Rani Mukerji rips it off and the film slips on its toes – 1.5 stars

Mrs Chatterjee Vs Norway Review: Rani Mukerji rips it off and the film slips on its excesses

Rani Mukherjee Inn Mrs. Chatterjee v. Norway, (courtesy: zeestudiosofficial)

mould: Rani Mukerji, Anirban Bhattacharya, Neena Gupta, Jim Sarbh, Tina Tourite

Director: Ashima Chibber

rating: One and a half stars (out of 5)

A film that has its heart in the right place – or so it appears at first – should certainly be worthy of generous applause. Mrs. Chatterjee v. NorwayDirected by Ashima Chibber, No. Almost everything is amiss in the overwrought and tedious film, including the central performance by Rani Mukerji.

The soulful melodrama hinges on a mother’s anguish at being separated from her children in a foreign country. The movie does everything it can to portray the entire foster care system as malicious and compromising. The brazenly broad strokes do little justice to the story of a distraught woman pushed to the wall and left with no choice but to fight to be reunited with her children.

Mrs. Chatterjee v. Norway Based on a true story. One can fully understand what the aggrieved mother must have gone through when she faced a heartless system hell-bent on beating her into subjection. Sadly, the movie never quite rings true because it’s so obvious and subtle.

Debika Chatterjee (Rani Mukerji) suffers the consequences of doing to her children – a two-year-old boy and a five-month-old girl – what most Indian mothers routinely do through parenting. She is unable to understand why hand-feeding a child would be considered as force-feeding and would be used as an excuse to accuse her of being unfit to be a mother.

The film is primarily about a clash of cultures – the kind that immigrants often face in their adopted countries – and its unfortunate consequences. The heavy-handed treatment of the character test and his reaction to it turns his despair into farce. What could have been a sincere call from the heart turns into a shrill scream in the process.

The two women from Norway’s Child Welfare Services, who take Debika’s children in, are presented as unscrupulous handlers who give the Indian woman no chance to persuade before springing into action. Debika begs and screams but to no avail.

The writing has disappointed Rani Mukherjee, an actress of proven caliber. She struggles to hit the right notes. She goes back and forth between gruff and gruff. As a result, the essence of the character is never fully revealed.

When the 135-minute play, about an hour and a half long, settles into a more controlled tempo, Mukherjee gets into his act. But given the difficult circumstances that Debika’s story of perseverance faces in the first half, there is little left in the race to the climax to save the film.

The screenplay by Sameer Satija, Ashima Chibber and Rahul Handa is adapted from a Kolkata woman’s published account of her brush with Norway’s disenfranchised child protection system. It’s just too unsettling to be able to make the most of the story’s deep emotional core.

Unbridled melodrama is the preferred mode of the film, which takes away from the possibility of capitalizing on an inspiring real-life story. You’re obviously meant to empathize with Debika’s plight as she battles the forces that are out to crush her, but the way the film meanders through courtroom tussles on stage – in Norway and Kolkata – the character becomes a believable person. doesn’t develop as intended nor does his story move the audience the way it should have.

The film opens with Debika’s children being smuggled out of their Stavanger home in a government vehicle. She runs after the vehicle screaming. Her son Shubho, a boy with autistic spectrum disorder, and daughter Shuchi, a baby girl, are gone before she knows what has happened to her.

After Debika has been observed and questioned for several days and her methods as a parent have been examined by a consultant to the Norwegian government, Debika is told that her children cannot be left with her. Her husband, Anirudh (Anirban Bhattacharya), an engineer, appears to be helpful, but has way too much help on his mind.

The victimized woman is unable to do good by resorting to terrible desperate measures. The child welfare system cuts her down as she puts everything on the line in her efforts to gain custody of her children. Some of his actions seem illogical but make sense given his suffering. Why then is the film and the woman at its center unable to move us emotionally?

Debika’s actions are often at odds with who she is – an educated woman who has been in Norway long enough to appreciate the differences between her culture and the Norwegian ethos. Instead of showing Debika as a courageous and courageous mother, the film reduces her to a irritable, volatile and overbearing woman.

Such inconsistencies derail the two lead male characters in the film – Debika’s husband and Daniel Singh Supek (Jim Sarbh), an Indian-origin lawyer who represents her in court. It’s hard to figure out what exactly they’re going to get. One moment he is on Debika’s side, the next moment he is not.

Anirban Bhattacharya and Jim Sarbh are accomplished actors. His performance is markedly more refined than the film as a whole. But Mrs Chatterjee vs Norway is a Rani Mukerji show. She is the only star here. She makes everyone insignificant.

In a film about a woman fighting the good fight, the screenplay doesn’t give the other women in the story much at all. Neena Gupta has a fleeting cameo as an Indian minister on a visit to Oslo to sign the Indo-Norwegian deal.

The two mothers – Debika and Anirudh’s – are non-existent. The first is essayed by Saswati Guhathakurta, the latter by Mithu Chakraborty. Both are stalwarts of Bengali television and film but that doesn’t matter much here. One doesn’t get so much as a line, the other is reduced to an irritable mother-in-law who grumbles in a couple of scenes and vanishes.

Rani Mukherjee on her part rips it apart and the film crumbles on its own excesses. Mrs Chatterjee v Norway is an overheated case that sucks the air out of an internally moving story that deserved infinitely better.


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