Norway Child Welfare Controversy Becomes Bollywood Movie

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A new Bollywood movie, ‘Mrs Chatterjee vs. Norway', is now showing in cinemas prior to release on Netflix. It is based on the true story of an Indian mother who fought to get her kids back after they were taken by authorities in Norway.

You don’t have to go far on the internet to find criticism of Norway’s child welfare services. Known as Barnevernet, the public agency is at the centre of several controversial cases involving foreign parents of children.

Rani Mukerji stars in 'Mrs Chatterjee Vs Norway'. Image: Zee Studios/Emmay Entertainment.
Rani Mukerji stars in ‘Mrs Chatterjee vs. Norway'. Image: Zee Studios/Emmay Entertainment.

Now, a new movie puts one of those cases in the global spotlight. Starring famous Indian actress Rani Mukerji, ‘Mrs Chatterjee vs. Norway' is showing on limited release in cinemas before a Netflix release in May 2023.

Based on a true story

The movie is based on a scandal from 2011 when a young girl and boy were taken from their parents, Anurup Bhattacharya and Sagarika Chakraborty, in Stavanger.

People in both Norway and India were very interested in the case. The parents said their kids were taken because of cultural differences, like the mom sleeping with her child and feeding them with her hands.

Read more: The Best Norwegian Movies

Both Norway and India's governments got involved, and people in India protested outside the Norwegian embassy in 2012.

The case started when a nursery raised concerns about the kids. Bhattacharya said that the problem was cultural differences, like feeding his child with hands instead of a spoon.

Stavanger Municipality said the case was only about the kids' well-being and not about culture. The kids were taken after the police were called to the family's home.

In 2012, the kids' grandparents and uncle in India got custody. Both countries' governments helped solve the case. Chakraborty went back to India, and Bhattacharya stayed in Norway. They are now separated.

The movie “should make Norway think”

A human rights lawyer, Gro Hillestad Thune, said the movie should make Norway think about its actions. She said many people get upset with Norway's child protection system.

“This film will strengthen Norway's bad reputation internationally, and it is deserved. Many people from abroad react with sensible anger after their experiences with the Norwegian child protection system,” Thune said to VG.

The Norwegian Ambassador to India, Hans Jacob Frydenlund, said the movie has some mistakes and doesn't show Norway's real attitude towards family and culture.

'Mrs Chatterjee vs. Norway'. Image: Zee Studios/Emmay Entertainment.
‘Mrs Chatterjee vs. Norway'. Image: Zee Studios/Emmay Entertainment.

Also, the movie shows Bhattacharya hitting his wife, but he says that didn't happen.

Some Norwegian officials said they planned to watch the movie and were ready for discussions about it.

Introducing Barnevernet

The European Court of Human Rights has looked into 40 cases against Norway since 2015. So what exactly does Barnevernet do?

Barnevernet works at the municipal level, supported by services at both county and national level. Its remit is “to ensure that children and youth who live in conditions that may be detrimental to their health and development receive the necessary assistance and care at the right time.”

Approximately 3% of all children in Norway are under some form of measure from Barnevernet. This includes (for parents) counselling, advice, access to day care, and other external support.

Of these, about one-quarter of the cases result in care orders for children to be placed in foster homes or institutions.

Have you watched Mrs Chatterjee vs. Norway? If so, what did you think of the story? Let us know in the comments below.

About David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a professional writer on all things Scandinavia.

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59 thoughts on “Norway Child Welfare Controversy Becomes Bollywood Movie”

  1. No more Mrs Chatterjee vs. Norway cases. The Norwegian social services should be banished and replaced immediately with a more human way to protect children.

