Mimi Trailer!!!! Brings Up Many Thoughts on Surrogacy

Well, this is an interesting trailer! Ripped from the headlines of like 5 years ago, but still a story I am surprised to see onscreen.

Surrogacy! The complicated part of it is, carrying a child through pregnancy creates a bond between womb-owner and child. Ideally, everyone is aware of this complexity going in and talks through all possible situations and agrees on next steps. In many places in the west, this is what surrogacy is now. There are generalized laws to protect all parties, and a standard legal agreement everyone signs. There are essentially two nightmare scenarios. The first is that the surrogate falls in love with the child in her womb and does not want to give it to the biological parents. The second is that the biological parents change their minds partway through the pregnancy.

If there are legal protections in place, the standard is that the surrogate has the option of changing her mind at any point and raising the baby herself. Yes, this is horrible for the biological parents, but they have to go into it knowing this is a possibility. This is also why most surrogates are already biological mothers to one or more children. They know their body and what it feels like to be pregnant, they have a better sense of what it will mean to give birth and then not take the child home. And they have a better sense of the trauma/not trauma pregnancy and birth will bring on them.

I know a couple who had a surrogate baby, two men, who really wanted to be fathers and were from a tiny country where the idea of two Dads was unheard of. Their best chance was, while they were working in America for a few years, to have a baby by surrogate. They found a wonderful woman in California, one of the states with the best strict legal protections around surrogacy. She had already been a surrogate for another couple and had two children of her own. She was inseminated, got pregnant right away, sent them photos of the ultrasounds, called them once she went into labor, they took the baby home from the hospital and have brought the baby back to visit her a few times when they were in America. It went smooth as silk, but only because everyone involved went into it with clear open eyes about all possible outcomes and full legal protections.

The other nightmare scenario is that the parents will change their minds. That’s where the firm legal protections come into play. And also the maturity of the surrogate. The couple I knew, there was no way they would not be taking home this baby. They were mature, they had been together for years, they had nieces and nephews back home, they knew what parenting was, and this was their only shot. This was their baby, no question. And I am sure a mature older woman who had already been a surrogate once could see that just by meeting them. But even if somehow her instincts were wrong, there were legal protections in place. This was THEIR baby. After she gave birth, it was their responsibility just as much as if they were traditional biological parents.

Now, all of this is in places where surrogacy has been around for a while and the laws have caught up to it. All these laws and protections also mean a lot of messy waiting and time passing and stuff. You have to find a surrogate, you have to get all the papers signed, you have to know that the surrogate has the right to keep the baby after birth and run that risk. For the parents, there is a temptation to just get around all of this. Find a foolish powerless young woman, convince her to be a surrogate without fully understanding what that means, and then take the baby after birth without letting her know she had the option of keeping it. You can have a baby in 9 months, no waiting, no worries, almost no money.

Thus, India’s stringent surrogacy laws. Which are a new thing after a lot of horrible situations. India is a great place to find young powerless woman who will agree to carry someone else’s child for almost nothing, and won’t cause a fuss if you back out of the agreement/they decide they would rather keep the child after birth. I hate this, I hate this so much. I hate it even more because I know the “good” side of surrogacy. Why would you want to bring a child into this world with so much pain and unhappiness behind it? Why wouldn’t you do everything you could to ensure a fair and just and happy beginning to their life? India also has stringent adoption laws for the same reason, and I feel the same way about it. This is your CHILD. You can’t take a little bit more time and a little bit more money to make sure the start of your life as a family is clean and clear and fair to all involved?

And now, this movie!!!! Which is dealing with the dirty side of surrogacy tourism. A perfect rich white couple sees a pretty young woman and arranges with a broker to hire her as their surrogate. The broker and his female partner have a whole routine arranged for getting the woman away, through pregnancy, and so on. And then the white tourist couple casually change their mind, leaving this young woman trapped with a pregnancy.

Couple of things that bother me just based on the trailer. The first is that this young woman seems to be in a far better situation than real life surrogates might be. Loving family, well-brought up, educated, etc. She doesn’t need the money to live, basically.

Second is that the broker and his partner are seemingly innocent and kind of nice. In a vacuum, I wouldn’t mind that. But in context of the whole series of films that refuse to blame India and Indians for their own problems, it BUGS me!!!! These young surrogate woman are part of a whole system. Often their own families are the ones pressuring them into it because they want the money, and the Indian brokers are cruel in forcing them through the process. But in this movie, NOPE! White people are selfish and rich and uncaring, teenage girl is a little bit frivolous and unthinking, broker is just kind of funny and there. Nothing to see here, no massive systemic issues, just the white people shaking things up.

Okay, I have massively (and unfairly) over thought this movie based on the trailer alone. Now, you watch it and tell me what you think!

21 thoughts on “Mimi Trailer!!!! Brings Up Many Thoughts on Surrogacy

  1. I agree with you that they are only showing half the reality…not showing the sleazy Indian side of the industry…but I am fine with that. As an Indian, I am totally okay with Indian movies blaming all the problems on the white westerners…historically speaking white people have caused plenty of problems in India…plus Hollywood movies have a long tradition of villainizing brown people…so this movie is just a very small payback…

    P.S. As per my understanding the surrogate does not always have the right to keep the baby. If it’s gestational surrogacy (where the surrogate is not the biological mother – another woman donates the egg) then the surrogate cannot keep the baby. Most people choose this route for this reason precisely.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I just hope there is at least a nod to the reasons white people are victimizing Indian women instead of women from other places, even something like pointing to the limited options Kriti has outside of surrogacy. But this is just the trailer, it could for sure be in the final film.

