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Heaven on Earth (2008)

Chand, a young Punjabi woman, travels to Canada to marry a man she has never met. They live in a crowded suburban house and Chand has to also put up with her husband's abusive behavior.


Deepa Mehta


Deepa Mehta
2 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Preity Zinta ... Chand Kaur Dhillon
Gick Grewal Gick Grewal ... Chand's Mother
Vansh Bhardwaj Vansh Bhardwaj ... Rocky Singh Dhillon
Geetika Sharma Geetika Sharma ... Loveleen Kaur Dhillong
Orville Maciel Orville Maciel ... Kabir Singh Dhillon
Ramanjit Kaur Ramanjit Kaur ... Aman
Balinder Johal ... Maji Dhillon
Rajinder Singh Cheema Rajinder Singh Cheema ... Papaji Dhillon
Gourrav Sihan Gourrav Sihan ... Baldev Singh Dhillon
Ramona Khullar Ramona Khullar ... Other Bride (as Ramona Omidvar-Khullar)
Balwinder Singh Chana Balwinder Singh Chana ... Priest
Rodny Ahluwalia Rodny Ahluwalia ... Cabby
Yanna McIntosh Yanna McIntosh ... Rosa
Indiana Jagait Indiana Jagait ... Supervisor
Dilbagh Dhaliwal Dilbagh Dhaliwal ... Rocky's Friend


Ludiana-based Chand gets married to Brampton-based Rocky Singh Dhillon and re-locates to Canada, to live with him and his extended family, consisting of his mom and dad; brother Baldev and his wife, Aman, and two children, Kabir and Loveleen. From the honeymoon stage itself, Chand gets physically abused by Rocky, and despite of bringing in $20K in dowry, she is immediately hired as a laborer even though she is a graduate and her wages are paid to her husband, and is not even permitted to call back home. Tenants occupy the house during the daytime, and the entire Dhillon family usually stay put in a shopping mall. Things only get worse after Rocky brutally assaults her in everyone's presence after she gets into a physical altercation with her mother-in-law. She manages to call back home wanting to return back, only to face discouragement, as her family want Rocky to sponsor her brother, Gurpreet. Things change dramatically after she claims she spotted Sheshnaag in the backyard, while ... Written by rAjOo (gunwanti@hotmail.com)

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Punjabi | English

Release Date:

24 October 2008 (Canada) See more »

Also Known As:

Le Paradis sur terre See more »

Filming Locations:

Brampton, Ontario, Canada See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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User Reviews

"Better hell than a heaven with no dignity"
14 August 2009 | by Peter_YoungSee all my reviews

It's hard to describe Heaven on Earth in one word or one sentence, and it's even more complicated to explain what it is about in one sentence. It has many aspects of our modern life which are touched so realistically and brilliantly by Deepa Mehta that few words could not describe them well enough. People mistakenly think the film is about domestic abuse, but it's far from being just about that. It is about immigration, the hardship of people who immigrate from one country to another, from one culture to another, from a difficult world to a world that is even worse. It is about isolation, loneliness and the pain of being far from your family. It is about the terrible consequences of arranged marriages. And of course, domestic violence, which is the main aspect that carries the narrative forward.

All these elements are thrown upon the main protagonist of this picture, Chand. A vibrant and lovely girl, she flies to Canada to marry a man she has never met. Ironaically enough, while people expect to see a brighter, better life for a person who immigrates from India to Canada, we discover that Chand's new family lives a poor, miserable lifestyle. The members of the family include seven people, all of whom live in a two-bedroom house. The striking portrayal of life of immigrants in the suburbs of Toronto is realistic and precise. Soon Chand becomes a brutally battered and abused wife who bears the brunt of her husband, Rocky's frustration. These scenes are just terrible to watch. Rocky is cruel and carefree when he beats her, and Chand is full of pain and fear. It's very easy to hate Rocky, but the fact is that he is also a victim of the circumstances, of all the responsibility thrown at him.

Preity Zinta's Chand is a wonderful and very well-written character. While it represents all the women-immigrants, all the abused women who are aware of domestic violence being a common part of their culture, it's great to see that in such a world there can be a woman who is so optimistic and positive. She suffers, she aches, she misses her mother, her country, she is desperate of thinking that she will have to live the rest of her life with a bunch of monsters, yet she never really loses her sense of life. She does not blame anyone, she does not hate anyone, she turns her difficulties into strengths, she turns her fears into valours by using her imagination. She creates a world that is better, and lives it. She creates a "Heaven on Earth".

Deepa Mehta intelligently displays magical realism in a rather extremist way. Every time Chand is maltreated by her husband, she starts reciting in a whisper beautiful poetic monologues, which efficiently illustrate her loneliness and yearning to see her mother and get back home. When she's alone, she imagines a better life where she is a beloved woman and wife, escaping the cruel reality but little knowing that it's surreal. I must note the scenes which turned black and white deliberately, which are symbolic of the film's meaning. All the sequences involving the snake may be confusing and unclear, but what I find great about them is that every viewer is free to interpret them just the way they want to. Here "the power of the imagination" (which could be an equally suitable title for the film) gets a double-meaning. The audience is given an opportunity to experience the same kind of confusion that Chand herself goes through.

Preity Zinta, in one of the finest performances of her career, is nothing short of spectacular as the struggling Chand. Heartfelt, nuanced, haunting and heartbreaking, this portrayal does not have a single false note. This role is contrary to Zinta's own image of a strong woman of substance, as well as most of her on-screen roles. And she pulls it so convincingly that it's almost impossible to believe it is the same woman who played so many happy-go-lucky characters in previous years. She displays helplessness, fear, despair, and at the same time a certain hope for a better day, with amazing subtlety, depth and pathos. Much of it is internal actually, and all you need to know is in her eyes. Just note the scene when she is looking through the bus window. There's so much pain in her eyes. It's just one bit of a really great performance. All the other cast members do a fine job and provide great support.

Overall, Heaven on Earth is an extraordinary, deep and intelligent piece, with a view on the social values of today's world. Mehta's presentation of the issue is correct, it's not one-sided and not biased. There are no bad or good people in this film. The characters in this film are all victims of the society. I loved this concept, I appreciated the well-written dialogues, the realistic and unexpected proceedings. The film is brilliantly directed and edited. It is definitely not for everyone, it is not particularly entertaining and many may consider it slow and tedious. It is only for those who can go through a difficult sight, flow with the story, and understand its meaning. I tried to do it, and I personally consider it a great social film with a very meaningful message, as well as a wonderful glimpse into a person's mind, who can be full of optimism and positivity despite the sad reality.

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