    • The movie is very moving. Even if the movie is 50% correct (which it seems to be after reading 2011 to 2013 European articles!), the Norwegian Child protective services are draconian. Movie also raised question about a bit of racist angle, heavy handedness & no respect for other cultures. There seems like an element of self preservation by people working in those agencies. Kudos to real Ms Sagarika Bhattacharya for a fight to be a mother that took on a dysfunctional system. Norway has lot to think how it proceeds especially the population decline they face, high taxes and their waning impact in Europe as well as waning impact of Europe in the world affairs. Good on new emphatic India to stand for their citizens. India’s economic might is just beginning to be realized.

  2. ~The Norwegian Ambassador to India, Hans Jacob Frydenlund, said the movie has some mistakes and doesn’t show Norway’s real attitude towards family and culture.~

    How would Herr Frydenlund know this? Fact is, he doesn’t. Norway as of 2019, had 35 cases before the European Human Rights courts for mostly violations due to barnevern. Compared to Denmark and Sweden which both had single digits on the low side of 10. Norway lost a case against a Norwegian woman who had her son taken. She wanted contact with him and was granted it as a final decision. What does Norway do? They put in a restraining order on behalf of the child against the mother in retaliation.

    This film is not an isolated incident.

    • This just shows that which countries are completely being avoided to move. Norway is bad country to move for their such inhuman acts and making money agencies. Pathetic.k

  3. My goodness, it’s a terrorist act, separating kids from their mother. It’s no surprise though, many western and european countries don’t understand other’s culture and traditions and they always think they are above us all, hence this happens. It’s ridiculous, but can’t even teach them since they think they are better than the rest of the world.

    • And imagine if India were to confiscate Norwegian children and place them with Indian foster parents! It would cause an international incident.

  4. i just now watched this movie and i feel bollywood can do anything for make money , i totally refused this movie is propaganda against norway

    • I first learned about Mrs. Chaterjee vs Norway from a European news documentary interviewing ethnically Norwegian mothers who had lost their children for random excuses. This issue is not propaganda.

    • It’s a mother’s story. Her children were taken from her. If this movie hadn’t been made, it wouldn’t have been heard by people like myself that didn’t know. I am glad this movie was made. It reached a wider audience for Sagarika Chakraborty to tell her story.

  5. I saw this movie today and my heart broke for the mother. But i find to rol of india kinda hypocritical. In holland we have a case going on about a mother. Her child Insiya was abducted. Mother hasnt seen her in years… still trying to get her back… india doesnt want to coorperate with the mother or our goverment. India should be ashamed… start with your own government.


    Read about it

  6. Anyone seperating the child from the mother is a criminal.. it is the most inhuman action as a baby would be traumatized without the mother.. if u feel mother is incapable give her assistance, help her with volunteers to make her life easy.. these child welfare organisation have least experience in handling childrens or mother’s psychological state.. Disgusting to see Norway government act so blindly.. in the movie it was told “the child was kept in dark room all day as he was crying for his mother” and this is your good child welfare decision.. How much more are humans going to do evil for making money.. Disgusting

  7. Even if 10% of the events depicted in movie are real, Norway’s legislators and citizens should be ashamed of their culture and laws.

    I have lost respect for one of the most progressive countries of our world !!

  8. My opinion of Norway is bad now after watching this movie and reading up about the case. Totally disgusted by the obnoxious, imperialist (Kingdom of Norway) racist
    behaviour of the Norwegian social services.

  9. Honestly i am losing all respect for the West and the whites. They think they know best. This movie shows how cruel they can be ..like the colonial masters of days goneby. India pls show more such true films of this sort!

    • It is happening in the West too. Children from good homes taken by CPS in the US. All races included. I am now just hearing about this story about Sagarika Chakraborty and her children because Netflix. I had no clue it’s going on in other parts of world before this. It’s a money making scheme and social and cultural differences and not understanding ones cultures can play a big part of the excuse to remove children. Sagarika Chakraborty is a courageous woman and I appreciate her getting her story out there.

  10. Whether this movie is portraying the real events or not, it at least helped me understand the child protection laws in different European countries. I will never go to a country where cultural differences are not tolerated. I am happy to be in India with my children even if I am poor.

