Rather than sensing her desperation, desperation, or extreme acts stemming from a mother’s primal need to protect her brood, what comes through is hollow theatrics, Sukanya Verma feels.

When you hand-feed your child, share beds, or have a superstitious ‘Kala Teeka‘ on the forehead to ward off evil were signs of poor upbringing, most Indian parents would feel unfit for the job.

Disapproving of foreign traditions that differ from one’s own is not uncommon.

Our first impulse is to discard rather than develop an understanding of another’s roots.

But when cultural differences are the only reason for something as horrific as uprooting children from their parents and fomenting an atmosphere of distrust and distrust, racism and western ignorance of the Asian way kicks in.

What transpired in the early 2010s is a complex mix of Culture ClashDomestic unrest and diplomatic intervention as an NRI couple in the Norwegian city of Stavanger tore up the country’s child protection laws to reclaim their three-year-old son and one-year-old daughter in a prolonged custody battle, forcing the Indian government to step in and sort things out.

Above all, it is a mother’s journey for justice, fighting tooth and nail reunited with their children.

Based on the 2022 book by Sagarika Chakraborty A Mother’s JourneyDirector Ashima Chibbers Mrs Chatterjee vs Norway has a dramatic story at hand. But in her need to tell it hysterically, she forgets to empathize.

God couldn’t be everywhere, so he made mothers.

Rudyard Kipling’s famous quote underscores the opening credits Mrs Chatterjee vs Norway Strides to paint a hyperventilating picture of motherhood being perpetuated by frantically chasing a moving car, pumping carton packs of breast milk and smuggling her children out of the foster home.

Instead of sensing her desperation, desperation or extreme acts resulting from a mother’s primal need to protect her brood, hollow theatricality emerges.

Mrs Chatterjee vs Norway jumps into action immediately when routine visits from the Stavanger child protection center take an ugly turn.

Without a word or warning, they set off from a quiet corner of town with the two young children of Bengali immigrant couple Debika (Rani Mukerji) and Anirudh (Anirban Bhattacharya). Sloppy eating habits, a run-down apartment, sleeping next to their parents, and late handing in of homework seem to be the problem.

In this drama co-written by Sameer Satija, Rahul Handa and Chibber, the problem is Mrs Chatterjee vs Norways lopsided view of things.

It’s always Debika against the world.

While Anirudh worries more about his citizenship than kids and is ready to throw Debika under the bus, Norwegians giggle full of cruellas and bald Bollywood baddies Schadenfreude.

Everything is neatly black or white – Debika’s family is soft-spoken and sensitive, Anirudh’s family is selfish, callous.

There is no place for someone else’s perspective or pain. Not even the poor children who lose precious time without their mother and father.

Between the casual abuse and constant embarrassment of the chauvinist half towards his wife and a country full of devilish cartoons allegedly running a scam in the guise of security, Debika must emerge against all odds as Mother India.

And if her melodramatic speech at the end against the tune of the national anthem is any indication, then so is she. Only if it were half as real.

Rani Mukerji is a captivating actress, but her shrill, screeching attitude doesn’t bode well for her character.

It’s a performance that feels like a performance all the time. Whether she’s mashing a banana in milk and devouring it like nobody’s looking or pleading “Judge Sir” in broken English, her theatrics are more suited to the Raakhee era.

The hodgepodge of awkward accents in his Hindi, Bangla, and English-enriched writing only adds to the choppy tone.

There is little to say about Anirban’s Anirudh being relegated to villain without really addressing why the marriage went wrong.

It’s depressing when real stories play out like fiction.

At one point Mrs Chatterjee vs NorwayDebika goes in search of her estranged child by happily rattling around with a box full of grains of rice Yaarana‘s Amitabh Bachchan in search of Amjad Khan in an asylum.

What’s in the news is well documented.

You want to know what was going on in her head.

But what follows are flashbacks to songs from happier times, while emphasizing their Bengali heritage in a cosmetic way – colorful Jamdani saris, Luchigovind bhog rice, pujo, sakha-paula, picture frames by Ramakrishna Paramhans, Sarada Devi and Swami Vivekananda. Norway’s big, bad Northern Lights make an appearance too.

Mrs Chatterjee vs NorwayJim Sarbh’s over-the-top proceedings take a breather in Jim Sarbh’s arrested attorney. His lovely thoughts on adopting an equally level-headed Balaji Gauri at the end of the fag are the only sobering, sane thing uttered in this cacophonous ode to motherhood.

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