathi, Manoj Pahwa, Sai Tamhankar