  11. It is terrible to take a child from their mother and put them in a foster care system. If a culture/society thinks that was the better option in this case, then I have no respect for such an idiotic, supremacist, ignorant and ultimately evil set of laws. Maybe it’s time the Norwegians learnt a thing or two about the benefits of eating by hand and co-sleeping benefits.

  12. Norway is, unfortunately, know for somewhat draconian child welfare institution, especially when it comes to foreign families. It’s not simply racism, as white European families living in Norway also seemingly have been discriminated against in this system. I know of two cases from my country, where children were taken from their mother in Norway in circumstances where they wouldn’t be removed from their home elsewhere.

  13. Have you seen the conditions in which most children live and grow up in INDIA? Let’s be real here. Let’s not act as if children grow up in the most caring and nurturing environment in India. I have seen them beg and collect garbage. I have seen 5-6 kids in a household, not having to eat and the entire family sleeping in a single-room house, probably the size of a bathroom in Norway. Mumbai has the world’s largest slum. Just google pictures and you will see the reality in which kids are being brought up. They have zero population control. No jobs but they will be popping kids every 2 years. Even in the cities, it’s not like every parent knows how to raise a child. They will not hesitate to raise a hand or throw a shoe at them.

    Norway is still miles ahead in terms of child upbringing and welfare. You should be lucky to have gotten an opportunity to raise your family here.

    • Does poverty in India justify taking the children away in Norway? Your logic is clearly impaired as this would mean all poor families all over the world should have their children taken away. Have you firsthand experience in matters like this? Welfare care is far worse and very often children are subjected to worse abuse including physical, emotional and sexual. Are you aware that many children disappear from welfare organisations. I don’t know what you have seen in India or even if you actually went there yourself . You mentioned google. If that is what shaped your opinion I can only say that you should not judge without thinking.

      • Maybe you didn’t read the part where I mentioned that I have visited India and many Indian cities, rich and poor, to make my judgement. Who draws conclusion from google images? I mentioned it so people can get an idea of what life is like in India for the poor. I have worked with NGOs. I have heard stories of these poor Indian families who have 5-6 kids per family and can barely afford to get a meal. Some of their parents are dead. Some can’t go to school so they end up going to big cities and working jobs like collecting garbage or working in construction and getting paid as less as €3 in a week. I am not saying Norway’s way is perfect. My problem is that India has not done enough to criticise Norway. Norway is miles ahead of India in terms of almost every aspect.

        • So sad to hear a view from a privileged white person, who should certainly not be working in an ngo with a colonial attitude. The same attitude which brutalised and looted the wealth. Many so called developed countries live off the poor. Just because Norway is seen to be more developed that does not mean the children should be taken away. This is so uncivilised and barbaric, done to the aboriginal, the indigenous people in the “Americas’ etc. I am not sure why there needs to be a comparison of governments. This is such a typical Karen attitude

    • This is not about poverty. It is about discrimination and injustice against biological parents trying to give a better life to their children by moving to a place like Norway. I am Norwegian and I know that the velferd has gone OTT and removed children from loving parents while children of drug addicts overdosing in their houses received no support

    • Such an appalling attitude. India is one of the largest nations in the world. There lives poorest of the poor and richest of the richest. One can see the most immaculate mansions and the most crowded slums there. Just because some people are poor or because there are slums do you think it’s right to treat Indians this way? Or even more appropriate question is it right to treat anyone badly because he or she is poor. More than monetary supremacy is the supremacy of values, purity of soul and correct attitude. Give respect to the tradition, values, rich philosophical and spiritual heritage of the great country. Look beyond just money.

      • Hmm, while I am not defending or supporting cruel Norwegian government behavior in this scenario, nor do I support treating people based on their wealth or heritage, I would like to understand why you believe Norway or any other country is supposed to respect or even understand the traditions of the immigrants? If one decides to move to another country in search of a better life, that person is responsible for learning and respecting the traditions, culture, language, and values of the host country. You do not have to forget your heritage, but it is disrespectgul to benefit from the country resources and not learn their language and traditions, and shove your culture into everyone’s face.

