Mrs Chatterjee Vs Norway

wogma rating: Add to that never-watched 'To Watch' list (?)

quick review:

A story that shook your insides when you read about it, is told so clinically that you aren’t stirred a bit. Despite an earnest performance by Rani Mukerji. (Streaming Partner: Netflix)

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Director: Ashima Chibber
Cast: Rani Mukerji
Running time: 140 minutes
More Movie Info

When Mrs Chatterjee Vs Norway puts you right in the middle of the action in Scene One, you sense that you have a good two hours ahead of you. Unfortunately, that is not how it works out. In some sense, the first scene is the peak of the otherwise powerful and human story. In the movie though, Mrs Chatterjee’s struggle after the intense beginning gets a limp treatment.

What if it aimed at showing the struggle between the capacity of human beings to be mean and selfish versus their capacity to love and protect the ones they love?

Children being ruthlessly snatched away from their parents is a story that has readymade tugs to your heart. That the movie doesn’t once make my heart go out to Mrs Chatterjee is an issue of pace and narrative.

However, the inherent helplessness is not used by the screenplay. I suspect, in their attempt to not manipulate the audience emotionally or to not milk the situation into vulnerability-porn of sorts, the makers ended up distancing the audience from getting emotionally involved.

The protagonist is cursed with such an awful fate that she is surrounded by evil people, whether it's her husband or the ever-smirking Norwegians around her. The handful of supportive people either are as powerless as her or do not stay around for long. If it were not inspired by real life, I would have wondered why the writers were being so unrealistic.

In that sense, the pace can be blamed on reality too. The woman struggled for three years before that one day that she found relief. Similarly, in the film, things go her way in the last few minutes after a 2-hour fight against the system.

Fortunately, the film is not lacklustre for want of a good performance. Every shriek from Rani Mukerji feels justified and on the mark. At the same time, it justifies the response she receives from people, especially considering that they are all meant to be cruel and have an agenda.

Despite the dull narration, I quite enjoyed the side remark made by the film on the emotional labour involved in a homemaker’s day-to-day life. That it is a lot and that it is not considered as much by those not doing it. Especially, by an Indian man and his family. Though, I didn’t quite understand the necessity to have the national anthem running in the background in a scene towards the film's end.

That the movie doesn’t once make my heart go out to Mrs Chatterjee is an issue of pace and narrative.

As I walked out of the theatre, I wondered how the story would have been treated if it aimed at showing the struggle between the capacity of human beings to be mean and selfish versus their capacity to love and protect the ones they love. Yeah, that would be a different movie.

- meeta, a part of the audience

24 reviewers(?) - 9 yays 9 so-so 6 nays

Warning: clicking on "full review" will take you to an external website that could contain spoilers.

Thumbs up, by Subhash K Jha, Bolly Spice : ...Some of the episodes, like Rani’s climactic monologue in the courtroom, can be seen coming from miles away. But we don’t mind being emotionally inveigled just this once. It is a bizarre story told with grace and restraint. It makes you worry about the civil rights of NRIs in foreign countries, and for Indian tourism in Norway.... full review

Thumbs up, by Nikita Thakkar, Bollywood Life : ...BollywoodLife gives the film three stars. It is a good film that will leave make you think.... full review

Thumbs up, by Devesh Sharma, Filmfare : ...Watch Mrs Chatterjee Vs Norway for its sensitive dramatisation of a real-life case. And for the superlative acting displayed by Rani Mukerji, and the entire ensemble cast.... full review

Thumbs up, by Rohit Bhatnagar, Free Press Journal : ...Mrs Chatterjee Vs Norway is a compelling watch but if you are looking to suit your entertainment palate, then you might want to reconsider. Overall, its a decent film that is high on emotional quotient.... full review

Thumbs up, by Zinia Bandyopadhyay, india today : ...Mrs Chatterjee Vs Norway is not a light watch, but something that is compelling and emotional.... full review

Thumbs up, by JOYEETA MITRA SUVARNA, India TV : ...Since the story of the film is based on a true incident and Sagarika has wholeheartedly accepted the film, the story cannot be questioned in any way. Director Ashima Chibber has handled this emotional journey in a very sensitive manner but she left a little void in some things which should have been clear from the point of view of the audience. The execution could have been a bit better. The film is linked to the child welfare scam, But it has not been shown very deeply. A country that has such strict rules and shows no mercy in separating its children from their mothers. It would have been better if a little investigation was shown as to why they do this.... full review

Thumbs up, by Umesh Punwani, koimoi : ...All said and done, in the spectrum of displaying mothers’ pain in cinema, this one would continue to ache for a long time owing to Rani Mukerji’s earnest presence in the film.... full review

Thumbs up, by Sameer Ahire, Movie Talkies : ...Mrs. Chatterjee Vs Norway provides enough as an out-of-the-line and hard-hitting film, but most importantly, it delivers a fine human drama filled with pain and sentiments working overtime.... full review

Thumbs up, by Prateek Sur, Outlook India : ...The movie centres on motherhood and its challenges. It demonstrates how society's perception of the ideal mother varies by region and can sometimes cause problems due to cultural differences in today's world of widespread immigration. It also sheds light on Norway's lack of consideration and intolerance for cultural differences. The movie also sheds light on how some foreigners continue to regard India as a third-world country based on what little they see in the media.... full review

