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Videsh (Heaven on Earth) March 30, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Punjabi, Reviews.
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The theme of domestic violence isn’t new (and isn’t too exciting either) but with someone like Deepa Mehta at the helm of things one surely does expect something interesting. Watching Deepa’s film turned out to be nowhere close to a “Heaven on Earth” experience for me. It was quite a frustrating film which at times seemed intriguing but never really got me involved.

The source material for this is a play by Girish Karnad called Naagmandala – from which you can infer has got to do something with a “Naag”. It is only towards the latter part of the film that you actually grab the significance of Preity’s monologues about some incomprehensible tale about “Sheshnaag”. Till that point it turns out to be most uninteresting and irritating part of the film. Coming back to the main proceedings I couldn’t really quite understand the cause of the treatment meted out to Chand (Preity Zinta) by her husband Rocky (Vansh Bharadwaj) and mother-in-law (Balinder Johal). Sometimes the reason seems to be plain anger vented out due to their financial condition; at times it is also suggested that Rocky himself is a victim of his seemingly overprotective mother and whatever he does to Chand could be a possible reaction to his own condition. Chand’s sister-in-law also speaks to her in a tone as if she knows the reason for everything happening in that house but never bothers to let it out.

Generally films pose questions without providing an answer but Videsh expects the viewer to come up with the questions as well. The only thing I liked is the way the film is shot. It is set in Canada but all you see is from the point of view of the protagonist i.e her house and her workplace which actually looks quite scary. But I could never really understand the significance of the black and white footage used randomly – initially it seemed like it referred to a relatively happy moment in Chand’s life but that doesn’t turn out to be the case.

Preity Zinta is too good and I must say she was the only reason I could sit through this. Until recently, I’ve never thought her to be a great performer but her last few films have proved otherwise. Vansh Bharadwaj is also excellent. You have to be extremely generous to the film to end up liking it. I tried hard but I couldn’t. Watch it if you have to only for Preity. I still am surprised that Deepa Mehta made such a contrived film like this.

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