‘Heaven on Earth’, the first feature from noted Indian filmmaker Deepa Mehta, highlighting the prevalence of abuse and domestic violence in the immigrant community, has premiered at the prestigious 33rd Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in Toronto.
The film, the first feature from Mehta’s closet after the acclaimed elements trilogy – Fire, Earth and Oscar-nominated Water, has “moved [her] the deepest”, Mehta said.
Mehta, who was present along with her entire team, including lead actress Preity Zinta for the screening, introduced the film’s cast to the audience at a press conference in Toronto on Sunday.
“I took so many risks with this film,” she said.”There was the hand-held camera, doing it on 16 mm, trying to portray a character’s sense of isolation entirely in black-and-white. Many of these things I found just moved me on a human level.”
The film revolves around a Punjabi woman, played by Zinta, who moves from India to Canada after marrying an NRI, only to become a victim of domestic violence at the hands of an abusive husband.
“It’s about immigration and about domestic violence, but it’s also about home. It isn’t just about India either, these are universal issues. We’re not pointing fingers, we just want people to accept that there are such problems in the world and we need to do something to make it better,” Zinta said.
Inspired partly by Roddy Doyle’s novel ‘The Woman who Walked into Doors’ and partly by a woman Mehta met in Edmonton who’d been abused for nine years before leaving her husband and joining the police force, ‘Heaven on Earth’ proved to be a challenging shoot for both the filmmaker and cast.
“It was the toughest I’ve ever done,” Mehta said, “it was minus-20 degrees. Icicles start forming on your nose, your mouth freezes and you have to say ‘Cut’.”