Mrs Chatterjee Vs Norway
Onto the next release of the weekend and I finished watching the new Hindi film Mrs. Chatterjee Vs Norway which was the second Hindi film to hit the theatres this week. One of the USPs of the film was Rani Mukherji and her return to the silver screen after Hichki(if I am not wrong). I was a Rani Mukherji fan while growing up and I was always enamoured by the choice of films and the subjects which she had selected back then. The palate was an interesting one and no prizes for guessing that quite a few of the films did meet with success.
It has been a couple of weeks since I had first watched the riveting trailer of the film Mrs. Chatterjee Vs Norway. And it did seem like a harrowing incident which was revealed in the trailer as ‘Based On True Events’. Immediately, I did a little digging and did read a little about the incident, just enough to have context, and it dated back to almost a decade ago. The story did seem promising and I was hoping that the film would translate into something excellent and worth telling. Now that I have finished watching Mrs. Chatterjee Vs Norway, here are my two cents on the film.
Story & Screenplay
Based on a true incident, Mrs. Chatterjee Vs Norway follows the story of a mother fighting for the custody of her children against the authorities of Norway. This can partially be termed as a biopic too but the story here is indeed harrowing and something which needed to be told. Another attempt from the Hindi Film Industry in trying to churn out original content through some resilient storytelling, and I cannot be happier! The screenplay standing at a shade above 2 hours does make for a rivetting watch although I did feel that things did get slightly repetitive in the first hour.
The drama does begin with a shocking opening sequence which immediately did catch my attention before cutting to the events which did transpire a day before, leading up to the event. Now when I did mention that things were repetitive, this is a good example of it. The entire sequence was given a bit of a recall value in the very next scene and it was a good decision to open with it. But fundamentally when you are tracing the events to its conclusion and especially when the conclusion has been shown already, you do expect a slightly different technique, be it in camera work or otherwise that does reduce the repetitiveness. That isn’t present here although this is not to say that the drama is bad. It is a pretty good watch and hits on all the right emotions in its opening act. This was more of a slight tweak here and there for improvement in utilizing the minutes on the canvas better.
The proceedings are impressive and engrossing with a nice little layer of patriarchy acting as a subtext. This was particularly refreshing to witness in a biopic because usually, the biopics are known to whitewash the image of a person. But the balancing act here in addressing that all was not well with the couple, attributing to the fact that the husband did not help his wife in the household chores leading up to one of the reasons of the ‘abduction’ did seem like a legit point on paper(perhaps toxic parenting in subtext). I did like the treatment of the drama too, although I did have minor issues with the pitch at times. The proceedings could have been slightly mellowed down at certain places but the core emotions were definitely intact.
The drama does rely on some solid characterization given that this is a character driven screenplay. The entire interval block sequence was thrilling yet you could feel a sense of hopelessness tagged to it, thereby prompting you to invest further. The events are quite textured and complex in the second hour with the introduction of the legal proceedings along with the tangled relationships in play. And your heart really feels for the character of the mother, who is nothing short of a superhero. As they say, not all superheroes wear capes, neither do mothers! The resilience and acts of aggression and nicely represented leading up to that emotionally moving final act that does strike a chord, gently tugging the strings of your heart. Overall, the screenplay is quite well written with the right checks and balances as far as the emotions are concerned in what is a drama filled with resilience!
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are slightly verbose but in the end the message is communicated effectively. The music is really underrated and some of the songs by Amit Trivedi make for a beautiful impact. The BGM too does elevate the drama at many places. The cinematography has a wide range from shaky cameras to proper midshots and again beautifully captured. Director Ashima Chibber does a good job in keeping the viewers emotionally invested at any given point of time. Her direction was pretty good for most parts of the film.
The performances are excellent by the ensemble cast. Neena Gupta in a cameo delivers a very dignified performance, likewise for the veteran Barun Chandra who is aptly cast. Jim Sarbh is such a brilliant actor and he is just so well restrained here as Daniel. It was a pleasure watching him perform. Anirban Bhattacharya is probably one of the finest actors in our country at the moment. In his Hindi debut as Anirudh, he does understand the pitch of his character perfectly. As a result, his performance is very nuanced with so many shades that do not allow you to form an opinion about his character. Brilliant in every word!
Much has been said about the performance of Rani Mukherji and how loud and screechy it is. To that Anmol from Tried & Refused Productions made a very valid point and I agree to that wholeheartedly. The character was in a foreign land, barely comfortable with any of the local languages and had such a huge tragedy in front of her. How would you think she will react? Would the character need to bother about restraint in such a situation? I don’t think so and for that reason I feel that Rani Mukherji as Debita does a commendable job in expressing her pain and agony. The accents were slightly dicey but try switching between Bengali, Norwegian and English! Good luck!
Mrs.Chatterjee Vs Norway is a riveting drama with stellar performances that does make for a good watch. Available in a theatre near you.