A hard-hitting legal drama hit the big screens as well as my emotions really hard on March 17, 2023. Titled Mrs. Chatterjee Vs Norway, this impactful legal drama has been co-written and directed by Ashima Chibber. It features Rani Mukerji in the titular role of an immigrant Indian mother in the Kingdom of Norway. The film was released in Hindi as well as in my mother tongue, Bengali.
Mrs. Chatterjee Vs Norway (2023) Synopsis:
Mrs. Debika Chatterjee (Rani Mukerji) relocated to Norway with her husband Aniruddh Chatterjee (Anirban Bhattacharya). She has two children, a pre-school toddler and a five-month-old baby daughter. One day, the Norwegian foster care authorities deceivingly take away both her children. They alleged Debika and her husband of parental negligence, and said that the conditions at Debika’s home are not suitable for raising her children. Her children are kept in a Norwegian foster care home. Now it is up to Debika Chatterjee and her husband to pursue a legal battle with the Norwegian foster care system to regain the custody of their children.
Mrs. Chatterjee Vs Norway (2023) Official Trailer:
A Blood-Boiling Drama!
You are an Indian housewife residing in a foreign country. Some ladies enter your home and see that you are hand-feeding your child. Hand-feeding of children goes as per Indian culture. The ladies then tell your husband, who is at home sitting with you, that “Your wife told us that you do not take care of your children”. Your husband gets angry and starts having a tiff with you in private while the ladies are holding your five-month-old baby in your drawing room. While you are quarreling with your husband, you suddenly see from your window that the ladies are fleeing from your house with your five-month-old daughter. You try chasing them, but all in vain! Your little baby daughter has been legally taken away by the foreign country’s foster care system just because you have hand-fed her?! They then accuse you that the living conditions in your house are not suitable for your children. They even pick up your toddler from his school premises and take him away!
This is the true story of an immigrant Indian mother in Norway by the name of Sagarika Chakraborty. She and her husband, Anurup Bhattacharya, had relocated to Norway from India. And this is exactly what happened with the couple. The Norwegian authorities took both their children, their toddler as well as their breastfeeding baby daughter, just because Indian culture is against their ideals of parental care. Indians are used to hand-feed their children. Children in India often sleep with their parents even when they have reached a mature age. Even I myself, being an Indian, have been brought up like this. This means, had I been raised in Norway, their foster care system would have separated me from my parents during my childhood?
Upon seeing this legal drama, my blood boiled with anger. How dare they! How can they have the audacity to do such a horrific act of separating a preschool toddler and a breastfeeding baby from their parents?! This is completely unacceptable. You frame some weird laws in your own country regarding parental care, and you try to impose them on Indians who are staying in your country just because their culture is different from yours?
I must say, the screenplay of Mrs. Chatterjee Vs Norway was impactful. Throughout the movie, I was fuming with rage till at last an Indian judge gave me some mental relief. He united the children with their real parents.
Epic Performance By Rani Mukerji
The name of the actual immigrant Indian mother in Norway, on whom the story has been based, is Mrs. Sagarika Chakraborty. To protect her identity, the character of the immigrant mother has been named Mrs. Debika Chatterjee (played by Rani Mukerji). Rani Mukerji greatly matched up to the character as she did look like a Bengali housewife in distress in a foreign land. Her performance was compelling as well as emotional. After her children were taken away, the legal drama unfolded. She appealed to the Norwegian courts several times and was almost on the verge of regaining custody of her children when suddenly she fell victim to Norwegian politics. The Norwegian foster care system did its best to ensure that Mrs. Chatterjee and her husband don’t regain the custody of their children.
And what would you expect from the smart Norwegian authorities? They concluded that Mrs. Chatterjee and her husband were not capable enough to take care of their children, and so they handed both the children to Mrs. Chatterjee’s alcoholic and drug-addict brother-in-law. The Norwegian authorities are so smart that they felt that the drug addict would take great care of the children. Finally, in the end, Mrs. Chatterjee was able to regain the custody of her children from her drug-addict brother-in-law who used to stay with her abusive mother-in-law. I have to say, Rani Mukerji gave an epic performance as Mrs. Chatterjee in the film. Her expressions during distress situations looked strikingly real. In one scene, she even ran away with her children after stealthily picking them up from the Norwegian foster care home. But unfortunately, she was caught in her attempt to escape the Norwegian border.
Anirban Bhattacharya played Debika’s husband. By age, he is way junior to Rani Mukerji. He looked comparatively less bothered about his children, although it is a fact that nothing compares to a mother’s love for her children. His character can also be seen getting into regular tiffs and quarrels with Debika due to personal reasons and even due to tensions regarding court proceedings. The truth is, Debika had gone a bit crazy after being separated from her children, so the husband had to cope up with his crazed wife. Jim Sarbh played the role of an Indian lawyer in Norway who fought in the court on behalf of Devika and later fought against her. His character appeared calm and composed throughout, and had nothing much to say. Maybe that was the reason why he lost every time! Neena Gupta had a brief role as Indian External Affairs Minister, Vasudha Kamat who appealed to India to boycott Norway if the children aren’t returned to their real parents. I truly appreciate this decision made by her! Her character is based on the late Indian Minister of External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj.
