Real life story behind Rani’s latest ‘Mrs Chatterjee vs Norway’


Rani Mukherjee returns to the big screen with her latest film ‘Mrs Chatterjee vs Norway’, which will be released on March 17. The trailer of the film was launched on February 23 and has garnered a lot of attention which is based on the real life story of an Indian woman defiantly standing up to the Norwegian government to reunite with her children.

The Story

Sagarika married geophysicist Anurup and the couple moved to Norway in 2007.

A year later, Sagarika gave to Abhigyaan, the couple’s first child, who soon showed signs of autism. Thus, in 2010, Abhigyaan would be put in a family kindergarten where he would receive specific care, especially as by this time, Sagarika was pregnant again, with her soon to be born daughter Aishwarya.

Tragedy struck in 2011 when the Norwegian Child Welfare Services, known as the Barnevernet (literally: ‘child protection’) took both kids Aishwarya and Abhigyaan away from the parents, to be kept at a foster home till they turned 18.

Supposedly the couple had been “under observation’’ for months for what Barnevernet termed ‘improper parenting’.

Allegations against the couple included sleeping on the same bed as their children, hand feeding (which was seen by Norwegian authorities as force feeding) and also corporal punishment (Sagarika had allegedly slapped the children once). While these things might seem “normal” in the Indian context, for the Norwegian authorities, it was unacceptable.

Evidently, Norway has extremely strict laws regarding children and their upbringing and these laws are universally implemented, regardless of cultural differences.

What followed is over-a-year-long tussle for custody of her children, during which Norwegian authorities claimed that she was ‘mentally unfit’ to raise to children – Sagarika herself was in her late twenties at the time and was not known to be particularly organised or punctual, something that authorities used against her.

This story soon captured the attention of both the Norwegian as well as Indian media, with many highly critical of Barnevernet’s actions.

Some went as far as to call it a “state sponsored kidnapping”. The issue was that not only did Barnevernet appear to be culturally unaware regarding Indian parenting, they also seemed to be personally attacking the mother to strengthen their own case.

In January 2013, Justice Dipankar Dutta ruled that Sagarika should get the custody of the two children while allowing their uncle and grandfather to have visitation privileges. “It should be painful for the uncle and grandfather but they should accept it for the larger interest. They had taken care of the children according to requirement,” said Dutta.


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