Videsh is the title of the Hindi version of Deepa Mehta’s film Heaven on Earth which was premiered at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival.
The controversial Indian-born-Canadian director is well-known for her Elements Trilogy : Fire (1996), 1947 Earth (1998) and Water (2005).
Both Earth and Water had been nominated for the Oscars in the category of Best Foreign Language Film in 2000 and 2007 respectively.
Deepa Mehta has made it her style to take uncommon themes and deal with them in an unconventional way.
Videsh explores the issue of domestic violence at different levels and multiple context in terms of the protagonist where the nearration is nearly linear.
Chand (Priety Zinta) a young woman, having her own dreams of her own family life with her comfort zone firmly ensconced in the world of mythological stories narrated by her mother, is uprooted from her familiar familial surroundings in Ludhiana, Punjab, India, and planted as wife to Rocky (Vansh Bharadwaj) among his traditional Punjabi family in Brampton, Ontorio, Canada.
The family of Rocky appears to be insulated from the alien culture surrounding them. Chand soon becomes an ill-treated domestic help and a punching bag to her husband’s whims and fancies.
There is a flicker of hope for Chand in the person of Rosa (Yanna McIntosh) when the two slog it off in a laundry.
Videsh then goes through Asterix-Druid-type magic potions and snakes and no ladders.
This is the protagonist’s film and Priety Zinta gives an unforgettable performance in a de-glam role which is etched to portray suffering in silence and a feeling of solace in mythological hallucinations. The role is such that the character does not just put up with domestic violence but then appears to accept the situation with an inner dignity as her conscience escapes into mythological make-believe.
Videsh is a director’s filmand writer-director Deepa Mehta used layers of surrealism on contours of realistic existence with the symbolic snake alleviating the protagonist’s ultimate agony…the physical pain and emotional trauma not touching the spiritual fringe through the self-delusion of fictional myth.
The issue of domestic violence is not meant to find a solution or even a comment in Videsh and what Mehta did was exploring the life and times of a unwitting victim who gains her strength from the past, has no plans of a future and lives in the present by ignoring it.
The director succeeds in provoking you into a nauseating fatigue at the scenes of mindless domestic violence and wonder how many hapless Chands are there in the world.
Cinematography by Giles Nuttgen is commendable, particularly in building the gloomy moods of a lifeless in-laws family and its incongruous lifestyle.
Videsh is not for any movie-goer, not even the regular metro-multiplex going movie buff.
Those who wish to appreciate the aesthetics of Deepa Mehta’s film making, her celluloid idioms, cinematic metaphors and audio-visual symbolisms, should go and watch Heaven on Earth, the English version of Videsh, where the title is aptly suitable to the emotional ambience of Chand, the protagonist of the film.
The Cast and Crew
Writer & Director : Deepa Mehta
Preity Zinta … Chand
Balinder Johal … Maji
Rajinder Singh Cheema … Papaji
Gourrav Sihan … Baldev
Vansh Bhardwaj … Rocky
Geetika Sharma … Loveleen
Orville Maciel … Kabir
Ramanjit Kaur… Aman
2.75 out of 5
Review by Deen Kumar