Saturday, July 31, 2021

Mimi--a story about Surrogacy

 Although the word is out there, most of us have little knowledge about surrogacy and certainly not about the emotional turmoil that sometimes envelopes it.  "Mimi" (2021) gives a scenario that brings out a lot of emotions.  Recently added to the Netflix lineup.

 Set in India, Mimi is a young woman who dreams of making it to Bollywood, but realizes she does not have enough money to make an effort.  Instead she is a popular dance girl at a local club.  Bhanu, a taxi driver through some misunderstandings learns of an American couple, John and Summer who are looking for a healthy woman to be a surrogate and have a lot of money to spend on the effort.  Of course there are a few comical misunderstandings while he tries to explain the opportunity to Mimi, but she eventually sees it as her chance to get some cash for a serious assault on Bollywood.  Through her ignorance we learn a little about how surrogacy works and she agrees.  A little subterfuge is necessary to hide a pregnancy from her parents, but arrangements are made with some help from Bhanu.  She and Bhanu are getting paid and the pregnancy seems to be going smoothly.

The American couple visit the doctor in charge and are told that tests have revealed that the baby is likely to be mentally challenged.  Summer is very upset and wants out to the point she walks away from the deal suggesting an abortion would be appropriate.  Mimi is stunned and not sure what to do. She ends up going back to her parents who are upset.  They had been lied to and were humiliated at their daughter's condition.  When asked who the father is she points to Bhanu and says they are married.  Bhanu is already married and his wife and mother find him and more of the true story comes out.  In due time the baby arrives appearing fairer skinned than some expected and normal but Mimi's family is happy and supportive including Bhanu.  

Time whizzes by and a Facebook posting of Mimi dancing with her son catches the attention of John and Summer in America who promptly show up and want their son back, four years after they had abandoned him.   Mimi and her family are very upset and offering to sell cars and houses for a legal battle.  You know enough of the story.  There is a cutesy solution to the dilemma that makes an unexpected point.

Some may well feel it is too cutesy, but I feel it not only makes a few points, but will have most viewers feeling the emotional tensions at different points.  It is well done which enhances the effect.

"Mimi" is a remake of an award winning Marathi film "Mala Aai Vhaaychayl" (2011).  Another remake in the Telegu language was "Welcome Obama" (2013).

Dinesh Vijan was the producer.  Some of his productions include "Agent Vinod" (2012),  "Finding Fanny" (2012), "Badlapur" (2015)  and "Bala" (2019).  An earlier post covering "Bala" and its theme:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2020/09/indian-cinema-looks-at-baldness.html

Laxman Uteker, the director and co-writer had been a cinematographer including "English Vinglish" (2012) and "Dear Zindagi" (2016.)  He had some experience as a director, but this effort was his first script.

Akash Agrawal was the cinematographer.  He has been involved in such films as "2 States" (2014) and "Dangal" (2016),  A post on "2 States" http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2014/07/2-states-new-favorite.html

A R Rahman, Oscar winning composer wrote a few songs to help support the mood.

The casting director, Vaibhav Vishant has participated in a number of interesting casting decisions for such films as "Kai Po Che" (2013), "Highway" (2014), "Haider" (2014), "PK" (2014),  "Mom" (2017), "Super 30" (2019, "Chhichhore" (2019) and "She" (2020).  Some posts reflecting these movies:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2013/05/kai-che-po.html  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2015/02/haider-bollywoods-version-of-shakespeare.html  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2015/03/pk.html  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2021/02/super-30-puts-focus-on-education.html  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2021/03/chhichhore-is-for-losers-ie-most-of-us.html   These are links to some very good movies and I would add that anyone involved with casting decisions has both contributed and learned.

Kriti Sanon plays Mimi who ranges from a flighty woman to a woman who has to make a serious decision and then has to deal with someone wanting to take away her son.  Kriti actually has an engineering degree and got into modeling and tv. commercials.  Some of her films include "Dilwale" (2015) and "Bareilly Ki Barfi" (2017).

Pankaj Tripathi plays Bhanu, a taxi driver who gets involved with Mimi who is mystified why he sticks it out and he replies a driver doesn't abandon his passengers.  Pankaj has appeared in such films as "Agneepath" (201)"Diwale" (2015), "Newton" (2017) and "Super 30" (2020).  

Evelyn Edwards played Summer, the woman who couldn't conceive a baby herself with a range from joy to disappointment.  She was given a lot of lines in Hindi which may have been dubbed, but seemed very natural.  Her first credit was ten episodes of "Mad Men"(2007-2008), but was uncredited.  She has appeared in a number of films such as "Her" (2013).

Aidan Whytock played John.  He was born in South Africa, but had spent much of his life also in Singapore and England.  He was headhunted as a brewery salesman, but a love of theatre helped him get film jobs, at first in South Africa.  He had a leading part in one season of "Homeland" (2014). 

Amardeep Jha had a minor role as an older relative of Mimi's.  She is very good at playing fragile older women in such films as "Amal" (2007) "3 Idiots" (2009) and "PK" (2014).  

During the end credits they posted that if all the orphaned children could be put together in one country it would be the ninth largest in the world.  There are a lot of angles to surrogacy, but if you haven't given it much thought this film will make you aware and more understanding.

Note:  I have bolded titles of films I have seen. 

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