Mrs Chatterjee Vs Norway Review: A Powerful Rani Mukerji Performance, Yet Film Fails To Strike A ChordIt's more family than legal drama!
Why do we watch films or read novels for that matter? I’d say to discover stories and to sort of unplug and allow cinema to take us into a different world altogether. But for that to happen, the films we watch need to be good enough to allow us to unplug our brains from real life and just dive into the story. However, that is very tough when the film is either a remake or a story based on true events that we’ve already heard of. And this time Bollywood has given us a film based on true events instead of a remake. Rani Mukerji, Anirban Bhattacharya, Jim Sarbh and Neena Gupta starrer film Mrs Chatterjee Vs Norway follows the story of a couple whose children were taken away by the Norwegian authorities and put into foster care. It showcases the journey of a woman’s battle to get her kids back based on the true story of the mother who fought for her kids – Sagarika Chakraborty. It is based on Sagarika’s autobiography titled ‘The Journey Of A Mother’.
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The Story Of Mrs Chatterjee Vs Norway
The film scheduled to release on March 17 in the theatres revolves around Debika Chatterjee (played by Rani Mukerji) who loves her children and raises them in desi style while her husband Anirudh Chatterjee works hard to earn for the family. However, the cultural difference makes the Norwegian childcare authorities feel that Debika is not fit to be a mother and they take both her kids Shubh and Suchi and put them in the foster system on the grounds of improper treatment. The authorities claim that the mother is mentally unstable, the father does not contribute to childcare or household chores and there are complaints of ill-treatment of the kids as well as domestic violence complaints.
Mrs Chatterjee Vs Norway further showcases a mother’s battle to get her kids back. After filing multiple appeals in the court when nothing work in her favour, the mother reached out to Indian authorities seeking aid to get her kids back. Following pressure from the Indian government, the kids are returned but the custody is given to Debika’s husband’s brother. And even after returning to India with the kids, Debika is not allowed to see her kids and as a result, she goes on to fight yet another legal battle to obtain custody of her kids.
Also Read: Sagarika Bhattacharya Who Inspired Rani Mukerji’s ‘Mrs Chatterjee Vs Norway’ Cried After Watching The Trailer
This story is largely based on the original story of Sagarika Bhattacharya. Sagarika married Anurup Bhattacharya in 2007 and moved to Norway due to his job. The couple had 2 kids and both were Indian citizens as they were born in India. When Sagarika had her second child, her son began showing symptoms of autism and when the school teachers spotted the symptoms, the Norwegian authorities were informed which led to trouble for the couple as they took the kids away claiming the parents are incapable of taking care of them. This led to a years-long legal battle fought by the mother, Sagarika to get her kids back.
The Cast And Characters
Rani Mukerji has given us some of the best female-led films like Mardani, Hitchki and Mardani 2. This being yet another Rani Mukerji-led female-centric film is packed with a powerful performance by the actress. She perfectly portrays the role of Debika Chatterjee who is smart yet naive and equally emotional as she navigates through legal problems and fights a whole country to get her kids back. Rani Mukerji’s simply eased into her stereotypical Bengali character who stands alone in her battle to get her kids as she gets very little support from her husband who can’t think beyond his citizenship and in-laws who blame her for everything that goes wrong. The actress delivers an impactful performance as expected but fails to save the film.
Anirban Bhattacharya also delivered a remarkable performance as Anirudh Chatterjee, however, his character seemed very one-dimensional. He is shown as a man who loves his kids but is also selfish. His portrayal of the character makes you dislike Anirudh and while you may feel irritated by the character, he doesn’t make you feel for him as one ideally should. His character not only lacked buildup but also lacked depth. You’ll dislike him for his abusive, condescending, misogynistic and manipulative behaviour. He is very convincing in his role, but you won’t be able to completely hate him because there’s very little of him shown. The lack of character buildup and depth makes it tough to completely feel for him or completely hate him, leaving one feeling confused.
