Onto the next release of the weekend and Bollywood’s love affair with remakes and adaptations continues. With that I finished watching the new Hindi film Mili which is the official Hindi adaptation of the original Malayalam film Helen. Now I had watched Helen during the first lockdown and was absolutely blown by the screenplay of the survival thriller. It was amazing how the screenplay was tied together with the focus being on transitions. But moreover it was the performance of Anna Ben which had completely blown me. So when Janhvi Kapoor was to the essay the lead role in Mili, I was a little skeptical.
Mili is Janhvi’s third remake of her career, something that she should be self aware about going forward. But I do have a problem with the online trolls targetting her everytime. You can definitely criticize her performance constructively *after* you have watched her film. But to attack any individual personally(and that includes Arjun Kapoor too) is just not cool. Just because social media is known to empower people, trolling is simply unacceptable at any level. So the review here will strictly focus on the film and we at Popcorn Reviewss would never resort to it(and if you are a part of our small community, we trust that you won’t either). So then is Mili worth your time, stay tuned.
Story & Screenplay
An official Hindi adaptation of the Malayalam film Helen, Mili follows the story of a young girl who is trapped in a freezer at a store where she works at. Would she survive the night? The story is a scene to scene remake of Helen which is something I did not mind, keeping the creativities aside. And I say that because everytime someone tries to change the original source material for the sake of originality, you will more likely than not falter. One of the reasons that I had enjoyed Vikram Vedha too was because it was true to its source material. And with Mathukutty Xavier(director of Helen) at the helm of it here as well, the film was in safe hands. The screenplay at just over 2 hours seemed the apt length for this drama.
I was quite interested in the world building here and if it would have a similar impact to that of Helen. The good news is that the world building is good here despite having being set in Dehradun as opposed to Kochi. One small flaw was that I did not find the film rooted to the area where it was set in(which was the case with Vikram Vedha) but it did not hamper with the story that it wished to tell.
The first scene is a lovely metaphor of an ant getting trapped in a freezer which sets the tone of the drama well. Soon, you are introduced to the protagonist who shares a heartwarming bond with her father as also with her lover. This until in an unfortunate turn of events she gets locked in a freezer on a day where everything goes wrong for her. The drama ticks all the boxes for a survival thriller. It is tense, claustrophobic and always manages to keep you on your toes. The multiple subplots contribute really well to the story, one of them adding a a socio-political angle to it as well.
The drama stays true to its source material right from the beginning upto the end which means the makers did play it safe. And that is absolutely alright. Yes, if you have watched the original film then you would know exactly where the film is headed. The twists and turns are good here and they keep maintaining the intensity of the drama. The screenplay is watertight and expertly ties up all the events together making for a final act which is emotionally moving. But overall, the screenplay is true to its source material and well adapted.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are good but there are large portions of silence and struggle in the second hour too which makes the drama impactful overall. The music and BGM by AR Rahman goes very well with the mood of the drama. I was particularly impressed by the latter which did help in keeping you on your toes. The cinematography is really good with some uncomfortable closeups that would instantly make you feel clautrophobic. Director Mathukutty Xavier who had helmed the original film Helen as well, is in fine form here. He is successful in sticking to the source material and presenting an engaging survival drama which has your attention throughout.
The performances are exceptional here. Raghav Binani and Rajesh Jais have their moments to shine. Anurag Arora as SI Satish is intimidating and quite brilliant. Sanjay Suri as Inspector Ravi Prasad is assertive in a really well portrayed role. Hasleen Kaur as Hasleen has a great screen presence and she does a fine job here despite a limited screen time. Vikram Kochhar as Sudheer is in terrific form. Sunny Kaushal as Sameer is sincere and endearing. Manoj Pahwa as Mili’s father is incredibly good and just so heartwarming and effortless in his performance.
But it is Janhvi Kapoor as Mili who delivers a towering performance, the perhaps the best in her young career this far. She breathes life into a complex character even when she has very little to play with in terms of dialogues. Her performance may not be as great as Anna Ben’s but this is a performance that her mother would really be proud of! It brings me to think, actors like her do rely on good directors who can extract some great performances from them. So this is a thing which Janhvi could consider going forward too!
Mili is a solid and faithful adaptation of the original film Helen that makes for a good watch. Available in a theatre near you.