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How Contemporary Movies are Dealing with Motherhood and Female Agency in Innovative Ways

There is no in-your-face agenda pushing or trying to convince the viewer of the so-called unconventional motherhood options. Here, the woman tries to gain control over her own life and choices, and even when this control through circumstances is pulled away from her, she manages to bring it back.

Birth is not only about making babies, it’s about making mothers – strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and believe in their inner strength: Barbara Katz Rothman

Netflix released a movie on July 26 titled MIMI, a story set in Jaipur, about a young girl who aspires to be a movie star and decides to become a surrogate to fulfil her financial requirements to move to Mumbai.

I expected it to be a light-hearted drama-comedy (dramedy) without much seriousness involved, given the recent movies we have seen Bollywood churn out. I was pleasantly surprised to find how delicately the concept of surrogacy was handles without sarcasm, societal crass standards and exaggerated drama.

Spoilers ahead*

Mimi’s Mumbai dreams lead her to surrogacy

The movie opens to a scene where a man is calling up a foreigner letting him know that he has ‘girls available’. Without letting one’s mind run wild, it is clarified within the first 10 minutes that this was a search for an Indian surrogate by an American couple.

They soon encounter Mimi (Kriti Sanon) who dances in shows and the couple appreciate that she is young and fit and thus consider her to be a surrogate. Bhanu, their driver, played by Pankaj Tripathi sets out to convince Mimi to accept this proposal so that they both get rewarded handsomely.

The decision to become a surrogate and how to cope with the 9 months of pregnancy while hiding from her family is shown quite seamlessly with a dash of humour. What is interesting is how effortlessly the movie sheds light on a women’s right to choose what she wishes to do with her body. Mimi understands that she is only the carrier of the child and there is no typical melodrama about how carrying a child is the greatest joy and cannot be done for someone else. She is clear on the fact that she is allowing herself and her body to go through this process as a means to an end. The end being that a childless couple get a baby and she gets the money to pursue her dreams of making it in the movies.

Of course, as a novice to surrogacy she is not aware of the mental and emotional aspect as those who have been surrogates perhaps more than once, but there is no unnecessary brainwashing of her decision or questioning her ability to decide for herself. Her friend played by Sai Tamhankar tries to reason with her to understand the gravity of taking on this responsibility but does stand by her friend’s final choice to do so.

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A movie that deals with so much more than the taboo of surrogacy

The movie takes a turn when the couple are informed by the gynaecologist that few tests discern that the baby has Down’s syndrome.

The couple, devastated on hearing this decide against keeping the baby and ask Mimi to abort instead.

The movie at this point beautifully depicts the awe and wonder with which Mimi looks at the boy when she delivers. There is no automatic switch that goes off for her with her maternal instinct kicking in as she tries to understand the emotional change that she is experiencing as well as the feelings towards the infant in her arms.

Over 4 years she raises the child as her own, and alters the course of her dreams to taking care of the young boy, that too happily, without emphasis on the sacrifices she made along the way – which of course exist but have not been focused on by the filmmaker. This non-existent narration of sacrifice puts more weight on Mimi as a young woman making choices for herself and standing tall pun intended.

The real kicker is when the couple returns after having watched a video of her dance with the boy on social media where he appears to be ‘normal’ and thus decide to come back for him.

What follows is an emotional journey of yet another decision Mimi is faced with – whether fighting for the child she raised for 4 years as a single mother or to allow the couple whose DNA made the baby to take him from her.

Toeing the line between preaching and having an open conversation teaching women’s rights

Without giving away the final ending though, what struck a chord through the 2 hours of this movie was how gracefully the topic of women’s rights to their bodies, surrogacy, adoption and the struggles of a single mother more so in an Indian society were highlighted.

There was no in your face agenda pushing or trying to convince the viewer of the so-called unconventional motherhood options. It was more of the woman aiming for having a control over her own life and choices, and even when this control through circumstances was pulled away from her, she managed to bring it back.

That’s the strength of a woman, right there.

As one woman says to the other as the movie comes to a close –

“You don’t need to give birth to a child to be a parent and you don’t need to have your own child to be a parent.”

Image Source: Youtube

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About the Author

Sonali D.

Soul centric and free spirited all the while living life through travel and adrenaline junkie activities. Counselling Psychologist and Educator by vocation. And a life and laughter enthusiast by heart. Usually found daydreaming about her read more...

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