      I am sure you are right about gestational versus egg donor surrogacy. The biggest thing I know about surrogacy law is that there is no international standard, or even national standard. So the laws could range from “surrogate has all rights” to “surrogate has no rights” and it is generally sucky. This is why I like it that Karan’s kids look so white. I translate that to meaning he found a surrogate in a western country where she had maximum rights.

      On Tue, Jul 13, 2021 at 12:17 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Karan did not find a surrogate in a western country. His surrogate was Indian and his children were born in Masrani Hospital in Mumbai. He just picked an anonymous egg donor that was white-looking.

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  2. I am looking forward to watching this movie. I love Kriti and I am curious how they handle such a delicate topic while still making it accessible to a broader audience without being preachy or too depressing. I have not seen the Marathi movie this is based on – Mala Aai Vhhaychay, have you? It is supposed to be a lot more serious, but I am curious how they compare.

    I think surrogacy is such a complicated topic, especially in India. This movie’s timeline seems to take place before the 2015 law was enacted banning foreign parents from using an Indian surrogate. In this particular case, I am not as bothered by the film not focusing on families pressuring women to become surrogates or corrupt brokers because, to me, the surrogacy market was so ripe in India because of the wealth disparity that existed and lax laws allowing foreign residents who couldn’t afford surrogacy in their country or did not want to abide by strict safety standards in other countries (e.g., no more than two embryos implanted at one time, provide for prenatal care for the surrogate, require an mental health assessment and counseling etc) to go to India and exploit the system (and the women in India). That to me is as egregious or even worse than the corruption by the Indians. Also, from everything I had read, for many Indian surrogates who already had children with or without their consent, this was one of the only ways to get out of poverty. According to multiple studies, Indian surrogates were paid $3,000-$6,000 in U.S. dollars per surrogacy (e.g., here is one article: https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-india-surrogacy/rent-a-womb-in-india-fuels-debate-idUKDEL29873520070205). This could be upwards of 15 years of income for some families. This is again an oversimplification because if money is the sole motivator and the full implications of the surrogacy are not conveyed to the women, are the women actually giving informed consent. The movie does seem to suggest that the physician is selling – or at least downplaying the implications of – the surrogacy to Kriti and that seems accurate to me and addresses some of the problems in the system.

    Additionally, in the U.S., surrogacy laws are complicated, and I don’t think it is quite accurate to say that “the standard is that the surrogate has the option of changing her mind at any point and raising the baby herself.” In the U.S., only a handful of states consider surrogacy contracts unenforceable and allow the surrogate to change her mind and keep the baby (https://www.creativefamilyconnections.com/us-surrogacy-law-map/). The laws get further complicated as they distinguish between a gestational surrogate (no biological link to the child) vs. traditional surrogate (surrogate’s egg is used).

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think I have still not seen a single Marathi movie. Mostly because they all seem kind of serious and depressing and that’s not my jam 🙂

      I am very curious how it will handle the tone challenges here! There is a way to do it that is human and funny and also understanding and emotional, but it’s probably a lot easier to do straight comedy or straight emotion.

      On Tue, Jul 13, 2021 at 5:24 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Sorry, I send the comment too early: I had this Marathi movie on my watchlist because it was on Italian Prime, and I’m always curious when I see a white face on Indian poster. Unfortunately Prime delated it before I could watch it 😞

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          • I have watched both Mimi and Mala Aai Vhhaychay last week and they are like two different films with the same idea in the centre. Almost everything is diffrent: the reason the white couple hire an indian surrogate mother, why the woman agrees, her life, the place she lives and the ending. And OMG but the boy who plays the child in marathi movie is the cutest boy ever. So nice and sweet and beautiful. The movie is worth watching just for him.

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          • Thank you!! I finally watched Mimi but haven’t seen Mala Aai Vhaichai. I’ll try to watch the Marathi movie this week!

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  3. This looks like a great role for Kriti, I’m excited for her. Pankaj must have his pick of movies now, I wonder what would make him choose this one over another? Besides the fact that it’s a lead and plays to his comedy strengths. And I guess is on trend? Are issue movies still doing well domestically?

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    • So far as I know, issue movies are still doing good. Domestically and internationally. You know, so long as they don’t actually threaten the Indian pride and stuff. Sigh.

      On Tue, Jul 13, 2021 at 10:32 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  4. You really went deep into the trailer. I don’t think I would’ve wanted to see a story about the true dark side of the surrogacy business, it would be too depressing. This tone works for me because I’m a shallow person!

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  5. I have watched the entire film and I think the concept is pretty unique. We do not have a lot of movies on surrogacy, atleast here in India. The director has tried to experiment with the film!
    A lot of people do not know about surrogacy, watching mimi will help them acquire the actual knowledge on the topic.
    Well, however it would be totally wrong on our part to judge the whites and their love for their children after watching this film. I am sure all do not leave behind their children and run off.
    Talking of parenting, Indian parenting has it’s flaws too. Check out our article that sheds light on the same.

    https://wordskraft.com/2021/07/23/when-school-mommies-united-to-form-a-whatsapp-group/

    #MyWordsKraft

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