New Delhi, Nov 4 (IANS) She's already bagged an award for her power-packed performance as a battered wife in "Heaven On Earth", but Bollywood star Preity Zinta says she was humiliated when co-star Vansh Bhardwaj, who plays her abusive husband, slapped her while shooting a scene.
"When we were shooting the film, there was a scene where my co-star had to slap me and, of course, it was a mistake as he took one step forward and actually went smack across my face. It was the most humiliating experience of my life because everyone saw me getting slapped," Preity told IANS in an interview.
Preity got the Silver Hugo Award for best actress in the Feature Film Competition section at the 44th Chicago International Film Festival Oct 29.
The mishap on the sets of director Deepa Mehta's film brought Preity closer to reality and made her understand the character better.
"It changed my whole perception towards my role and I realised that it's so terrible to strip a woman of her spirit. It's better to die than to let your spirit die. This film took me to another zone; it just shattered me because I am someone who would immediately stand up for myself," she said.
Known for her chirpy, bubbly and garrulous image in Bollywood, Preity would be seen at the receiving end in Mehta's film, which she says "completely broke" her heart.
She explained: "It was the most difficult film of my career. It's also a film that completely broke my heart. I remember asking a woman, who was a victim of domestic violence and had left her husband, what the turning point in her relationship was and she said, 'I told my husband if you want to beat me, beat me in a room. But don't beat me in front of the family.'
"I could never understand that. Beating someone is bad and it doesn't matter if it's alone or in front of others. It's terrible. I really didn't know what it was to be in a situation like this till I did the film."
Preity has of late been accepting non-commercial projects, including the recently released "The Last Lear" and Jahnu Barua's "Har Pal".
Why the sudden interest in off-beat films?
"I did 'Heaven on Earth' because I thought if a commercial actor like me ventured into something like this, it would provide a broader platform. It was something that really inspired me and I was very excited about. I always played stronger roles so this was a change for me.
"I'm happy that the film will get more eyeballs thanks to the recognition it has got. To me, I'll be ultimately happy if every family will see the film, especially the men," said Preity.
The actress said that while the movie did not have "the trappings of music and song and dance", it was still very close to her heart "because it tackles immigration; it tackles domestic violence - topics that we like to brush under the carpet".
The year so far has brought her much critical acclaim as her performances in both "The Last Lear" and "Heroes" were widely appreciated.
The actress added that she would return to her trademark girl-next-door image only if she was offered a role with "substance".
"I will do masala movies for sure, but I would like to have substance in them. I can't do just the glam chick any longer. I've been there, done that. It just doesn't inspire me any more. I have to leave that for the other girls to do. That's the way one grows," she said.
Preity's "Heaven on Earth" will have its worldwide commercial release in November end and she will also be seen in "Har Pal" and "Main Aur Mrs. Khanna".