So-So, by L. RAVICHANDER, Deccan Chronicle : ...However, we live in times when narratives are accepted only when they are exaggerated and one-sided. I guess the filmmaker was at best making use of the shortcomings of the time.... full review

So-So, by Nitin Jain, : ...Overall, at times one needs to get un-entertained, with a story like Mrs Chatterjee Vs Norway, which had all the elements for a great story, but the writing spoils the plot.... full review

So-So, by Monika Rawal, Hindustan Times : ...Mrs Chatterjee Vs Norway remains a true-to-heart account of a gut-wreching story of a mother but there are so many layers you wish the director dug deeper and explored with the main character. Nevertheless, I was surprised in the end that such a strong and moving story waited for over a decade to be made into a film. Watch it for a brilliant performance from Rani and keep a box of tissue handy for there are plenty tear-jerking moments.... full review

So-So, by Alaka Sahani, indian express : ...Mrs Chatterjee Vs Norway is a story that needed to be told to remind us about the power of a strong-willed mother. But it should have been told differently without giving in to the tropes of commercial cinema.... full review

So-So, by Ambica Sachin, Khaleej Times : ...But what ultimately works for Mrs Chatterjee Vs Norway is that this heart-wrenching story of a mother who goes on a rampage to win back her children is not a figment of some Bollywood screen writer’s vivid imagination.... full review

So-So, by I wanted to feel more, or at least feel something,, Live Mint : ...I wanted to feel more, or at least feel something, for the anguish of these parents separated from their children. I wanted to root for Debika as she fought for the return of her children. Her lawyer describes her as a well-educated woman, yet she is devoid of street-smarts, casually forgetting homework submissions, unwilling to heed the counsel of experienced professionals. But for all of Mukerji's histrionics, for all of Sarbh's efforts, for all of Anirban Bhattacharya's submission to the director, it was hard to root for the Chatterjees in a film that has greater recall as a tear-soaked Bollywood drama than a recreation of a real life human-interest story.... full review

So-So, by Titas Chowdhury, : ...Mrs Chatterjee VS Norway tries to tell an inspiring and tear-jerking tale of the fearless and resilient Sagarika Bhattacharya but its ham-fisted and bumpy treatment stops it from becoming one.... full review

So-So, by Pratikshya Mishra, The Quint : ...The long battle that Sagarika (and in the film Debika) fought for her kids often went around in frustrating circles but since the characters around Debika aren’t well-written, what should’ve seemed like a suffocating maze seems more like a convoluted, long-stretch of road.... full review

So-So, by Renuka Vyavahare, Times of India : ...Amit Trivedi’s music embodies the spirit of a fearless mother. ‘Shubho Shubho’ tugs at your heartstrings. The film could have achieved a similar effect if it wasn’t for its populist approach and melodramatic execution.... full review

Thumbs down, by Rahul Desai, Film Companion : ...I am Afraid that if I spell it out, the flim might write me into its narrative as a grouchy Indo-Norwegian reporter who gets imprisoned for criticising the facts rather than the fictionalisation of facts.... full review

Thumbs down, by Vineeta Kumar, : ...The story of a mother’s struggle should have left you weeping as an Indian audience. A mother’s plea never needs anything extra to be sold to the Indian hearts. Underestimating the story is the most basic and probably the biggest mistake that the makers have done here. The failure of Mrs. Chatterjee vs Norway is that it is a forgettable film, with such an unforgettable real-life story.... full review

Thumbs down, by Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV : ...Rani Mukerji, on her part, lets it rip and the film trips on its excesses. Mrs Chatterjee Vs Norway is an overheated affair that sucks the air out of an intrinsically moving story that deserved infinitely better.... full review

Thumbs down, by Divya Bhonsale, NewsBytes : ...Chibber has left many loose ends in the film. Important things such as the domestic violence, Nandini (the one who tells Chatterjee about the foster scam), Sarbh's character's empathy for Chatterjee, her divorce, and why her equation with the in-laws went sour, weren't addressed. These elements play an important role in the story, which is why it leaves you a little puzzled.... full review

Thumbs down, by Sukanya Verma, Rediff : ...Mrs Chatterjee Vs Norway's overwrought proceedings take a breather in Jim Sarbh's composed lawyer. His fine thoughts on adoption to an equally level-headed Balaji Gauri at the fag end is the only sobering, sensible thing uttered in this cacophonous ode to motherhood.... full review

Thumbs down, by Deepa Gahlot, : ...When the film shifts to India, where Debika’s theatrics would be considered normal behaviour, she actually calms down and acquires the dignity that would have worked for her in Norway (not to mention the Indian audience). Jim Sarbh and Balaji Gauri. playing lawyers on opposite sides of the lawsuit, go by the established norms of screen courtroom dramas and bring much-needed spark to the film. But it’s too little too late. By this time, Rani Mukerji going at it like a soldier with a grenade has done the damage.... full review

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This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: Domestic violence
  • Language: A few curse words.
  • Nudity & Sexual content: None
  • Concept: Kids are separated from their mother by the state.
  • General Look and Feel: Slick, modern

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

Lead Actors:
Character Artists:
Music Director:

Comments (2)

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Dear Meetu, again a worthy review by you. The trailer was very promising, but looks it did not exactly translate to a GREAT movie. I may wait to watch it on TV for sure.

Yeah, good idea.

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