Rani Mukerji’s latest film Mrs Chatterjee Vs Norway has drawn a sharp response from the Norway embassy in India. The film is based on a real-life incident where an Indian couple’s children were taken away from them by Norway’s Child Welfare service on the pretext of bad parenting has gone down well with the country’s government. The Norwegian Ambassador to India called the movie a ‘work of fiction’ and stated it had factual inaccuracies.
In the film, the Indian couple fights a legal battle to get back their children who are put under the Norwegian foster system due to cultural differences in child-rearing.
“Children will never be taken away from their families based on cultural differences described. Eating with their hands or having children sleeping in bed with their parents are not considered practices harmful to children and are not uncommon in Norway, irrespective of cultural background,” the Norwegian Embassy said in its statement, adding that “some general facts must be set right”.
“The reason for placing children in alternative care is if they are subject to neglect, violence or other forms of abuse.”
Norwegian Ambassador to India, Hans Jacob Frydenlund stated that the country is a democratic, multicultural society.
“In Norway, we value and respect different family systems and cultural practices, also when these are different to what we are accustomed to – apart from corporal punishment in the upbringing. There is zero tolerance for violence in any shape or form,” he said in the statement shared on Twitter.”
In the statement, the Norwegian government also added that Child welfare is not driven by profit and refuted the claim that the film made that “the more children put into the foster system, the more money they make”. “Alternative care is a matter of responsibility and is not a money-making entity,” it said.
The Norway envoy said children are placed in alternative care when they face neglect or are “subject to violence or other forms of abuse.”
The statement highlighted that “such experiences” are difficult for those involved in it and that “child welfare cases are not easy” for the children, parents, and the Child Welfare Service.
Back in 2011, the Norway government had alleged that Sagarika Bhattacharya had force-fed her kids using her hands and the couple were also accused of beating their children, not giving them enough space to play and giving them unsuitable clothes and toys.
The case led to a diplomatic row between India and Norway and the court eventually gave custody of the children to their uncle who brought them back to India. The couple eventually separated and the mother had to take the legal route to get custody of her children.
Mrs Chatterjee Vs Norway has been helmed by Ashima Chibber and features Rani Mukerji, Jim Sarbh, Anirban Bhattacharya and Bodhisatva Majumdar.