The actors who played brief roles of Debika’s drug-addict brother-in-law and abusive mother-in-law, and also the toddler who played Debika’s son, carried out their respective roles pretty well. I was amazed by the height of the Norwegian actors who acted in Mrs. Chatterjee Vs Norway. They appeared to dwarf every Indian. The Norwegian women appeared so tall that Rani Mukerji only reached up to their waistlines! It is a fact that Dutch and Norwegians are some of the tallest people in the world and can dwarf even the tallest of Indians, including me as I happen to be of the average male height which is 6’1. It was not the performances of these foreign actors which amazed me, but their towering heights!
Sheds Light On Corrupt Indians
After watching Mrs. Chatterjee Vs Norway, I became familiar with more laws pertaining to parental care and parental negligence in Norway. Norway’s government gives a lump sum amount to people who adopt children! And that’s what made the flickering Indian mentality go corrupt!
There was an Indian-origin Norwegian authority who resorted to bribery. He made a plan with the drug-addict brother-in-law of Mrs. Chatterjee. The plan was that the brother-in-law would achieve custody of the children and in return, he would give the corrupt official 50 percent of the money that was to be allocated to him by Norway’s government after he becomes their legal guardian. Firstly, that authority did not cooperate with Mrs. Chatterjee and her husband when their children were being taken away, and in the end, he resorted to corruption! Corruption has a major influence on many Indians, no matter in whichever part of the world they reside. This is the main reason why India is still a developing country.
Mrs. Chatterjee Vs Norway was filmed between August 2021 and September 2021. The film was shot in Estonia, which is of course a different country, as I think the Norwegian government wouldn’t have allowed a film depicting its misdemeanors to be shot in Norway. A sarcastic fact is that Mrs. Chatterjee Vs Norway has become the highest-grossing Bollywood film in Norway! Maybe the Indians residing in Norway have really appreciated this film.
The Estonian landscapes are breathtaking, and of course, they will appear breathtaking to a guy like me who is used to seeing shabby and dusty landscapes in India. Maybe their landscapes are beautiful but the mentality of Norwegians is not! Jokes aside, the credits for the beautiful cinematography of this film go to Estonian cinematographer Alvar Köue.
Mrs. Chatterjee Vs Norway has been aptly edited by Namrata Rao making it a no-nonsense legal drama of 2 hours and 25 minutes. There are no loose patches in the film except for some emotional songs. The screenplay maintains a steady flow without any fluctuations making it easy to understand. And Ashima Chibber’s script and direction are splendid indeed!
Mrs. Chatterjee Vs Norway (2023) Behind The Scenes:
I didn’t pay much attention to the songs in Mrs. Chatterjee Vs Norway. The songs were not melodic and mainly focussed on the bond between a mother and her children. I feel that these songs have been put in the film just to intensify the emotional impact, although they were not so successful in creating an impact.
The Real “Mrs. Chatterjee”, Mrs. Sagarika Chakraborty Responds After Seeing The Film!
The Royal Norwegian Embassy in New Delhi has claimed that “Children will never be taken away from their families based on cultural differences described. Eating with their hands or having children sleep in bed with their parents are not considered practices harmful to children and are not uncommon in Norway, irrespective of cultural background. The reason for placing children in alternative care is if they are subject to neglect, violence, or other forms of abuse”. These are their own statements which they have issued following the release of this film. I would like to ask the Embassy people, then how can you explain what happened with Mrs. Chakraborty who has been portrayed as Mrs. Chatterjee in this film? Didn’t you people separate her from her children and left her fighting legally to regain their custody?
It is very easy to address something as parental negligence and separate a child from his or her parents. I would tell the Norwegian authorities that you first place yourself in the place of the immigrant Indian mother. If God forbids, someday you come to India holidaying with your spouse and some unknown people run away with your children in their hands and you would never see them ever again, that day you will realize the sorrow of those parents who have lost their children.
Indian Journalist Arnab Goswami Interviewing The Real Couple (Mrs. Chakraborty And Her Husband)
Mrs. Chatterjee Vs Norway is another film after Kaabil, which has angered me. In Kaabil, the blind wife of a blind husband was mercilessly raped several times which made her commit suicide. Her helpless husband couldn’t do anything to save his beloved wife. After she died, he miraculously avenged her death. God knows what superpowers came within him. In Mrs. Chatterjee Vs Norway, the five-month-old child was literally abducted from her home by some Norwegian women. Mrs. Chatterjee was shown chasing their car until she fell down in the middle of the streets. I would like to tell these European guys, whoever they are, that when Indians visit your country, you exercise your weird laws and start harassing them, and you don’t even spare children in the name of your stupid laws! And after you visit India and some hooligans on the streets misbehave with you, you raise a hue and cry? You are truly biased in your judgments, aren’t you?
Besides being judgemental, please do have some humanity for God’s sake! Please use your gray matter to understand that children’s welfare lies with their parents and not in the confinement of foster care homes. A tall and sturdy physique won’t do you any good. Your bulging biceps won’t matter. The fact is, in order to possess humanity and to be addressed as a true human being, you need to have bulging gray matter in your brain! However, if you deliberately want to harass foreigners in your country with your weird and foolish laws, that’s another thing!
Mrs. Chatterjee Vs Norway (2023) Review
- Acting - 9.5/109.5/10
- Cinematography/Visual Effects - 9.5/109.5/10
- Plot/Screenplay - 9/109/10
- Setting/Theme - 9/109/10
- Watchability - 9/109/10
- Rewatchability - 8/108/10