'Mrs Chatterjee Vs Norway' hit the theatres today and while many are loving the brilliant storytelling in the film (which as per the makers is based on true events), some haven't taken the narrative of the film too well.
Earlier this morning, the Norwegian Ambassador to India, Hans Jacob Frydenlund said that the film incorrectly depicts the country's (Norway's) belief in family life. The Norwegian envoy said that the film has "factual inaccuracies" and the story is a "fictional representation of the case."
And now, Sagarika Chakraborty, the real-life inspiration behind the story, the woman who lived the ordeal shown in the film, has come forward to refute the statement given by the Norwegian envoy. She is the woman who stood up against the government of Norway to fight for the right to be reunited with her children after they were taken away from her and placed in foster care and told that they will not be returned until the age of 18.
In a video, Sagarika said, "Hi. I condemn the false statement by the Norwegian ambassador in the papers today...he spoke about my case without having any decency to ask me. He should take this as an opportunity to sensitize Norwegian caseworkers about cultural prejudice. Even 10 years after I have single-handedly brought up my children so well in full view of the world. When the whole world can see the beautiful bond between my children and me."
She added, "The Norwegian Government continues to spread lies against me. Till today, they have not apologised for the racism of their caseworkers. They destroyed my life, and my reputation and traumatized my children. They supported my husband when he was cruel to me and they call themselves a 'feminist country'. In Oslo and other parts of Norway, and (even) other parts of the world, people are very eager to watch the film and all the tickets are sold out. People coming from Norway and other countries want to meet me. And, last not least, the Indian Government helped me a lot and will continue to support such families in the future. Jai Hind."
The film's producer Nikkhil Advani also issued a statement revealing that they hosted the Norwegian ambassador to India last evening for a special screening during which the latter "admonish(ed) two strong women who have chosen to tell this very important story (Mrs Chatterjee Vs Norway)." He also attached Sagaraika's video along with it.
Here's what he wrote:
"'Atithi Devo Bhava!' is a cultural mandate in India. Every Indian is taught that by our elders. Last evening we hosted the Norwegian Ambassador and volunteered to show him our film "Mrs Chatteriee vs Norway." Post the screening I sat quietly watching him admonish two strong women who have chosen to tell this very important story. I was quiet because just like Sagarika Chakraborty, they don't need me to fight for them and "culturally" we do not insult our guests. As far as clarification is concerned. Video Attached."
The Norwegian Ambassador earlier said, "Children will never be taken away from their families based on cultural differences described. Eating with their hands or having children sleep in bed with their parents are not considered practices harmful to children and are not uncommon in Norway, irrespective of cultural background. Child welfare is not driven by profit. The alleged claim that 'the more children put into the foster system, the more money they make' is completely false. Alternative care is a matter of responsibility and not a money-making entity. The reason for placing children in alternative care is if they are subject to neglect, violence or other forms of abuse," read the statement.
Frydenlund further stated that Norway is a democratic, multicultural society and the Norwegian Child Welfare Act applies to all children in Norway, regardless of their ethnic background or nationality.
"We sympathize with the affected families, particularly the children. For those involved, there is no denying that such experiences are difficult. Child welfare cases are not easy. Certainly not for the children, not for the parents and not for the Child Welfare Service tasked with finding the right solution," he added.
In the film, Rani essays the role of a mother battling the state for her kids. The film is based on Sagarika Chakaraborty's book 'The Journey of a Mother'. Helmed by Ashima Chibber, 'Mrs Chatterjee vs Norway' also stars Neena Gupta, Jim Sarbh and Anirban Bhattacharya among others. (ANI)