Rani Mukerji on how she borrowed inspiration from mother, Krishna, to play her role in Mrs Chatterjee vs Norway
A still from Mrs Chatterjee vs Norway
There is maturity in performance when an actor of calibre steps up to take on a challenging project like Rani Mukerji did when she opted to retell the story of Sagarika Chakraborty, who was separated from her children when the Norway government authorities termed her an unfit mother. With Mrs Chatterjee vs Norway, the actor returns to the big screen two years after Bunty Aur Babli 2.
Mukerji concedes that when producer Nikkhil Advani first discussed the film based on a real story with her in January 2021, she didn’t believe that a government could “take away someone’s children due to cultural misinterpretation”. “Feeding children by hand, making them sleep in the same room, or applying kaala teeka are things we do normally. It was only when I researched that I saw that the Indian media had extensively reported on it in 2011. [In fact], Sushma Swaraj ji had even given a speech about it in the Parliament. The film can open so many avenues for people who want to settle abroad,” says the actor, who believes that the story needed to be told so that people understand the problems immigrants face all over the world. In fact, Gujarati couple Bhavesh and Dhara Shah are currently embroiled in a conflict with the German government over the country’s child protective agency, which separated their child from the parents. “We never hear about the challenges [NRIs] face on a day-to-day level. Many people complain about India and wish to settle abroad without getting a full picture of the laws and system there. Apna desh, apna desh hota hai,” she adds.
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It is natural to assume that Mukerji, who is mother to seven-year-old Adira and has been receiving praise from veteran actors and peers for her performance in the film, was led by her own maternal instincts in playing the protagonist Debika Chatterjee. However, the actor claims that she was channeling her mother Krishna Mukherjee onscreen. Sharing that they wanted the character to come across as an authentic Bengali woman who was born and grew up in West Bengal. Mukerji explains, “Though my mother has been living in Mumbai for 50 years, she was raised in West Bengal. Whether she speaks English, Hindi, or Bengali, she speaks like someone who lives there. I wanted Debika to be like my mom because that was the closest I could depict a Bengali mother. I wanted her reflection in my character because I knew that every Bengali who watches the film will see that Debika is an authentic character.”