Sneha Jaiswal (Twitter | Instagram)
Directed by Ashima Chibber, the 2023 Bollywood movie “Mrs Chatterjee vs. Norway” seems like a movie about a mother fighting to get back her kids, while in reality, it’s about a woman fighting practically everybody in her life for what is rightfully hers. Rani Mukerji plays Debika Chatterjee, a Bengali homemaker living with her husband and two kids abroad. Rani Mukerji portrays Debika Chatterjee, a Bengali homemaker residing abroad with her husband and two kids. Her world shatters when social workers covertly remove her baby girl and toddler son from her house. What ensues is a lengthy legal battle, where Mrs. Chatterjee faces constant vilification. Nevertheless, each setback fuels her determination to reunite with her children.
Loosely inspired by a real-life case, “Mrs. Chatterjee vs. Norway” could have benefited from a more fitting title, as Debika’s true battle commences within her own home. Though it may initially seem that Debika’s family is unjustly targeted by child protection services, who stand to profit financially from placing children in foster care, viewers also learn that the Chatterjees draw scrutiny after their friends report Anniruddha Chatterjee (Anirban Bhattacharya) for assaulting Debika. It is frustrating how the script downplays the role of domestic violence in the case. Debika is wronged by her husband, in-laws, social workers, lawyers, media, and even her parents, who passively stand by when Anniruddha mistreats her.
Jim Sarbh delivers a measured performance as Daniel Singh Ciupek, the lawyer fighting for the Chatterjees. Unfortunately, all the other Norwegian characters are too one-dimensional and farcical to make viewers care about their actions and cinematic smirks. And if the “firangs” are underwhelming, Rani Mukerji overdoes the theatrics of an emotional Indian mom like she is in some 1990s soap-opera. There’s one scene, where she video calls her father and breaks down, the outburst was so jarring, it looked like a good example for “crocodile tears”. However, she does manage to tug at the heartstrings by the end of the film and her ordeal will hit a chord with viewers. Nevertheless, the filmmakers overly rely on Rani to carry the weight of the entire production on her shoulders.
It’s a 6 on 10 from me. Stream the film on Netflix.