Eastern Eye (UK)

Rani Mukerji is saving grace in a missed opportunit­y


Starring: Rani Mukerji, Anirban Bhattachar­ya, Jim Sarbh, Neena Gupta Director: Ashima Chibber

THE emotional drama based on Sagarika Chakrabort­y’s 2022 autobiogra­phy The Journey of a Mother was released in cinemas recently and revolves around a determined woman in a foreign land, trying to get her children back from authoritie­s. Rani Mukerji portrays the devoted housewife and mother who is plunged into a nightmare when her young children are taken away by Norwegian child welfare services, for what are innocuous reasons acceptable in Indian culture.

Despite not being able to speak the language, the mother will do what it takes to get her children back and this leads to the stand-off escalating to an internatio­nal level. This subsequent­ly leads to another unexpected fight.

Like many Bollywood films that have come out in recent years, this is another illustrati­on of what happens when bad writing destroys an interestin­g concept. The original story of a woman exposing wrongdoing within western welfare authoritie­s, and an unlikely hero taking them on, turns into a melodrama that veers off in different directions. This includes an obvious attempt to cash in on the patriotic fervour that has swept across India.

Instead of it being focused on the central clash, the story adds cliché troupes of the protagonis­t being emotionall­y tortured by pretty much everyone, including her own family. It is kind of obvious why it has taken the inexperien­ced director 10 years to direct her second movie, after what was a forgettabl­e debut. She seems way out of her depth with such a sensitive subject and doesn’t make use of the compelling material. That is why Mrs Chatterjee Vs Norway quickly loses momentum after a strong start.

The only real saving grace is the powerful lead performanc­e from lead star Rani Mukerji, but even a Herculean effort from her isn’t able to carry the weight of this movie’s many flaws. The solid source material and scenic setting is done a massive disservice with what ultimately becomes a big missed opportunit­y.

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