          • Well, the movie is not a documentary, I do not know what has actually happened, but you are actually incorrect from the legal standpoint, once one accepts a residency in a foreign country they are to abide by their lows. You also completely miss the point I make, when we immigrate to a new country it is ridiculous to expect that people will know our customs and traditions or except them to learn them. And since we chose to move to a new country because we want to have a better life for our children, it is our responsibility to learn the new country culture and language.

        • This is so bizarre – so tell me when the colonialists invaded other countries did they adopt the ways of living there- no they observed their own culture and imposed it on others. While you are saying you are defending the Norwegian govt. What you are defending is a white supremacist attitude and behaviour – the one that believes white is the norm and all others are deviant

    • I am appalled by what you said, just because some one is poor that doesn’t mean they want grow away from their parents. I am disgusted that someone can think like that.

      Your statement “should be lucky to have gotten an opportunity to raise your family here” makes me sick to my stomach. I am an Indian who was born in a poor family but I was surrounded by love from my parents. We had difficulties but there was struggles but I was always happy in my childhood. Today I am also successful in materialistic terms and I earn around half a million dollars a year. But my most happy moments are when I am poor and when I was with my family.

      You need to get out of the faulty thinking money and structure brings happiness. Materialistic wealth is important but for a good living peace, love, kindness and compassion are the ones that truly matter.

    • Oh boy, where do I even begin with your racist rant? So people of colour who are poor must give their children up to affluent white parents? If those 5-6 kids in a house hold sleeping in a single room the size of a bathroom in Norway are loved, and with their own biological parents, they are still far better off than with strangers. In America the number one cause of death for children is gun violence. American children can be the victims of mass shooters even in elementary schools. They can be shot in parks, supermarkets, schools and malls. And most politicians don’t give a damn because they are in the pay of the NRA. So should we take them away from their parents and place them with, let’s say, Mexican parents? You are a racist who doesn’t understand what children really need. You want to punish the poor like Ronald Reagan.

    • What a lovely rant! As one of our superstar asks – is this script your own?
      It’s surprising that you claim to have worked in the social sector in India and yet have no understanding of Indian society! Allow me to allay some of your concerns..
      Regarding population, yes, we are the most populous country in the world. But your claim of families mostly having 5-6 kids.. umm, India has a fertility rate of 2.1 or 2.05. That means, on an average the country has two kids per woman. And this has been so for many years now. This data is available with the official census and it implies that for every 1 woman having 6 kids, there’re 2 who have none.
      So NO, they aren’t really ‘popping out kids every 2 years’ with ‘zero population control’.

      Okay next I’ll explain how inspite of living in poverty, Indian kids can still ‘grow up in a caring and nurturing environment’. See, unlike what we hear about the West (and I accept I might be wrong about this assumption), India has a very family oriented society. For whatever reasons, good or bad, there are fewer divorces. Apart from both the parents, the children often have the care and love of grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins. Maybe no air conditioned, spacious homes, but definitely not much lack of personal attention to their needs, food, illness, injuries, etc. Despite the lack of money, they’re LOVED.

      Another typically Desi thing with Indian parents.. they’re obsessed with education. No matter their financial or educational background (or lack thereof), there is this zealous drive to educate their kids the best they can. Their best may not be upto your Norwegian standards, but that doesn’t mean there’s a lack of effort from their end.

      Further on, I agree that if not the shoes, most Indian parents wouldn’t hesitate from raising their hands to discipline their kids. But just how does this translate to parents not knowing how to raise their kids is beyond logic!

