Years ago I’ve read an interesting play written by India’s finest playwright Girish Karnad based on Kannada folk tales named ‘Naga Mandala’. It’s one of the finest drama which told the folktale of an oppressed wife named Rani & her abusive husband. The cruel husband always keeps her locked inside the home whenever he went out. One day she got magical seeds from an old lady to transform her husband sane & loving one. She crushed them & mixed it in milk & served it to her husband but he refused it & throws it outside the window. Outside the window a hungry Cobra drank the milk. The next day as soon as her husband moves out of the house, the cobra transforms into the disguise of her husband came inside the house & became humble towards Rani & started love making to her. Unaware about the transformation of cobra, Rani realized totally opposite, hostile & violent husband when her real husband returns in the evening & starts behaving cruelly. Slowly this becomes routine & on one fine day she realized that she’s pregnant. In the climax in order to prove her innocence & loyalty to her husband, she is supposed to give testimony taking an oath touching King Cobra & as a part of poetic justice she comes out Scot free in the end.
Director Deepa Mehta’s this film represented the sub plot of this cobra transformation mythology based on theme of Indian domestic violence on women. She always tried to highlight the theme of women empowerment against the male dominated family & society but now it’s high time for her to make something different instead of repeating the same subject with heavy tone. Is Deepa making film just to represent herself in Various International Film Festivals or is she making films for the Indian Audience is difficult question to answer.
The film is almost in Punjabi, the English title of the film is ‘Heaven on Earth’. Preity Zinta plays the leading role of Chand, a young bubbly Punjabi bride finds herself in fixed arranged marriage with rough, dry & abusive husband in Canada. Everything is unfamiliar for newly married bride; she tried to settle herself with grace & hope in this distant & different world. But soon rays of hope disappear during their honeymoon. Instead of love she encounters the rough violent husband. She becomes isolated in the hostile home. As her husband is unemployed & good for nothing, she has to start working in a laundry to economically support the extended family. Here she meets a Jamaican Lady named Rosa. She gave her a magical root to transform her husband a loving one. And from here onwards the movie takes a different trajectory based on above mentioned play by Karnad & rest of the film is totally rip off based on the play.
If we keep aside Preity’s underplay acting & the mythological sheshnaag tale aside there’s nothing new to ponder in this film. Director Deepa Mehta is repeating the same record of hackneyed theme portraying unsettling plight of women in man dominated society displaying disturbing domestic violence & atyaachar on poor protagonist Preity. More or less watching this heavy film fails to convey anything out of the box. One also required a pain killer before & after watching film like this.
You are not missing anything if you avoid film like this.
P.S- Writing such a long review of film like this is also in a way a futile exercise & it also didn’t deserve the valuable space like this.