Mili Review: Janhvi Kapoor outdoes herself with an impeccable performance that leaves a mark

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Film: Mili

Director: Mathukutty Xavier

Star cast: Janhvi Kapoor, Sunny Kaushal, Manoj Pahwa

Bollywood Bubble ratings: 4/5 stars

mili

Mili Movie Review:

When I first heard that Janhvi Kapoor and father Boney Kapoor were collaborating for the first time for a film, a remake of the Malayalam film Helen, I knew it was going to be special. Firstly, it was their first team up, plus over the last four years, Janhvi has shown such an impeccable script sense that now I blindly can believe that if she has said yes to something, it must have something special in it and when I watched Mili, I was proved right again.

With Good Luck Jerry earlier this year, I thought Janhvi had excelled all her previous performances but with Mili she outdoes herself yet again. After the first half, I was left speechless about the power she possesses in transforming herself into her characters. I also felt a little sad for the fact that I don’t think this girl gets enough credit for her skills. Hopefully, Mili will change that.

 

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The film is engaging from the word go. Janhvi holds your attention from the first frame. Her bonding with her father played by Manoj Pahwa in the film is amongst one of the most beautiful father-daughter relationships Hindi cinema has ever witnessed. It’s not something like Piku, but it has its own charm and you will feel a warmth for the two of them. The way they care for each other is just beyond beautiful.

However, while I got the need of the love angle and I was happy with Janhvi and Sunny’s respective performances, the chemistry between them seemed lacking a bit of spark for me. They did put their best efforts to make it genuine, but just somehow it missed by a fraction for me.

While the first half of the film made me feel connected to Mili, her life and the people around her, the second half used that connection to bring out emotions in me. I felt her pain, anguish, her spirit. I felt the irk when something happened to her, I also felt a sigh of relief when she was able to survive a challenge. Throughout her time in the freezing cold, I felt like I was with her, witnessing her go through everything and empathising with her, wishing I could help, just without the low temperatures.

 

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Story:

Mili Naudiyal, played by Janhvi, is a small town girl from Dehradun who lives with her father and cares for him like a mother after her own mom’s death. She aspires to go to Canada for better job prospects and does a part-time job at a restaurant to help at home financially.  An unfortunate twist of fate leaves her locked in the restaurant’s freezer where she has to face freezing cold and many more challenges to survive. Will she make it out alive?

 

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Star Performance:

Janhvi indeed left me speechless, and its not just this performance but I feel like I am so impressed and proud for all the choices she has been making ever since her debut. With each role, she has just outdone herself. She is indeed emerging out to be the best actress in this generation, somebody who has the capability to follow the legacy that Alia Bhatt is creating. In Mili, the way Janhvi acts, you forget that she is actually a Mumbai girl as she imbibes the small town vibe completely. Her equation with Manoj Pahwa is heartwarming and her romantic arc with Sunny is almost rooting worthy. But as soon as she gets locked in the freezer, you are just hooked to her. She pulls you in and keeps you with her throughout. You just can’t detach from her and that’s the mark of a great performer.

 

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Sunny has a charming presence about him and you will find yourself attracted towards him. He delivers a credible performance, showing the potential he possesses. As believable his anger seems when someone troubles his girl, his helplessness is also as genuine when he can’t find her. The Kaushal genes reflect in Sunny quite clearly. I just feel that the film is all about Mili, and Janhvi has done such amazing work that even though Sunny did good, he just couldn’t stand out per say.

 

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Manoj Pahwa proved that he is a veteran and a legend for a reason. He has a playfulness in his demeanour when he interacts with Janhvi, his disappointment is palpable when needed, and the longing in his eyes for his daughter when he can’t find her just makes you feel his helplessness. He is truly a gem and I feel like he is at a place where he just can’t be critiqued.

 

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Other cast members include Hasleen Kaur, Sanjay Suri and Anurag Arora amongst others, and each of them play their parts to a T. You will feel like getting out of your chair and slapping the inspector, and that’s the convincing power of Anurag in his role. There is also an interesting cameo in the film, but I feel like that kind of derailed the film for me a bit, as it added a little too much stereotypical Bollywood touch, and I think the film was doing great without it too. Thankfully, it was just a cameo and even though I love and admire the actor, I was glad that it was over soon.

Music:

The music for Mili is created by AR Rahman, and when the maestro does the music, you know the project will be pleasing to the ears. And that is the case with Mili. While Sunn Ae Mili and Tum Bhi Raahi will make you connect to Mili and her world, its Jeena Hoga that leaves you with goosebumps, elevating the effect of the scenes in the freezer. Rahman has once again proved why is he a maverick and the impact of Mili increases a large part because of its music.

 

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Direction/Screenplay:

Mathukutty Xavier has made an impressive directorial debut in Bollywood with Mili. Having directed the original Helen, my main concern was him getting a bit lost in maintaining the balance between telling his story and modifying it for the Hindi audience, but he doesn’t seem to have that issue at all. The storytelling keeps you engaged. It first makes you connect with Mili and then uses that connection for you to empathise in her fight for survival. Mathukutty has brought out Mili’s struggle so beautifully that you can’t help but feel her pain and angst as she goes through it. I saw people jumping out of their chair whenever something happened with Mili on screen, and that’s the sign of successful work. I also really admire the father-daughter relationship he portrayed so beautifully. The screenplay is quite tight and you realise the importance of each scene and character as the story unfolds. Just a little bit of stereotypical Bollywood touch that comes in the second half, if that wouldn’t have been there, this film would have been perfect. But with it too, it was quite amazing and impactful.

 

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Conclusion:

Mili is a film that shows the acting prowess of Janhvi and it’s her show all the way. After the film got over, I was left with such a strong impact on me that I was unable to comprehend my thoughts. This is the effect the film will have on you as well. There are a lot of things people might think could have been done more or less, but it’s the journey of Mili, and I was invested in it and she made me feel a part of it, and that is a win for me.

Watch the trailer of Mili after the film’s review:

Also Read: Janhvi Kapoor gets applause from netizens for her performance in the Mili trailer