Directed by Ashima Chibber
Why wait for the end of the year? Just give all the awards to Rani Mukerji for her sinewy performance as a hyper Bengali mother battling the government of Norway for the right to her own children.
There! I said it. Sounds so ridiculous: a mother being deprived for the right to her own children. But it all happened , and not so long ago when Sagarika Bhattacharya and her husband’s kids were taken away.
This is what happens when eager NRIs don’t read the fine print before migrating. Rani Mukerji, here rechristened Debika Chatterjee, fights tooth and nail to get back her children. Not much support from her stiff-lipped husband (Anirban Bhattacharya) . In the process of battling bureaucracy almost singlehandedly Debika encounters all sorts of conspiracies and schemers.
In fact, the two Norwegian women who barge into her home and whisk away her children have a distinctly witch-like demeanour. Luckily Ashima Chibber in her sophomore film , doesn’t fall prey to the stereotypes of the distressed-mother genre. Rani Mukerji makes sure of that. She brings an implosive emotional velocity to her character. We know straightaway that this woman won’t let her children go, not without a ferocious battle. And not even after that.
The film has a deceptively gleaming surface suggesting a well-ordered NRI’s affluence. Rani plays the messy housewife with such vigour, we completely read into her maternal intensity . I really don’t know how much of the storytelling is fictionalized. But I suspect some of the situations have been exaggerated, but with the right intentions, and intensity.
After all when life deals you such a lowbrow it is impossible to abide by ideas of civil conduct. Rani gets it. So do we. She is in marvellous form here, channeling the mother within her to manifest the screen mother’s trauma.
Luckily Rani gets some solid support from her co-actors, though I wish her husband(Anirban Bhattacharya) and in-laws were not shown to be uni-dimensionally villainish. (Contrary argument: they are shown that way, because they were blatantly evil). Jim Sarbh as a Norwegian lawyer tasked with proving Debika an unfit mother when in his heart believes it to be untrue, walks the fine balance between a stiflingly grey and reformative character with much grace. The other performance that I liked was Barun Chanda as the Judge in Kolkata who finally gives the mother her children back.
Some of the episodes, like Rani’s climactic monologue in the courtroom, can be seen coming from miles away. But we don’t mind being emotionally inveigled just this once. It is a bizarre story told with grace and restraint. It makes you worry about the civil rights of NRIs in foreign countries, and for Indian tourism in Norway.