Heaven on Earth (2008)
Directed by: Deepa Mehta
Writer: Deepa Mehta
Starrting: Preity Zinta (Chand), Balinder Johal (Maji), Rajinder Singh Cheema (Papaji), Gourrav Sihan (Baldev), Vansh Bhardwaj (Rocky), Geetika Sharma (Loveleen), Orville Maciel (Kabir), Raman-jit Kaur (Aman)
I have a very bad habit of fast forwarding a film to its end before I begin to see it, especially, if I am seeing it on my laptop; that's where I mostly see my movies. I don't believe in suspense. Frankly, I cannot handle suspense. I must know how the film ends. After that I can settle down and see how the end unfolds.
So, as I was doing the same with Heaven On Earth (Or Videsh, as it is released in India; I was seeing the Hindi/Punjabi version.), and after a few frame, I knew this was 'Nagamandala,' a play I am very fond of. I think this is one of Girish Karnad's masterpieces.
But ‘Nagamandala’ in Canada? That's the problem with Deepa Mehta's Heaven or Videsh. We don't blame her for trying to do something different, only if she had succeeded in doing so. Mehta has been acclaimed as a realistic director and showed ample proof of it in her element trilogy ‘Fire,’ ‘Earth’ and especially ‘Water.’ We can conveniently ignore ‘Hollywood/Bollywood.’ So, when she tries to tell us a quasi-mythical (mystical) tale set in all too-real Canada and in an all too-real background of domestic violence, something goes missing. (The film is not even a adaptation of Nagamandala for that matter, but rather inspired by it...) The things about the 'love potion' and 'nag pariksha' does not really fit into the landscape, it's okay if it happens in some remote village in India... And like ‘Fire,’ at the end, the film's protagonist, Chand, takes a stand, she leaves the house; but it's too late and too hurried and without much impact.
The film had potential. It could have been a rejoinder to 'Provoked' and it ends up being nothing.
Yet, the film is and will always be a milestone for Preity Zinta, for the transformation from a girl who speaks her mind to a bruised wife longing for love. She is marvellous.
Debutant Vansh Bhardwaj is as the mercurial Rockey is good in patches, though he reminds you of Yashpal Sharma.