Critic’s Rating : / 5
Mili Movie Review : A tedious survival drama
Review: A contemporary horror of sorts, it’s fascinating when filmmakers turn everyday life and situations into a terror playground. The premise is interesting but the circumstances don’t quite add up and events don’t stir up the panic and paranoia expected in a situation like this. Mili isn’t a thriller, but even for a survival drama of this nature, you expect pulse-pounding, clock ticking, temperature dropping tension that generates claustrophobic nervous energy. The film, a Hindi adaptation of Malayalam film ‘Helen’ (2019) made by the same director — Mathukutty Xavier feels relatively unhurried and even unworried. Fear doesn’t seep in even as the mall shuts, lights go off and the girl finds herself trapped in severe cold.
The remake floats between a single dad-daughter saga and a survival drama and works better as the former. The story takes a long-winded road before getting to business and tries a bit too hard to incorporate moral policing in small towns, pesky cops, roadside Romeos and more. It all feels tedious and stagnant with unexciting characters indulging in uninteresting conversation. The loopholes in the investigation for Mili’s whereabouts also stick out like a sore thumb.
Through her spirited performances in Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl, Zoya Akhtar’s segment in Ghost Stories and Good Luck Jerry, Janhvi Kapoor pleasantly surprised us with her drive to dive into unknown territory as a newcomer. Mili is yet another interesting career choice. However, the payoff is not quite the same.
Set in an enclosed freezing cold habitat, the film is Janhvi’s agni pariksha as an actor and it exposes the chink in her armour. More than her struggle to survive and escape the freezer (-17 degrees), you are distracted by her visible efforts to embody the simplicity and fighting spirit of her character, something that felt organic for Anna Ben in Helen (original film). Dressed in modest kurtis, as a ‘aap-hum’ Hindi speaking ordinary girl from Dehradun, she struggles to adapt and inhabit her surroundings. Manoj Pahwa is excellent as Mili’s loving and lonely dad and Sunny Kaushal is likeable as Mili’s boyfriend Sameer.
Given the space Mili falls in, you miss the character complexities here, something that Danny Boyle encapsulated in his gut-churning slow-burn ‘127 Hours’ or Rajkummar Rao portrayed in ‘Trapped’. Mili lacks the nerve-wracking, gripping intensity that is most essential to this genre.