Home’s where heaven is

It was a closely guarded secret. All the while she was here,Deepa Mehta preferred to go about her work like an invisible,and most likely expected her team to be incognito too.

Published: March 26, 2009 3:52 am

Deepa Mehta’s city team from ‘Heaven on Earth’ shares some ‘heavenly’ moments

It was a closely guarded secret. All the while she was here,Deepa Mehta preferred to go about her work like an invisible,and most likely expected her team to be incognito too. Not a single media meddle,the job was carried out to perfection. Except for the occasional buzz around Preity Zinta,Heaven On Earth carried on with the shoot as scheduled. Now that it’s releasing this Friday,the film’s team has come of their ‘hiding’ and share some ‘heavenly’ moments with us. From actors,choreographers to dancers,musicians and production assistants,this talented bunch from the city are all set to dazzle on the silver screen. Interestingly,most of them,including Gick Grewal,Ramanjit and Vansh Bhardwaj (the lead) were picked after watching Neelam Man Singh’s play,Nagamandala.

* THE SILENT OBSERVER: In the film,she’s a woman of few words,one who has accepted her fate and carries on,for the sake of her family. “Her name is Aman,and has been married in Canada for about 15 years,” tells Ramanjit who plays Preity’s husband Vansh’s sister in the film. “It’s not that she’s emotionless,she’s loving and affectionate and sympathetic towards Chand’s (Preity’s) situation. In a way,Chand reminds her of when she was young,bubbly,full of life,chirpy,but then life’s hardships make her quiet and resilient,” Ramanjit’s character lives with an unemployed husband,and keeps advising Chand in simple one lines. “I tell her to accept her fate,apologise,and that her brother is a nice guy who’s having an equally tough time,” she adds.

For Ramanjit,Aman’s role came after Deepa saw her in Nagamandala and interwove the essence of the storyline in Videsh/Heaven on Earth. Before this,Ramanjit had a cameo in Fire,where she played mother to a young Shabana Azmi. “In fact,it was that one line in the film that changes Shabana…life is so expansive,don’t make it limited,says her mother,” Ramanjit recalls her lines. As for Deepa,“she brings out the little subtleties within you and teaches you to be absolutely quiet yes visible,” says Ramanjit.

Deepa,adds,Ramanjit,had made a documentary with a similar story,and the protagonist was a real woman called Aman. “There are rising cases of domestic violence and girls face a lot of hardships abroad. One of my grand aunts in Canada has taken in some of these women as tenants….it’s a recurring phenomenon and now there are societies supporting these women. When you don’t have a support system,you tend to become a punching bag for others,this is what Chand faces in the film,and the snake is a metaphor,her dream and desire to live a better life. The strength always comes from your dreams,” Ramanjit urges women to dream and fight for a good life.

* PERFECT SCORE: The promos are on,and Kanghi Bawan is already a song on everyone’s lips. And it’s the work of city musicians Hari Singh and Sukhmani Malik. While Hari’s improvised on the score,Sukhmani’s sung this traditional song re-written in part Hindi and part Punjabi by Surjit Patar. “It’s our first film project,and I’m really excited to see how it turns out,” Hari’s hoping for more gates to open. “We got it by sheer accident. Deepa was in town for recording,we played and she liked it,” as simple was that!

* BEHIND THE SCENES: He doesn’t want his name to feature anywhere,nor his photograph,but one thing Kabir Singh can’t change is the fact that he worked on the production team of Heaven on Earth. “Location hunter,art work,set design,extras coordination…” Kabir goes on. In fact,he zeroed in on the old Manimajra Fort and the cluster of houses around it for a village setting in the film. “The families were so helpful there,” he recalls. Talk about the first film experience,and he says it has left him disciplined. “Bollywood stands in complete contrast to Deepa’s style of working. We were supposed to get up at 3:30 am,get only two hours sleep,work as per the schedule…it was a huge learning process,” he says.

* SONG & DANCE: Courtesy famous choreographer Dolly Malkiat and her gidda-bhangra party,Deepa got her perfect traditional sangeet night. “We were told to come dressed from our homes,as if we were all going to a wedding!” Dolly has represented the country abroad,choreographed for films,TV serials,and apart from Videsh,done sequences for Ek – Power of One too. “Preity knew little about gidda,but she’s a fast learner,” Dolly and her daughter,are with her in the opening dance sequence. “You know,it was done with no make-up and had my students in it too,including this guy,Soni who can give any girl a competition in gidda,” she laughs. Right now,watch her judge the Gidda-Bhangra Gold Cup contest on MH1.

* THE STRENGTH: She has a small but significant role. Gick Grewal plays mother to Preity Zinta and it’s her words of wisdom that gives Preity’s character the strength and will to change her life. “Before her marriage,I tell her that everyone has strength in them,and it should be used when it’s needed the most. So don’t be afraid,and don’t give in,live and fight,” only a mother can say that! !

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