In Mimi, Kriti Sanon plays an aspiring actor from a Rajasthani town who find herself in a wholly unexpected role: a surrogate for an American couple. Lured by the promise of money and the assurance that she will regain her svelte form after the delivery, Mimi (Sanon) agrees despite her misgivings.

The go-between is Bhanu (Pankaj Tripathi), a rental car driver who initially misunderstands the conversation about “young and healthy girls” between Summer (Evelyn Edwards) and John (Aidan Whytock). After an explainer on surrogacy for the benefit of Bhanu and viewers hiding under rocks, Laxman Utekar’s movie explores the dilemma that ensues when circumstances compel the couple to abandon the swollen-bellied Mimi and flee to America.

The 133-minute movie, which is out on Netflix and Jio Cinemas, is a light-hearted and spiffier version of Samruddhi Porey’s Mala Aai Vhhahcyay! (2011). The Marathi film had poorer production values, louder melodrama and less accomplished performances, but it managed to better reflect the gap between the surrogate and her employers.

Mimi lives with her family in a house that resembles a boutique hotel and her bedroom belies her claims of being financially strapped. Sanon’s perfectly coordinated threads and impeccable make-up makes invisible the chasm between the impoverished women in real life who rent out their wombs and their wealthier clients.

Some aspects of the wider ethical debate around surrogacy survive this ode to motherhood. Although the conservativeness of the source material (Abortion? Never!) carry over to the Hindi remake even after plot tweaks, the American couple is better fleshed out and performed.

While Kriti Sanon turns on the spark, Pankaj Tripathi is a warm and welcome presence as the comical and genial Bhanu. Sai Tamhankar is underutilised as Mimi’s loyal friend Shama. Supriya Pathak and Manoj Pahwa are rolled in to pad a movie which, despite additions but accoutrements, remains thin on the more troubling aspects of surrogacy.

Mimi (2021).