‘MILI’ REVIEW | 4 November, 2022

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Zee Studios and Bayview Projects LLP’s Mili (UA) is the story of a girl trapped for an entire night in a cold storage room of a restaurant.

Mili (Janhvi Kapoor) is a nurse by qualification but works in a restaurant which is located in a shopping mall. She lives with her father (Manoj Pahwa). Mili loves Sameer Kumar (Sunny Kaushal) but does not introduce him to her father because he (Sameer) is jobless. One day, Mili doesn’t return home well past the usual time which is late in the night. Her father complains to the police but the police inspector is hardly helpful. What happens thereafter?

The film is an official remake of Malayalam Helen. The story and screenplay are written by Alfred Kurian Joseph, Mathukutty Xavier and Noble Babu Thomas while the adapted screenplay is by Ritesh Shah. The story is quite unusual. The screenplay is reasonably fast-paced and, therefore, keeps the audience’s interest alive. Although more than half the drama sees Mili trapped inside the cold storage room, the writers have intelligently interspersed her suffering with scenes of the outside world — of her dad, boyfriend etc. searching for her. There are some nail-biting moments which keep the audience on the edge of their seats. Yes, the drama does tend to become a bit repetitive but it doesn’t slip into the boring territory because of the other happenings. Besides the scenes of Mili’s predicament, the scenes of the father’s anxiety, the boyfriend’s worry, the uncooperative police officer’s behaviour, the friends’ concern, the security guard’s revelation are all exciting, thrilling and even heartwarming. Ritesh Shah’s dialogues are extremely nice; those between Mili and her dad are very funny and sometimes, they are sensitive too.

Janhvi Kapoor acts so freely in the initial reels that it’s a delight to watch her. Her interactions with her father, boyfriend, neighbours, customers and colleagues are excellent. Her performance in the cold storage could’ve been better. Sunny Kaushal is endearing as Sameer Kumar and delivers a mature performance. Manoj Pahwa is lovely as Mili’s loving dad. Anuraag Arora shines as the uncooperative police inspector. Sanjay Suri performs ably in a special appearance as the good police inspector. Vikram Kochhar leaves an excellent mark as hub manager Sudheer Malkoti. Rajesh Jais lends fine support as neighbhour Mohan. Hasleen Kaur provides fantastic support as Mili’s colleague, Pooja. Seema Pahwa makes her presence felt in a special appearance. Jackie Shroff is lovely in a special appearance as the convict behind bars. Niranjan Asrani touches the heart as the mall’s security guard. Manohar Teli is terrific as senior constable Mukesh Singh. Raghav Binani (as Laddu), Deepak Simwal (as Vipul), Joginder Goyat (as Shyam), Azhar Gaur (as Mili’s friend), Shekhar Singh, Aryav Rathore and Manav Matalia (all three as Sameer Kumar’s friends), Khushi Hazare (as young Mili), Deepak Kriplani (as the doctor), Kavita Virvani (as Sameer Kumar’s mother), Lovekush Kundu (as Auto Romeo) and the others lend decent support.

Mathukutty Xavier’s direction is wonderful. He has not only extracted great work from his artistes but has also made an exciting film in spite of a story which gives him limited scope to play. A.R. Rahman’s music is fair but a hit score would’ve helped immensely. Javed Akhtar’s lyrics are weighty and in synch with demands of the drama. A.R. Rahman’s background music is appealing and impactful. Cinematography (by Sunil Karthikeyan) is extraordinary. Apurwa Sondhi’s production designing and Sugam Mehta’s art direction are of a good standard. Monisha R. Baldawa’s editing is sharp.

On the whole, Mili is a well-made film which is entertaining in a different way. It deserves to do well. Of course, its business will not match its merits — and, in fact, box-office collections will be poor — because of the general reluctance of the audience to visit cinemas to watch non-spectacular films and also because it is a woman-centric film, awareness about which is low.

Released on 4-11-’22 at Inox (daily 4 shows) and other cinemas of Bombay by Zee Studios. Publicity: so-so. Opening: dull. …….Also released all over. Opening was below the mark everywhere.