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Also Read: ‘Mrs Chatterjee Vs Norway’ Trailer: Rani Mukerji As A Mother Fighting For Her Children Has Our Attention
Neena Gupta has very little screen time but she swoops in like a saviour for a mother who wants her kids back. Neena’s cameo is touch and go so there isn’t much to speak about except for the fact that she portrays the role of a female politician who helps Debika. FYI, Neena can be heard repeating the lines said by Sushma Swaraj when she highlighted the case in the Assembly and asked the Indian government to take action to protect Indian citizens.
Jim Sarbh shines like the star he is as Daniel Singh Ciupek with his suave charm. Just when you dislike Ciupek for being cold, he shows empathy. The actor puts his nuanced acting skills on display making you fall for his very obviously grey character as a Norwegian lawyer. But if there’s a lawyer who absolutely steals the show, it is Balaji Gauri as Debika Chatterjee’s lawyer in India. She does not hold back as she fights Debika’s case with some truly epic punchlines that are nothing short of a dig at the patriarchal society and the injustice that took place in the case.
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Verdict: A Disappointing Emotional Rollercoaster
I’m rating this film 2.5 out of 5 stars. Now allow me to explain. While the actors have given their 100%, it is tough to ignore the lack of originality in the film. If it’s not remakes, its films inspired by true events. The plain and simple fact that everyone already knows about this high-profile case is not helping the film. It’s a story we have watched on the news and read in the newspapers. What more is the film offering you except some masala and leading actors? Nothing much TBH. Further, this film fails to do justice to the real story. More than showing the mother’s battle and resilience, it focused on Maa ka dil and the emotional bits but failed to deliver on that end too.
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Mrs Chatterjee Vs Norway turned the real story into a story about a mother’s love instead of a story of a mother who fought a country to get her kids back. The film does not do justice to the political and legal battle that Sagarika fought to get her kids back years ago. I mean, Norway took 2 kids who were Indian citizens and separated them from their parents which led to a political uproar. I mean, the Prime Ministers of the two countries got involved in order to repatriate the kids. And yet, this film fails to showcase that battle with honesty or do justice to it. Forget that, the film did not even manage to convey the fact that the kids were Indian citizens.
The director was so busy focusing on the emotions of the mother and the patriarchy that the real story got lost amidst the emotional rollercoaster that the film was. There’s no doubt that it was high on emotions, however, the film still failed to strike an emotional chord. There were several moments during the film when I thought I would start crying but the makers broke the flow and the moment every single. I mean, I was a second away from shedding a tear multiple times but not a single drop of tear was shed because just when I thought I would cry, the film would move in a different direction breaking the flow of emotions. Basically, you get very close to feeling for the mother but you never completely get there because it’s just an emotional high with no climax.
FYI, the makers surely went overboard with the Bengali culture and stereotyped the characters. NGL but I still haven’t gotten over Rani’s character eating Doodh Bhaat in a stereotypical manner. Even in terms of the dialect, there was so much being said in Bengali that as a non-Bengali, I lost track of what was happening on several occasions.
With all these problems, I’m sure you’re wondering why I chose to even give this film 2.5 stars. Well, TBH, the impactful acting makes it worth watching. Each and every actor makes their presence felt and delivers an applause-worthy performance. The actors bring out the emotions in the story and highlight the pain of a mother and her battle with shades of grey in the most beautiful manner. Yes, better direction could have made this film worthy of 4 stars but the performances and the emotional storyline cannot be ignored because of direction errors. Rani Mukerji, Jim Sarbh and Balaji Gauri are the highlights of this film and if you’re a fan of these stars, you should totally watch this film to witness them act in all their glory!
Directed by Ashima Chibber, Mrs Chatterjee Vs Norway is family legal drama. Produced by Zee Studios and Emmay Entertainment, this Rani Mukerji starrer is scheduled for a theatrical release on March 17.