Mili movie review: Janhvi Kapoor's survival thriller has a warm heart | Bollywood - Hindustan Times

Mili movie review: Janhvi Kapoor's survival thriller has a warm heart, chilling race against time

Nov 04, 2022 05:58 PM IST

Mili movie review: Janhvi Kapoor plays the perfect girl from Dehradun who gets locked in a freezer overnight even as his family looks for her.

Mili movie review:

Mili movie review: Janhvi Kapoor plays the lead in the movie.
Mili movie review: Janhvi Kapoor plays the lead in the movie.

Janhvi Kapoor has aced the art of selecting the right movies so early in her career. She has so far led a host of films that are simple in scope, but well made, and absolutely watchable. Same cannot be said about most of her peers and even a few seniors, who are still playing accessories to rowdy heroes and third fiddles in multi-starrers. Meanwhile, Janhvi is keeping busy minting a genre of her own: the girl next door who gets caught up in difficult jobs (Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl, Good Luck Jerry, Ghost Stories) or difficult situations (Roohi, Mili). The latest in the order is Mathukutty Xavier's Mili, a thoroughly entertaining albeit simple remake of Malayalam film Helen, and inspired by the real story of a girl who gets locked in a freezer. (Also read: Double XL movie review: Sonakshi Sinha, Huma Qureshi star in an empty, exhausting lecture masquerading as a movie)

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Janhvi plays Mili, with a BSc in nursing and dreams of working in Canada someday. She is the ideal daughter to her dad (played by the ever dependable Manoj Pahwa), chasing after him and his cigarettes when not licking through her IELTS books, romancing her boyfriend (played by the sweet and charming Sunny Kaushal) or working night shifts at a local burger joint. The first 30 minutes are spent on establishing Mili as the perfect girl who smiles at mall watchmen and visits temples daily. While it did seem a bit too sugary to digest, you mostly forget it once the latch to the freezer closes and the survival drama kicks in. And later, like a good, tightly written thriller, all the smiling and temple-hopping are shown to have had a purpose all along. Despite the delayed arrival of real, meaty action, Xavier doesn't seem to have wasted any frame on frivolous pursuits. The romance is given just ample room and so is the father-daughter relationship: enough to let it hurt when Pahwa breaks into tears at the fear of losing his daughter.

The scenes inside the freezer are even better. A massive fan looms large in the centre of the room, booming loudly and instilling the same dread as a monster baring its teeth in front of its prey. The entire geography or full length and breadth of the room are never shown, inspiring more confusion. The cold white tubelights are anyway one of the most depressing elements created by man and the icy winds help further in setting the mood for some literal chills.

As time progresses, so does Janhvi's excellent Smurfette-inspired makeup. Her blood vessels pop through her face, that become deep dark blue by the end. The injuries, the broken bones, the peeling skin are all enough to make you wince and sometimes, even scream along with her. And what was most important is that Janhvi doesn't overdo it with the 'brrrs' and 'ssshhhhs'. Her performance is contained and still throughly believable as she finds different ways to survive inside the freezer, fails and tries again. It is perhaps just in the initial scenes where she is preparing for IELTS and even her ‘gadbad’ English feels too perfectly messed up to be authentic. She can apparently speak perfectly well with foreigners in English but needs to see a book about how a cup cannot sit ‘in’ the table.

Great supporting act by the mouse.
Great supporting act by the mouse.

But all of this is easily and quickly ignored for the room you are asked to make for the warmth of Mili. Inside the freezer, Mili finds her own 'Wilson', in a rat she mistakenly let into the freezer the previous day. The two become buddies and pin it on some exceptional acting from the rat but it's all truly heartwarming for us and stabilising for a plot that really needed a break from all the frantic search for the girl and her attempts to break out. There are more wholesome moments courtesy a mindful guard, a diligent cop and a divine intervention by a Bollywood star's cameo. I will not reveal more on who it is because I appreciate how for once, a cameo in a Bollywood movie isn't plastered all over social media by the producers themselves ahead of release.

Mili is a fuss free, entertaining, simple and just thrilling enough ride. Of course, it doesn't have the lure of CGI spectacles, fighter jets, flawless heroes and glamorous heroines, it still deserves a watch.

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    Soumya Srivastava is Entertainment Editor at Hindustan Times. She writes about movies and TV because what else is there to life anyway.

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