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Norwegian child services scandal makes Bollywood hit 

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
Norwegian child services scandal makes Bollywood hit 
A film adaption of a child services scandal in Norway has launched on Netflix. File Photo. Bollywood actress Rani Mukherjee attends a musical tribute concert for the first death anniversary of late Bollywood playback singer Lata Mangeshkar. (Photo by SUJIT JAISWAL / AFP)

A Bollywood film, 'Mrs Chatterjee Vs Norway', has recently been released and is based on the real-life battle of a mother whose children were taken away by Norwegian authorities. 


The film premiered on March 17th and stars one of India's leading actors, Rani Mukherjee, in the leading role. 

The film is based on a child welfare scandal dating back to 2011. In May of that year, child services in Stavanger placed the five-month-old daughter and three-year-old son of Anurup Bhattacharya and Sagarika Chakraborty into care. 

The case garnered a large amount of attention in both Norway and India, with the parents claiming that custody of their children was removed due to cultural differences, such as the mother sharing a bed with her child and feeding her children with her hands. 

Both the foreign ministries of Norway and India became involved in the case, and it was called the "Norway Nightmare" in the Indian press and sparked demonstrations outside the Norwegian embassy in New Delhi in 2012. 


Child services initially became involved after a nursery one of the children attended at the time flagged up concerns. 

According to an account given by Bhattacharya to Norwegian broadcaster TV 2 in 2012, child services became involved due to cultural differences. 

"My wife is used to feeding with her hands, but the people who came from the childcare centre said that she should be fed with a spoon. When she did this (feed with her hands), they wrote in the documents that it was forced feeding," he said. 

Meanwhile, Stavanger Municipality argued that the case was solely focused on the welfare of the children and was not about cultural differences. The decision to remove the children from their parents was made after police were called to the family home to deal with a disturbance at the property.  

In 2012, the grandparents and an uncle of the children in India were granted custody. Authorities, including the foreign ministries of Norway and India, were involved in the case, with authorities from both countries engaged in resolving the incident. 

Chakraborty decided to return to India while Bhattacharya remained in Norway. The pair are now separated. In the film, Bhattacharya is portrayed as hitting his wife, something he has denied doing

Human rights lawyer Gro Hillestad Thune, who has worked on child welfare cases as a judge in the European Court of Human Rights, said the film should act as a wakeup call to Norway. 

"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 told the Norwegian newspaper VG.


VG also reports that since 2015 the European Court of Human Rights has dealt with 40 child protection cases against Norway. 

The Norwegian Ambassador to India, Hans Jacob Frydenlund, criticised the film in an op-ed and accused the filmmakers of factual inaccuracies and misrepresentation of Norway's approach to family life and cultural differences. 

Before its release, several officials from the Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family (Bufdir) said they planned to watch the film. 

"We are preparing for debate in light of the film, even though it is fiction and not a documentary," the department director for international services at the directorate, Kristin Ugstad Steinrem, told FriFagbevegelse (the news publication owned by trade union group LO) before the film's release.


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