Auntyji on the ethics of cross-racial surrogacy

What Hindi film Mimi tells us about the politics of surrogacy and maternity

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Dear Auntyji

I don’t know if you have watched a Hindi film on surrogacy on Netflix called Mimi, but I have a question for you on this. So I watched this show, and over the Christmas holidays when we had a big lunch with the family, I mentioned this to my sister-in-law. I said I found the film charming and endearing – and I recommended that other family members watch it too. My highly educated sister-in-law looked at me funny and didn’t say anything – but I could tell she was thinking many, many things Auntyji, many, many things indeed. I found myself feeling slightly foolish, as though I had said something stupid. I don’t want to ask Priyanka about this – but can you please tell me what I might have said that was wrong? Any advice offered will be appreciated.

Auntyji says

Oh dearie oh. Where to start with educating you, nah, where to start? So the most important thing here is that you have a sister-in-law who, apart from being a thoughtful and intelligent person, is also sensitive and diplomatic. So she could see that you liked the film and being a considerate person, she did not want to rain on your superficial parade. So let me tell you exactly what your pyaari bhabhi was thinking, and you can decide what to do with this information.

So the film Mimi is based on the central premise of white people from rich countries coming to India and using its people for their own selfish needs and wants. So we have a white couple who arrive in India with the intent of finding a strong, healthy girl to act as surrogate for their baby – and their checklist for the surrogate is as offensive as it is amoral. It’s as though the surrogate was a farm animal for the mere purpose of breeding. Then, they decide that they didn’t want the baby after all – and then they wanted the child back. This film is a reflection of what happens in real life, and that’s why this film is neither charming nor endearing – because it reflects the politics of white privilege. This film borders on art – because it should have made you think. It should have made you question why white people from rich countries come to India for surrogacy – and how the surrogates are treated during the process. Essentially this film was a light and fluffy representation of the politics of maternity. And the fact this message was lost on you is why bhabhi was shaking her head internally in disbelief. Just as I am doing right now.

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