Mimi review

I am wary of unconventional sounding stories. They are usually the biggest spreaders of stereotypes. On the surface, Mimi seems to be about a strong, spunky, single mother defying social norms to raise a surrogate baby on her own but what it really communicates is that a woman’s ultimate gratification is dependent on motherhood.

It’s an important role, no question. But in Mimi it’s the only one she is allowed to play, which is ironic considering the titular character is an aspiring actress. Her celluloid dreams are nipped in the bud to embrace motherhood. Even her name, which sounds like Mummy from the mouth of a lisping child, is unsubtle in reinforcing the thought.

 

Exalted choices and moral flexibility are regularly exercised in the flow of sentiment. Earlier too, the contentious subject of surrogacy formed the theme of melodramas like Doosri Dulhan, Chori Chori Chupke Chupke, Filhaal and the Marathi movie Mala Aai Vhhaychy! — of which Laxman Utekar’s Mimi is an official remake — where the focus on the emotional repercussions took precedence over the legal or medical angles of such arrangements.

Mimi does away with the waterworks behind why a pair cannot conceive and cuts to an American couple (Evelyn Edwards, Aidan Whytock) womb shopping in small-town Rajasthan. ‘It’s a factory out there,’ the woman scoffs following a black marketer’s phone call. The uncomfortable truth in her words is never treaded on instead we are treated to a folksy A R Rahman item number.

Impressed by local dancer Mimi’s (Kriti Sanon) glitzy moves, the Caucasian duo propose a paid for-pregnancy for which she receives a generous remuneration and Pankaj Tripathi’s multipurpose driver, a middle man’s fee. Mimi’s best friend, a solid Sai Tamhankar, lends unconditional support to her and the movie.

Finalising furniture takes more time and thought than this but in Mimi’s convenient universe — where the only way to explain surrogacy is sugarcane and barren field analogy, parents (Supriya Pathak, Manoj Pahwa) dress like Rajasthani puppets and Muslim is synonymous with every Bollywood stereotype you’ve ever know — nothing comes as a surprise.

Just for the sake of obstacle, Mimi throws in a complication regarding the unborn leaving the voluntary mom to do all the rearing. I would have respected this sudden twist in the plot if Mimi had the spine to own it and not use it as a cheap plot device it has no intention of honouring. But just like her pregnancy montage, her disappointment too is chronicled in a lyrical Rahman melody.

Rahman’s songs are filled with soul, especially Rihayee De which sounds like Rang De Basanti‘s Tu Bin Bataaye doused in Enya and elevates the film’s ordinariness to work of depth.

Mimi’s overnight wisdom and maternal instincts are as hard to digest as is her concern over her perfect figure was easy to believe. As hyped up her ‘Devaki bhi tum Yashodha bhi tum‘ stature is, Mimi’s mom face appears only when she is threatened or defensive. It’s never a natural extension of her persona. One never gets a sense of her so-called struggle in society nor any memory of her ambitions.

Pankaj Tripathi has the gift of heft, which comes in handy when he has to demonstrate his decency and humanity as a man standing by Mimi. The foreigners get the short end of the stick but seem quite adept in the Hindi film school of rona dhona.

Despite wishy-washy characterisations and easy conclusions to messy situations, Mimi scores in Kriti Sanon. The actress wholeheartedly transforms into a picture of ambition and attachment. Finding joy in the unexplainable with her heart proudly over her head, Kriti makes you smile and cry through her unexpected journey. Mimi wants to make a mom out of her. What I saw is the birth of an artist.

Mimi is streaming on Netflix.

This review was first published on rediff.com.

 
 
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Hungama 2 review

Everybody talks out of turn. Nobody wants to listen. Few wish to come to the point. Fewer get to finish their sentences. Those who do go on and on about nothing in a roundabout manner. Misunderstandings, lies and interruptions drag out a moronic plot anybody could see right through in their sleep. But Hungama 2‘s three-point torture is simple — confound, frustrate and prolong.

When humour is testing the viewer’s patience for never-ending scenes of forced misconceptions masquerading as fun, it becomes agony. And Priyadarshan’s return to direction is stuff of pain.

