Surrogacy is a tough subject for a mainstream film to handle — balancing the demands of what many perceive as ‘womb renting’ while managing to entertain. From Mimi’s trailer, it seems the film has managed to walk the tightrope. Director Laxman Utekar tags the film “an emotional journey” of its lead characters Mimi (Kriti) and Bhanu (Pankaj Tripathi). He promises that the film does not attempt to break any taboos around surrogacy. “This film is an emotional journey of two mothers and Bhanu. We are not trying to break any taboo. It is a tale told very humorously. But it does explain surrogacy in a basic language,” the director told indianexpress.com.
Slightly disagreeing with the director, Kriti, who plays the titular role, believes the film can educate people in small towns about the concept, “I feel it can help to educate masses and break taboos in small towns where people don’t have an idea about surrogacy, just like how in the film Mimi had no idea but she is educated by Pankaj Tripathi’s character Bhanu.”
Watch Mimi trailer
“Films have a lot of power to change mindsets and bring about changes in society. It encourages people to start a conversation on topics that we don’t want to talk about or don’t talk about enough. When that happens in an entertaining manner, it leaves an impact, which is more important,” she continued, adding that Mimi has “a different message, which will impact you more.”
Kriti Sanon plays the character of Mimi in the film who ends up becoming a surrogate for a couple to fulfil her dream of becoming an actor. The actor, who made her Bollywood debut with Heropanti, called Mimi the most difficult role of her career so far.
“I always divided the film into two parts – A happy schedule and a sad schedule. The first schedule was easier because the only thing I had to do was pick up the accent and mannerism but in the second schedule, I had to put on 15 kilos to look pregnant from the face. Not exercising at all, stuffing myself even when I was not hungry and eating all sorts of oily food made me nauseous. That was a bit of a journey.”
It impacted her emotionally as well, “Also, understanding the psyche of a mother, especially when she is not prepared to be one, was difficult. She (Mimi) had so many dreams and wanted to become an actor. She believed in her dream, which is why she ends up becoming a surrogate to fulfil her dreams. So, when she becomes pregnant, there is a shift in her mannerism and in her journey. So, the second schedule was difficult for me emotionally as well as physically. But I was so passionate and obsessed about the film and the character that all of this felt satisfactory. It eventually paid off,” Kriti expressed.
The director said he and the team did a lot of research on Mimi’s subject and the character. “It (the film) is about a girl, full of life and dreams. But her life changes when she decides to become a surrogate. So, we had to work on her state of mind too because without knowing the pain, the process of how you feel during the pregnancy, the mental changes one goes through, it wouldn’t have been convincing on screen. We made three different bellies for Mimi (referring to Kriti). Normally a baby is around 2-2.5 kgs, for Mimi we had to make a 5-6 kgs heavy belly because with 2 kgs, she was walking like a tomboy,” Utekar chuckled as he recalled.
Elaborating on Utekar’s point, Kriti said, “Usually, in films, we use foam belly, which is lighter in weight. I had a choice. But I wanted them to give me 5 kgs belly because when I was walking, I wanted to feel that weight. It was helpful (to get the mannerism) but very exhausting.”
But Kriti’s move made Utekar proud. “She could feel the pressure, the pain of the character. When I see the trailer, I can see it has translated so well.”
When asked if it is difficult to make a light-hearted film on a serious topic, the director responded, “It is difficult. You can have an all-in-all comedy film like Luka Chuppi but in this film, there are intense scenes. But I think this is where the actors play the part. It is the cast’s support that elevates the scenes. They can make it intense and the very moment makes it extremely comical. For instance, in the scene where Supriya Pathak forces Kriti to tell who is the father of the kid. That scene is intense but the way Pankaj sir reacts to it, the whole emotion of the scene changes. It becomes comical. So, as a director, I didn’t do anything in it (the scene). I just said ‘action and cut.’ Writers too just wrote the scene but the magic happened between the artists.”
Joining Mimi on her adventurous and emotional journey is Pankaj Tripathi’s Bhanu. Mimi marks Kriti’s third film with Pankaj Tripathi. Their on-screen bond goes way back to Bareilly Ki Barfi, which was released in 2017. In the Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari directorial, Pankaj played Kriti’s father. Later, the two teamed up for Luka Chuppi.
In Mimi, Pankaj and Kriti share a relationship of a friend, a well-wisher. In this film, their screen time is comparatively more than their previous collaborations.
When asked if Kriti felt intimidated by Pankaj in any way, the actor replied, “He is not intimidating.” However, she admitted that she felt a bit scared when she was working with him on Bareilly Ki Barfi. “When I was working on Bareilly Ki Barfi, in my first scene with him, I was a little hesitant and scared because all of a sudden I was surrounded by him, Seema Pahwa ma’am and so many stalwarts. And this was a film that was away from my zone and was in this new world. But humari tuning baith gayi thi. Even in that film, we didn’t have many dialogues but even sharing a glance was enough for us and the audience to understand what are the characters talking about. So, it is then (in that film) when I found my comfort with him as an actor. I felt I could be free and perform without any pressure,” Kriti told.
Talking about her bond with the Mirzapur actor in Mimi, the 30-year-old said she “had a brilliant co-star” who was “willing to give more than I required or wanted as an actor.”
“I like to feed off the energy of my co-stars because, for me, acting is the art about reacting. It is always collaborative. Even if one person is weak, the scene can drop. A scene cannot be comical if the other person doesn’t react. So, with Pankaj sir, I got the comfort. Here (in Mimi) there is a lot more. Our on-screen relationship in this film is very beautiful. You would see how their equation changes and warm up to each other. There is a scene where I had to hit him with everything I have around me. We could pull it off only because of the support I got from him. He was very encouraging,” she answered.
Mimi is another small-town story, which have become something of a trend these days. What explains their popularity?
In response to the statement, Kriti replied, “It has been there for a long time now. Bareilly Ki Barfi started off the trend. Suddenly, a lot of stories from the heartland were coming out (during that time). I don’t think there is any sure shot way to make a good film. But we have looked at the West for so long that we have forgotten that our country is full of stories, especially in the interior parts. All these characters are relatable and it happens only because these are based on normal janta, middle-class people.”
“I come from a small town in Maharashtra. I am a son of a farmer. So, I think I can relate to what happens in a lower-middle-class family. I don’t know how a person living in Bandra or Juhu will react to a situation but I sure know how a person in Nasik will react. That is my observation and comfort. I would rather express or try to make people laugh through an emotion that I know of or can understand. That is how I look at the genre,” concluded Utekar.
Mimi will release on Netflix on July 30.