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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38 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.

  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.

    • 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

      • It is happening in the US too. Children taken away from good parents. Truly abused children left to die, as they don’t get help.

    • 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.

    • 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.

  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.


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