The once prolific film-maker has made some funny movies in the past, but Hungama 2, which is neither a sequel to Hungama nor as tolerable, is a poppycock relic that cannot even produce a half smile forget chuckle.

Remember Juhi Chawla disrupting Aamir Khan’s engagement party with kids to announce he’s already married to her in Hum Hain Rahi Pyaar KeHungama 2‘s plot is along the same lines except the girl (a staggeringly stiff Pranitha Subhash) is not kidding. What was already stuff of parody in 1993 is palmed off as the premise with a dollop of Parichay and its brand of brats in need of disciplining thrown in.

A splendorous and scenic Himachal forms the backdrop of this yawn yarn where the lacklustre Meezaan Jaffrey’s accused behaves like a complete boor towards his ex from college and the mysterious baby she is claiming to be theirs.

There’s no respite from any direction.

Shilpa Shetty’s so-called comeback doesn’t get any meat or minutes. Barring her spiffy styling as the hot secretary and trophy wife of Paresh Rawal’s perennially suspicious half and cashing on the nostalgia of Main Khiladi Tu Anari‘s chartbuster Churake Dil Mera in a rotten remix, the actress has precious little to do.

If Ashutosh Rana as Jaffrey’s huff and puff dad struggles to stay dignified around such extreme farce, Paresh Rawal, who collaborated with Priyan on many memorable movies, has to contend with pigeon potty on his face.

Other comic veterans, Johnny Lever in an overdone Bong accent and Rajpal Yadav doing his usual muddled-up gig, fail to provide any relief.

Akshaye Khanna throws a token appearance as a link to the earlier Hungama. You really wish he hadn’t. He really looks like he hadn’t.

When a character cries out loud, Dimag ki dahi kar di, is perhaps the only time I felt the movie talking to me. Wonder how out of touch one must be with the world to imagine something this obsolete would have any takers?

Hungama 2 streams on Disney Hotstar.

This review was first published on rediff.com.

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Feels Like Ishq review

Feels Like Ishq evokes Modern Love. It doesn’t have the range or emotion of the romantic-comedy anthology series inspired by The New York Times reader-contributed weekly column but captures the idea of magical connection between two people over six breezy, half-an-hour episodes.

Given the overkill in anthology format lately, it’s a bit of a relief that Feels Like Ishq is more like a bunch of standalone shorts catalogued under a common header.

Most of these odes to serendipity are set in a post-pandemic universe whose protagonists are young, social media reliant folks hit by some good, old-fashioned sparks.

Save The Da(y)te
Director: Ruchir Arun
Writer: Monisha Thyagarajan

Radhika Madan and Amol Parashar kick-start the proceedings against Bollywood’s favourite backdrop — shaadi.

On discovering her BFF and bride-to-be AWOL hours before her lavish destination wedding in Goa, Madan traces where those cold feet must have taken her with some help from the obliging wedding planner (Parashar).

Through the course of their search in a swanky vintage Impala, the duo dart off some zingers as well take a peep into each other’s persona. She’s full of beans. He’s calm and cynical. I have crazy money; she keeps reminding him while glugging down tequila at every chance. Marriages are not made in heaven, he remarks like the classic by-product of a bitter marital union and yet chooses the same means to make a living.

Although these scenes are as predictable as the landmarks of Goa, the mood is fun and frothy. Radhika Madan and her Elaine Benesque energy is wonderfully complemented by Parashar’s perfectly-timed quips. Depth there’s none, but charm and chemistry in good measure.

Quaranteen Crush
Director: Tahira Kashyap Khurrana
Writer: Gazal Dhaliwal

Set in Chandigarh amidst the COVID-19 scare at its earliest stages, a teenage Sardar boy (Mihir Ahuja) readying for his boards finds himself crushing on the next-door-neighbour (Kajol Chugh) sharing his love for music.

When not sneaking off with his WhatsApp-fixated mum’s cell phone or receiving lessons on customer service from his lingerie selling dad, he thinks of ways to get closer to his paranoid padosan in the time of social distancing. Amidst stealing glances, shy smiles and tons of sanitiser spray, they jam from their respective terraces and forge a sweet friendship. Gawky, uninhibited fresh faces add to the authenticity.

