Home Entertainment Exclusive! Ashima Chibber talks about Rani Mukerji’s powerful performance in Mrs. Chatterjee...

Exclusive! Ashima Chibber talks about Rani Mukerji’s powerful performance in Mrs. Chatterjee Vs. Norway.


Cause-based films like Mrs. Chatterjee Vs Norway are increasingly becoming a trending genre in Hindi cinema. It has gained credible momentum with time. Director Ashima Chibber, who is a mother herself, was all shook up by the story of a woman whose children were taken away by the Norwegian authorities because they thought she was incompetent to bring up her children in their country. “How can separating a child from her mother be an option? They can’t think of it as an option. They have to think of a better option,” she opines. Rani Mukerji, who plays the titular character, has been praised for her heartbreaking portrayal in the film.

Ashima says her association with Rani goes back years. She was working at Yash Raj and kept bumping into Rani. “She was the first person to come to my support when I decided to be a single mother. She supported me when I needed it the most and has always been caring. So that ease was always there. She was the first person who came to mind when I thought of casting for the film.

I wouldn’t have made the film without her,” gushes the director. Apart from Rani, Bengali actor Anirban Chatterjee, who plays the MCP husband in the film, is getting praise as well for his rocking performance. People want to punch him in the face. Ashima is delighted by such reactions. “He’s a fantastic actor. He was such a slam dunk for our choice of husband because we needed a husband who could be a little grey. When we were working with him, he brought so much more to his character. They’re such fantastic performers, both of them that the scenes stay in your head.”

Sagarika Chakaraborty, on whose book, The Journey Of A Mother, the film is based, was initially hesitant to sell the filming rights to Ashima. Ashima says that Sagarika wrote the book because she wanted her experience to come to light so that others might gain from it. “I told her that making a film on it would spread the story even further. She took her time to say yes, as there were children involved. It’s only when she was convinced it wouldn’t adversely affect the children when they watched it after growing up that she consented.”

The film might not have made a killing at the box office but it has been widely appreciated. Its emotional impact can’t be denied. Ashima shares that lots of people who have had similar experiences as those depicted in the film have been reaching out to her. “The film has been ringing a lot of bells. If this film provokes countries to review their child welfare laws, then I would count it as a victory,” she asserts. She adds that more and more filmmakers are making cause-based films or films depicting a slice of reality because they have realised people resonate with them. “The people depicted in my film, for instance, are still alive.

I have picked up a piece of recent history about a common, middle-class mother and shown her story to the world. People related to it because of its emotional depth. You don’t always need escapist fantasies,” she points out.

Her first film, Mere Dad Ki Maruti, was as different from Mrs. Chatterjee Vs Norway as chalk and cheese. She says she’s a different person now than she was 10 years ago, when she made her first film. “I evolved into a better version of myself in the intervening years. I was desperate to be a mother and experiencing motherhood changes you as a person. So bringing up your child, suffering all the joys and anxieties of motherhood did affect my choices. I gravitated towards something like
Mrs. Chatterjee… because of who I am today.”

She counts Mere Dad Ki Maruti as a learning experience and points out that, just like Mrs. Chatterjee…that too was a family film. “People related to the dynamics between parents and children depicted in my first film. It had a fresh subject and the comic elements too added a layer. It was my first assignment as an independent director. I learnt a lot making it. And I’m justifiably proud of it.”

Ashima felt emotionally drained after making Mrs. Chatterjee…and feels the need to move on to a lighter subject. She’d like to make a comedy next and wouldn’t mind casting Rani in it. Her wish list of actors she wants to work with also includes Alia Bhatt, Deepika Padukone, Anushka Sharma and Priyanka Chopra. “I’m aiming for longevity.

I want to make films that people will come to watch again and again. I want them to experience a variety of emotions. Let’s see how much of my dream comes true.” Fingers crossed!