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Nov 11, 2008 at 01:01am IST

Deepa Mehta says she was stunned by Preity Z

Director Deepa Mehta's latest movie Heaven on Earth starring Preity Zinta, was the opening night film at the Indo-American Arts Council film festival in New York. The film which stars Preity Zinta, focuses on domestic violence. She spoke with CNN-IBN's Anirudh Bhattacharyya about the film.

CNN-IBN: Deepa, in your new film 'Heaven On Earth ', you practically go back to home in this film, in terms of being shot around in Toronto. So, how much did you borrow from what you knew about things around you in terms of making this film?

Deepa Mehta: You know, my two homes are India and Canada. It was wonderful because in Heaven On Earth they both came together. I am very familiar with Toronto and Heaven On Earth is shot in Brampton which is a suburb of Toronto. I had never been there in my life till we started shooting a film there. So as we were shooting the film and looking for locations, it was a real discovery of the suburbs of Toronto which you know exist but take pretty much for granted.But living there day in and day out was an experience that blew me away.

CNN-IBN: Also, a discovery I guess of the Punjabi immigrant experience in Canada, especially one aspect of which you explore here with Preity Zinta. Tell me a little bit about that.

Deepa Mehta: Well, Heaven On Earth is a film about a working class immigrant family in Toronto, which happens a lot in Toronto but I do not know about here. That mileu is a very particular mileu. The family is a joint family where they all live together under one roof, an extended family. The pressures of living together, the expectations and the pressures of bring together the brothers who have been left behind, that host of baggage that happens in that community, in this aspect was fascinating finding out more about it.

CNN-IBN: How did you come to cast Preity Zinta?

Deepa Mehta: Well, I had written Heaven On Earth and was in England I think. And I met Preity there and we started talking not about Heaven and Earth. I noticed that she was so bright, so intelligent and such a social conscience that she blew me away. That one moment was like pfinny, that she is Chand, which is the lead character. So I offered it to her, she read the script and in two days said Yes!