(Image Credit: Indiaglitz.com)
(Warning: This review contains Spoilers)
“The medium is the message” is a powerful phrase conceptualised by Canadian communication theorist Marshall McLuhan. In his pathbreaking book, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, published in 1964, McLuhan declared that it ought to be the medium of communication itself, rather than the message/s purveyed by such medium, that should be the primary focus of any examination. This is because, in the opinion of McLuhan, conveyances such as visual and aural media, influence a society by both their content and characteristics.
Laxman Utekar seems to have embraced McLuhan’s philosophy wholeheartedly. In “Mimi”, he juxtaposes ordinary humour with a prosaic story line to convey a very topical, sensitive and essential message relating to surrogacy and adoption. In 2002 India legalized the practice of surrogate parenting. In a surrogacy arrangement, a healthy woman carries and delivers a child on someone else’s behalf and in the process, gets financially compensated. In some cases, surrogacy uses the eggs and sperm of the prospective parents. The Delhi-based Sama Resource Group for Women and Health estimated India’s surrogacy business was worth more than $400 million a year, with some 3,000 fertility clinics across the nation.
Mimi (Kriti Sanon) is an effervescent and ambitious local dancer who harbours notions of striking it big in Bollywood. Plastering the walls of her rooms with actors and actresses, Mimi is just waiting for that one break, which alas seems to be eternally elusive. Bhanupratap Pandey (Pankaj Tripathi) whilst ferrying a foreign couple, Summer (Evelyn Edwards) and John (Aidan Whytock), learns that the couple are looking for a surrogate to conceive their child since Summer is incapable of childbirth. This leads Bhanu to Mimi. Lured by the prospects of obtaining a princely amount of INR 20 lakhs, which might ultimately pave the way for her entry into the portals of Bollywood, Mimi agrees to bear Summer and John’s child. She hides this arrangement from her parents who are possessed by a very traditional and conventional bent of mind. Claiming that she needs to be away for the shooting of a movie that would take nine months for completion, Mimi convinces her father Mansingh Rathore (Manoj Pahwa) and mother, Shobha (Supriya Pathak) to a accord reluctant approval to their daughter’s proposal.
Things take a nasty turn when a doctor’s report reveals that the child being borne by Mimi is in all likelihood suffering from Down’s Syndrome. Unable to reconcile the prospect of being left with a differently abled child, Summer and John flee India, leaving Mimi at her wit’s end. How Mimi, with the help of her friend Shama (Sai Tamhankar) and the resourceful Bhanu tackles this conundrum forms part of the major portion of the movie.
Kriti Sanon as the lissome Mimi, does ample justice to her role. Layering the exuberance of a carefree, optimistic and talented dancer with the muted and sombre prospect of an unexpected single mother, Sanon seamlessly accommodates the transition. Her initial encounters with Bhanu when he tries to get her affirmation for being a surrogate mother are exquisitely wicked.
The very engine that drives Mimi is Pankaj Tripathi as Bhanu. I reckon he has reached that trajectory in his career where if one was to direct Tripathi to just sit as a rock in a movie, he would make that ridiculous notion so malleable as to bag the best actor award or at least beget a new category for the best performance by an actor as a rock. In spite of a weak and wishy-washy script, Tripathi more than excels as the benevolent yet materialistic, accommodating yet scheming, endearing yet irritable, taxi driver who both creates perfectly avoidable dilemmas and is left to manage spontaneous predicaments.
Manoj Pahwa and Supriya Pathak, as may be expected, are at their usual effortless best. Sai Tamhankar as Shama, Mimi’s best all weather friend puts up a mightily refreshing performance. Evelyn Edwards, as the Hindi speaking Angrezi Mem does ample justice, and more to her character.
The genius of A.R.Rahman pulls at the heartstrings of the viewer. The man’s melodies are like an exquisite cocktail. You never know when the effect hits you! You are lazily wallowing in an almost symbiotic relationship with the damned concoction, and before you even realise it – WHAM! You are completely taken over. From the peppy “Paramsundari” to the poignant “Rihaayi De”, ARR dishes out a delectable fare of melody and magic.
Utekar brings home a few notions of personal viewpoints on a controversial topic or at least lends such a portrayal. For example in a scene where the doctor offers the choice of an abortion to Mimi, the prospective mother recoils back in absolute horror and disbelief. In so far as she is concerned, such a though is blasphemy even. She cannot be an ally in perpetrating a genuine homicide! There is absolutely no room for discussion on counter points.
Mimi, at the end leaves its viewers with a sobering thought and a telling message. At the end of the movie a statistic is flashed on the screen with the chilling words, “if orphans were a country of their own, the population would rank 9th in the world.” The Director also takes the trouble to enlighten his audience about the fact that more than 153 million children are currently waiting for someone to adopt them.
The time to act is NOW.