You are here

Videsh – Heaven on Earth – movie review

A young bride's journey from Ludhiana to Canada


Videsh - Heaven on Earth, movie review

The film inspired by Girish Karnad’s play Nagamandala’s Hindi title is Videsh, for international market it is ‘Heaven on Earth’.

Chand (Preity Zinta) journeys from India to Canada to marry Rocky (Vansh Bhardwaj), a man she has never met and to live with her husband’s extended family in Brampton. Soon trapped between tradition and the desire for happiness, she retreats into a parallel mythical world. But when myth and reality collide Chand must choose between duty and freedom. Videsh – Heaven on Earth movie review…

Vibrant and irrepressibly alive, Chand is a young bride leaving her home in Ludhiana, India, for the cavernous landscape of Brampton, Ontario, where her husband Rocky (Vansh Bhardwaj) and his very traditional family await her arrival. Everything is new to Chand; everything is unfamiliar including the quiet and shy Rocky who she meets for the first time at the Arrivals level of Pearson Airport. Chand approaches her new life and her new land with equanimity and grace, and at times the wide-eyed optimism of hope—her first snowfall is a tiny miracle of beauty, and the roar of Niagara Falls creates the excitement of new beginnings.

But soon optimism turns to isolation as the family she has inherited struggles beneath the weight of unspoken words, their collective frustration becoming palpable. No one feels the pressure more than Rocky, weighed down by familial obligations. A controlling mother who can’t let him go, a sweet but ineffectual father, and a sister whose two children and unemployed husband are also a burden. All live with Rocky and Chand in a two-bedroom house in the suburbs of Toronto. To make matters worse, Rocky is expected to find the money to bring his extended family to Canada. Unable to express his anger, he finds other ways to release it and it’s Chand who bears the brunt of his repressed rage.

Trapped in a world she cannot comprehend and unable to please her husband, Chand is desperate. Hope comes in the form of Rosa (Yanna McIntosh), a tough and savvy Jamaican-Canadian woman who works alongside Chand in a factory where immigrant women from all over the world clean and press dirty hotel laundry.

Rosa sees past the make-up that covers Chand’s bruised face. Realizing Chand has nowhere to turn, Rosa gives her a magical root advising her “to put it in whatever the person drinks.”

The root seduces the one who takes it, making them fall hopelessly in love with the person who gives it to them. Chand’s attempts with the magic root lead to surreal incidents and her life gradually begins to mirror an Indian fable involving a King Cobra. As the lines between fantasy and reality converge, Chand and Rocky come face to face with each other and themselves.

In Hindu mythology the King Cobra is the most feared and worshipped of all the snakes. Lord Shiva, the most powerful of the Hindu Gods, wears a King Cobra like a garland around his neck. This is to show he is beyond death. The King Cobra can also take any guise. When the snake appears to Chand, it comes in the form of a very loving and different Rocky. It is the Rocky she longs for and soon she cannot tell the two apart.

Preity Zinta ought to be lauded to select such roles as in Videsh – Heaven on Earth, and she has come out with an award winning performance. So apt she is for the role of Chand, that there is virtually no actress in Bollywood who could have done better. Known for her straightforward ways and liberated views, she has wonderfully acted the just opposite as Chand and one immediately sympathizes at her character. Newcomer Vansh Bhardwaj too is impressive.

Director Deepa Mehta has keen sense of details and a master of emotions and drama. In the second half when things take a supernatural twist, it just unexpected! A good watch for those who love fine cinema.

CAST of Videsh – Heaven on Earth:
Chand – Preity Zinta
Chand’s Mother – Gick Grewal
Rocky – Vansh Bhardwaj
Loveleen – Geetika Sharma
Kabir – Orville Maciel
Aman – Ramanjit Kaur
Maji – Balinder Johal
Papaji – Rajinder Singh Cheema
Baldev – Gourrav Sihan
Other Bride – Ramona Omidvar-Khullar
Priest – Balwinder Singh Chana
Cabby – Rodny Ahluwalia
Rosa – Yanna Mcintosh
Supervisor – Indiana Jagait
Rocky’s Friend – Dilbagh Dhaliwal
Teenager – Shainu Bala

Credits of Videsh – Heaven on Earth:
A Deepa Mehta Film
A Hamilton Mehta Production
In Co-Production With
The National Film Board Of Canada
Writer & Director – Deepa Mehta
Producer – David Hamilton
Director Of Photography – Giles Nuttgens
Production Designer – Dilip Mehta

Crew of Videsh – Heaven on Earth:
Editor – Colin Monie
Music Score By Mychael Danna
Sound Recordist – Sylvain Arseneault
Costume Designer – Rashmi Varma
Produced With The Participation Of
Telefilm Canada, Astral Media The Harold Greenberg Fund, Ontario Media Development Corporation
Produced In Association With The Movie Network, Cbc Television, Movie Central
Co-Producers – Anita Lee, Mehernaz Lentin
Executive Producers – Ravi Chopra, David Hamilton, Silva Basmajian, Deepa Mehta, Sanjay Bhuttiani

Other credits of Videsh – Heaven on Earth:
Line Producer/Production Manager – Stephen Traynor
First Assistant Director – David Mcaree
Second Assistant Director – Lorin Raine
Associate Producer – Richard Blonski
Art Director – Bill Layton
Special Effects Coordinator – Derek Liscoumb
Snake Wrangler – Tiger Paw Exotics
Snake Handler – Tim Height
Casting Director – Marsha Chesley
Photographer – Dusty Mancinelli
Associate Producer (India) – Swapna David
Unit Production Manager – Alok Kapur
Production Coordinator – Chandni Kumar
First Assistant Director – Siddhartha Luther
Second Assistant Director – Ananya Rane
Director’s Assistant & Locations – Kabir Singh
Videsh – Heaven on Earth, movie review