As soon as Nikkhil Advani read the script of Mrs Chatterjee vs Norway, he knew that the material held promise. His faith in the film was reaffirmed when Rani Mukerji agreed to play the central role. The actor, after all, is known to be choosy about her projects. More importantly, in the past decade, she has only featured in movies bankrolled by YRF Films, with Bombay Talkies (2013) being the sole exception.
So, did it take a lot of convincing to bring Mukerji on board? It took only a solid script, says the producer. “It was a Thursday [when I gave her the script], and she said that she would let me know on Monday. When I spoke to her on Monday, Rani said that she was ready to say a big yes on Friday itself. That’s the power of this script,” he beams.
One can’t deny that the story — based on the 2011 episode where Sagarika and Anurup Bhattacharya’s kids were taken away from them by the Norwegian welfare services, on grounds of extreme parental neglect — is a riveting one to be told on the big screen. Mukerji was Advani’s only choice for the Ashima Chibber-directed venture, the trailer of which releases today. “If you need a powerhouse performer who can essay complicated emotions and shoulder a film, Rani is the top name one thinks about. Also, she is Bengali, and Mrs Chatterjee is a Bengali immigrant, who is fighting for her children.”
The drama went on floors in August 2021 in Estonia, and was shot over the next three months. While prep is all-important for an artiste to step into a role, it becomes all the more crucial when one has to offer an authentic retelling of a real-life story. The producer recalls how the movie’s leading lady studied the nuances of her character, down to her accent. “I was skeptical about her using a particular accent for the character. But Rani got that down to perfection, and it made her character even more authentic.” He adds that a particular scene cemented his belief that Mukerji is one of the finest artistes in Hindi cinema today. “There is a scene in which she is running after her children. It was a physically and emotionally daunting sequence, and the team, along with Rani, nailed it.”