Of late Preity Zinta has been gravitating towards a neo-realistic cinema. After working with Rituparno Ghosh and Jahnu Barua in The Last Lear and Har Pal, Preity's latest creative acquisition is none other than Deepa Mehta who has earlier worked with 'method' actresses like Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das.
Now in a sudden and unexpected move Deepa has finalized Preity Zinta to play the battered Punjabi wife in Heaven On Earth. Preity is over the moon. "I met Deepa a while back at the IIFA. She saw my film The Last Lear and loved it. I'm so glad I did this film. It has opened an entirely new door for me. I feel I'm born anew. Right now I'm hungering for a new kind of acting challenge. Doing Deepa's film is another step in the same direction. She's one director I've been longing to work with. When I read the script I said, this is it." Deepa who decided to do this start-to-finish quickie before plunging into the Hollywood biggie Luna with John Abraham, Rachel Weisz, Dustin Hoffman and Chris Cooper, was on the look-out for the right face, personality and approach for the role.
"And I think Preity is perfect!" says Deepa from Toronto where she's now preparing to shoot Heaven On Earth. "I first met Preity at IIFA earlier this year. I was stuck by her positivity and her hungering for opportunities to stretch herself as an actress. We talked about the real-life character of a Punjabi housewife who goes through the nightmare of domestic violence. Preity was keen. But the dates were a problem. They've now been worked out. And Preity is on."
The shooting for Deepa (and Preity's) first Punjabi film begins in October. But before that in the middle of September Preity will be attending a workshop in Toronto. "To understand and come to grips with the character's milieu and body language. I think Preity can look very very Punjabi," observes Deepa.