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.