But a little deceit is troubling our young man, which Kashyap’s affectionate telling of awkward, adolescent love treads on gently. Without making it too obvious she and writer Dhaliwal send across some relevant messages on good eye and intent.

Tahira’s significant other, Ayushmann Khurrana pitches in his composing and singing prowess alongside Sameer Kaushal and Jonita Gandhi to produce the infectious Punjabi melody, Mainu Ki Pata and enrich Quaranteen Crush‘s enamoured air to a pleasant effect.

Star Host
Director: Anand Tiwari
Writer: Saurabh George Swamy

A teenager (Rohit Saraf) saving money for a trip to see Northern Lights rents out his grand Mahabaleshwar home as B&B when his parents are away.

As it happens the guest from Mumbai, a young woman (Simran Jehani) who decides to arrive solo following a bad break up, and he start on a wrong foot but things get expectedly better as they go along.

She’s got all sorts of allergies. He forgets to appreciate what he has — a gorgeous view of Maharashtra’s majestic hills for what he plans to behold in Scandinavia.

As they learn the value of little things in Anand Tiwari’s scenic short film doffing its hat at many Hollywood rom-coms that is now the stuff of guilty pleasures, a glowing review feels like a natural summary to their interactions.

She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not
Director: Danish Aslam
Writer: Sulagna Chatterjee

The life of a self-conscious 23-year-old bisexual girl (Sanjeeta Bhattacharya) in Mumbai city is turned upside down the moments she lays her eyes on the sassy new superior (Saba Azad) in her advertising company.

As inspiring the latter’s proudly queer ways are, her sexual preferences don’t make her heart hurt proof, it’s as complicated and vulnerable as any heterosexual relationship. It’s a vibrant and endearing portrayal of LGBTQ and Aslam finds a subtle way of making it entirely about representation and yet still only about two people hitting it off.

While Saba Azad is a seamless mix of dynamic and damaged, the real joy is Sanjeeta Bhattacharya’s fizz and candour as she pours her heart before the camera and shares the details of her exciting romance like reading the jittery feelings of someone&’s personal diary.

Interview
Director: Sachin Kundalkar
Writer: Arati Raval

A super confident (Zayn Marie Khan) job applicant walks in at an electronics store and dazzles a fellow candidate (Neeraj Madhav) from Kerala with her incredible knowledge and ambition.

Eager to learn the ropes from her, they discuss tips over tea. What ensues is utterly feel-good and so, SO Bombay. The Maximum city’s acceptance and admiration for accent, mehnat and potential for rewards ‘baaki idhar sab ho jaata hai‘ are underscored in a modest but delightful fashion as they watch a giant screen unfold in 3D glasses where a great many things seem closer than they are.

The sheer optimism and goodness of Raval’s story, Kundalkar’s treatment, the disarming quality of its actors, especially the extraordinary Zayn Marie, bearing a whiff of Mr and Mrs Iyer and the realism of Ritesh Batra’s brand of serendipity is a cut above the rest.

Ishq Mastana
Director: Jaydeep Sarkar
Writer: Shubhra Chatterjee, Jaydeep Sarkar

There’s a nice line in Ishq Mastana: ‘I don’t do it to change the world. I do it so that world doesn’t change me.’ Too bad its ideals cannot match its cursory portrayal as the segment goes about debating privilege and activism around a lacklustre couple in a flimsy manner.

If Skand Thakur has a poor little rich boy quality, A Suitable Boy-fame Tanya Maniktala continues her looking at the world through romanticised eyes streak.

A protest forming the site for a first date is an interesting premise but Ishq Mastana, taking its title from poet Kabir’s doha, is far too happy in posturing to realise its actual merit. At the end of the six short stories, Feels Like Ishq is uneven yet watchable.

Like a hamper of bite-sized bhujia packets, some more munch worthy than others, the episodes reiterate the power of raw charms and spontaneous chemistry.

Feels Like Ishq streams on Netflix.

This review was first published on rediff.com.

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