The makers of Rani Mukerji’s film Mrs Chatterjee vs Norway has reacted to the Norwegian ambassador to India Hans Jacob Frydenlund’s op-ed in a leading daily and his less than favourable review of the film. Producer Nikkhil Advani took to Twitter to share what actually happened at the film’s screening where Frydenlund was invited. He said that the ambassador ‘admonished’ two strong women after the show who chose to tell this very important story. He did not elaborate on the 'two women' but going by the picture shared it looks like producers Madhu Bhojwani and Monisha Advani.
Taking to Twitter, Nikkhil wrote, “Atithi Devo Bhava! is a cultural mandate in India. Every Indian is taught that by our elders. Last evening we hosted the Norwegian Ambassador and volunteered to show him our film Mrs Chatterjee vs Norway. Post the screening, I sat quietly watching him admonish two strong women who have chosen to tell this very important story. I was quiet because just like Sagarika Chakraborty, they don't need me to fight for them and ‘culturally’ we do not insult our guests. As far as a clarification is concerned. Video Attached.”
#DeshKaMatter https://t.co/wq4LmOP2Zc pic.twitter.com/sXIOAK09el
— Nikkhil Advani (@nikkhiladvani) March 17, 2023
RECOMMENDED READ: Norwegian government officials watch Rani Mukerji's Mrs. Chatterjee Vs Norway with director Ashima Chibber and producer Monisha Advani
The attached video in his tweet featured Sagarika Chakraborty, on whose life the film is based and who fought for her own children’s custody against the Norwegian government over a decade ago. Sagarika, in the video said that the ambassador spoke about her case ‘without having any decency’ to speak with her first and alleged that the Norwegian government ‘continues to spread lies’ about her. Nikkhil also attached a picture of the ambassador with the film’s team from the screening.
Frydenlund in his op-ed wrote that the film has ‘factual inaccuracies’ and the story is a ‘fictional representation of the case’ but failed to furnish any substantial proofs on how it was so, since Sagarika’s case had gained widespread national attention and media scrutiny. He also said that in the film ‘cultural differences’ have been shown as the primary factor in the case, which is ‘completely false’ and ‘categorically’ denied that ‘feeding with hands and sleeping in the same bed would be the reason for placing in alternative care’. Lastly, he hoped that the film will not discourage Indians from going and settling in Norway. Despite the ambassador’s claims, the media had reported that the cultural differences were the primary reason for Sagarika’s children taken into foster care.
In the film, Rani Mukerji plays the role of a mother fighting against the state that has wrongfully taken away her children from her. The film is based on Sagarika’ book The Journey of a Mother. The film is directed by Ashima Chibber and also stars Neena Gupta, Jim Sarbh and Anirban Bhattacharya.