Mili Review: Janhvi Kapoor’s film is an edgy survival drama but has weak first half

Set in Dehradun, India, Mathukutty Xavier’s Mili, headlined by Janhvi Kapoor is a remake of the director’s own 2019 Malayalam survival-thriller, Helen.

Khateja Qureshi | Published On: Nov, 4, 2022 | 08:02 AM

Mili Review: Janhvi Kapoor’s film is an edgy survival drama but has weak first half


Set in Dehradun, India, Mathukutty Xavier’s Mili, headlined by Janhvi Kapoor is a remake of the director’s own 2019 Malayalam survival-thriller, Helen. Revolving around the titular character, Mili (Janhvi Kapoor) is hardworking, focussed and a dedicated girl, who is extremely close to her father (played by Manoj Pahwa). She dreams to move abroad, but in the meanwhile works at a fast food centre to financially support herself and her dad. However, as fate might have it, one unfortunate night she gets stuck in a freezer and struggles to save her life, while her loved ones try their best to find the missing youngster. What happens next is for you to watch in the film.

The most strongest part about the film is its second half, because it takes you on a roller coaster of emotions, including fear, anxiety, patience, sorrow, guilt, and much more. So the majority of its high points are squeezed in the last approximately 60 minutes. What supports that plethora of emotions is the phenomenal background music created by AR Rahman. That is one of the most important elements of a survival-drama, and the Academy Award winning composer does complete justice to it.

DOP (Director of photography) Sunil Karthikeyan has canned some amazing shots, especially the ones filmed in the freezer, depicting the pain that the central character is going through. Furthermore, these frames are beautifully supported by Production Designer Apurwa Sondhi’s vision, which is on point with the overall flavour of the film.

The first half of the film, especially the portion where Mili’s life is drawn and described. Considering the genre of the project and the thrill and the mystery that it promises, the aforementioned narrative could have been trimmed down. A survival-drama needs to keep you on the edge, and Mili takes a while to help the audience reach that point. In the director’s defence, he wants you to understand the world of Mili before he lets you on her journey of pain and triumph, so that you can relate to her struggle.

Fair point. However, the screenplay of that portion could have been squeezed in a more appropriate time by writer Ritesh Shah, in collaboration with director Mathukutty Xavier and editor Monisha Baldawa. The overall length of the film could have also been brought down by 10 to 15 minutes. Furthermore, while the background music is brilliant, the songs also created by Rahman fail to make an impact.

Janhvi Kapoor’s growth as an actor is evident in Mili. Her performance enables you to relate with the agony of the titular character, which is a big victory for an artist. Her chemistry with Manoj Pahwa, who plays her father, shines on screen. Pahwa is effortless in his portrayal of varied emotions, and it makes one wonder if there is anything that he can’t pull off on screen. Sunny Kaushal in his limited screen time gives a sincere performance, while actor Anuraag Arora makes you feel hatred towards his character SI Satish Rawat, which speaks volumes about his performance in the movie. Sanjay Suri makes a small but impactful appearance. There is a surprise cameo in the film too. Watch out for it.

Overall, Mili is a sincere attempt but doesn’t create a strong impact. However, the performances, and especially the second half of the film makes it a decent watch.

Name: Mili

Director: Mathukutty Xavier

Cast: Manoj Pahwa,Janhvi Kapoor,Sunny Kaushal

Rating: 3 / 5