      Lastly, if testimonies on YouTube are anything to go by, I doubt many families – expats, immigrants or even Norwegians would consider themselves ‘lucky to have gotten an opportunity to raise their family there’.
      I saw this couple whose twin daughters were taken away 4 hours after their birth.. from the hospital itself!!!! Oh Good God, the horror!!

      So sure, Norway is miles ahead of India in terms of child upbringing and welfare and knowing what i do about it now… I sincerely pray India never catches up to you guys!

    • Why don’t you google homeless encampments in western countries. Take a look at photos of Watts, Skid Row, and the Rind in Ohio. Thank God my parents immigrated to the USA in 1960 and not to Norway. I was born in the USA and thank God CPS didn’t take me away for eating from my Mom’s loving hands. My parents were admired my our teachers for raising polite intelligent children. My parents raised five college educated law abiding citizens. There are 83 and 90 years old and live comfortably at the Country Club.

  14. I’m in the US. I’ve also read news articles about the case.

    The complaints Norway child welfare had against the mom should have been resolved with family counseling, not seizure of the children.

  15. Having a system to protect kids from abuse is very important. But from my understanding the system is very flawed and they need to rethink their structure. It feels like they want to ensure a “certain way” of living for kids rather than checking if their parents love and care for them. The system feels like a robot running on a bunch of rules rather than approaching with compassion and kindness both for the kids and parents.

    Whats the guarantee that the kid in foster would become a healthy and happy adult vs the kid living with parent. What are the risks for the kids, what are the chance things are a false positive. Also such a sensitive system should have multiple fail safes in place like multiple independent assessments etc and extremely long parent education or perhaps not such strict and sudden decisions to remove their kids etc.

    There is a BBC article that says a child psychologist who was responsible for many such decision was convicted on a child abuse case. Why not have checks on the people who run the system. Why not have accept an assessment from psychologists from their parents.

  16. I watched the movie with heavy heart.
    The corruption that has seeped through to the child protection system and unethical procedures should be checked before it harms more of the future generation

  17. As an immigrant Latin-American to USA, i felt so bad to know how bad immigrants are treated in other countries, specially those so called “: developed countries”.
    The corruption portrait in the movie should be addressed by Humans right organizations. Children should not be a merchandise in the hands of those ignorant workers, Norwayan women should start having their own kids and stop seeking to adopt and contribute with that mafia. They pay lots of money to get those kids kidnapped by authorities.

  18. Old habits die hard!

    After watching the movie, I am not surprised by the treatment of white/European people. This is their old habit of taking kids from other races, such as in Spain, Australia, Canada, Germany, and I am not sure which other countries as well.

    Karma will come back to haunt all these countries!

  19. Hey truth, why do you think it is okay for you to make this type of blanket statement and in one swoop insult all “white/Euripean people”? Last I checked it is racists and ignorant to say things like that. Do not do, it is also a bad karma. There are good and bad people in every race, nationality and area. In fact, the uncle and the in-laws of the main heroin of the movie did not seem like fine specimens of the human kind either, so it would be best to focus on the actions and not color of people, seems like it would resolve a lot of issues in the world.

    • BTW European is not spelt correctly. Why do you use white and European as options. Not all Europeans are white! Please also check you use of karma and the misuse of cultural appropriated words. PS if is impossible to apply racism to white people – please check and read up on white privileged. It is unbelievable that this attitude of white saviour is rife in NGO work

  20. Having visiting all the Scandinavian countries I can tell Scandinavian have a superiority complex, they really think the way they live or their education is the best in the world and a way to follow, yet it’s a dying society. Glad Indians released a powerful movie about that. The day immigration stop in this part of the world it will be Zombie countries.

  21. This movie depicts the heart wrenching struggle of parents against misinformed and probably biased authority which tares the struggling family apart. Such authorities should have staff that knows and understands the foreign customs and culture. Stooges spoils the situation just by leaning in favor of the authority. Even today in many western societies bias exists against foreign cultures and traditions. Let us endeavor to eliminate such bias and try to make this world one family.


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