Mili Review: Found – Janhvi, a performer.
Janhvi Kapoor impresses in Mathukutty Xavier’s survival thriller Mili. The film is released in cinemas.
Mili directed by Mathukutty Xavier is the official remake of the Malayalam survival thriller Helen (2019) by the same director. Janhvi Kapoor plays the role originally essayed by Anna Ben. I haven’t watched the original so I have got nothing to compare. Which can be a good thing on most days. You can review a film for what you see and not compare it with something you have already watched. In that regard, I liked what I saw in Mili – the film and the actor playing the character.
Whenever I see Janhvi Kapoor, the title of Nicolas Cage’s movie The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent comes to my mind. In Janhvi’s case she must be carrying the weight of her late mother Sridevi’s massive talent. The daughter’s beginning of career is compared with the filmography of her mother that features close to 300 films. If you see her recent Interviews, you can notice a genuine, serious effort to work on her craft beginning with choosing to speak in Hindi (and get rid of the south Indian accent) at public events. Janhvi was forgettable in her first few films. Even Zoya Akhtar had to make her a South Indian caretaker to get around her heavy accent in an impressive anthology, Ghost Stories.
Also read: Double XL Review: Double XL in intention, falls Short in execution
In Mili, the young actress turns in a good performance. Mili Naudiyal is a nurse from Dehradun trying to relocate to Canada for better career prospects. Mili works part-time at Doon’s Kitchen after her studies to support her Canada ambition. She’s trying to get her father (Manoj Pahwa) to quit cigarettes. Trying to convince her boyfriend Sameer (Sunny Kaushal) to get a job so that she can introduce him to her father. But one day, things take an ugly turn when she doesn’t return from work and disappears? Reason? She gets locked in the store’s freezer. The temperature of which drops to -18 degree celsius as we see.
Director Mathukutty Xavier takes his time to carefully craft act one and act two so that he doesn’t have to wrap up act three in a haphazard manner. Most Hindi thrillers that I have seen lately have struggled with the third act. The film has a slow burn effect, which I liked. Xavier prolongs the search of Mili at a natural pace, as it would happen in reality. He doesn’t indulge in unnecessary twists and turns.
Also read: Sunny Singh talks about his next film The Var Gin Tree
The screenplay unfolds swiftly and is aided with good dialogue. The film scores points on editing, sound design, production design, and cinematography as well. On the acting front, Janhvi’s performance is well-rehearsed but doesn’t look like an effort is being made. While trying to survive in the freezer, she does all the heavy lifting – both literal (stops the AC fans, makes an igloo of cardboards, finds food etc.) and figurative (the weight of the film is on her shoulders).
As for other actors, the ever dependable Manoj Pahwa is effortless as Mili’s father. Sunny Kaushal is sincere as Mili’s boyfriend. Vikram Kochhar is fun to watch as the Doon’s Kitchen manager. Sanjay Suri and Jackie Shroff make surprising cameo appearances. Mili can be watched for its thrills and chills.