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Heaven on Earth

In: Film and Music

Submitted By livelylife
Words 3060
Pages 13
The Team & Some Facts
¬ Producer – David Hamilton
¬ Director/ Writer – Deepa Mehta
¬ Cast
♣ Chand – Preity Zinta
♣ Rocky - Vansh Bhardwaj
♣ Maji - Balinder Johal
♣ Papaji – Rajinder Singh Cheema
♣ Aman – Ramanjit Kaur
♣ Baldev – Gourrav Sihan
♣ Kabir – Orville Maciel
♣ Loveleen – Geetika Sharma
¬ Location Shot – Punjab in India, Brampton/Toronto, Niagara Falls.
¬ Interesting Quotes
♣ “Aren’t I who you desire?” – Cobra as Rocky
♣ “How is this possible? To scowl one minute and laugh the next...” - Chand
♣ “Can our desires be so powerful, that they take on human form and walk right into our lives?” – Chand
♣ “Better hell than a heaven with no dignity” – Papaji
♣ “Who were you talking to?”- Rocky
“Surely not you...” - Chand
¬ Insight – Deepa Mehta is a renowned Canadian Director working on social issues surrounding the women from different eras. She has given many noticeable works like Earth, Water and Fire. The movie Heaven on Earth was premiered at various film festivals such as Grand Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), the Edmonton International Film Festival and the Kingston Canadian Film Festival.
¬ Awards – Best Actress (Silver Hugo) award for Preity Zinta (Chand) at the Chicago International Film Festival.
¬ Underlying Concept – The Power of Imagination.
¬ Genre – Family Drama
¬ Inspiration – Nagamandala, a Kannada play.

Heaven on Earth (Deepa Mehta, 2008) is family drama of an untold and dark promise of a better tomorrow and dynamics of family change. It is the story of a dysfunctional Punjabi family which depends on the son, a taxi driver and the sole bread earner to feed seven members of the family and somehow bring his extended family to Canada. It is a depiction of a woman’s optimism and positivity for a better tomorrow amidst of all the chaos. It is a tale which takes the audience from various highs and lows of an Indian immigrated family. It speaks about the austerity of people who emigrate from one country to another, from one culture to another, from a difficult world to a world that is even worse. Isolation, loneliness and the pain of being from family takes a toll on the immigrant family members. The aspects of abusive arranged marriage, overbearing matriarch, spoiled son and callous family and major cultural elements such as immigration in search of greener pastures, King cobra from a folk tale, domestic violence and escape into surrealism knocks off the viewers and forces them to ponder on what exactly define the Indo Canadian norms and ideologies as. It raises questions about cultural norms and family values in India, specifically in Punjabi Culture. Chand (Preity Zinta), a vibrant and lovely girl who is leaving her home in Ludhiana, Punjab for Brampton, Canada to marry Rocky (Vansh Bhardwaj) whom she has never met. She approaches her new life and the new land with grace. The optimism of hope keeps her strung to the dream of brighter future and better life, which she is holding on to. They exchange vows in the Sikh Temple in the cool blue white light of Canadian winter with her first snowfall. Soon enough she realizes that new her family lives in a poor and miserable lifestyle. The seven members of the family reside in a two bedroom bungalow all depending on Rocky, who is expected to earn money for living and to bring his extended family to Canada. This portrayal life of immigrants in suburbs of Toronto is realistic and authentic. The new couple head to Niagara Falls for their honeymoon and is soon disrupted by the overprotective mother. Chand asks for another bedroom to spend the night and Rocky responds with his fists. And suddenly, all the positive potential drains like color from frame with a poem describing so. This is the first time when such physical abuse is revealed in the movie with many more to follow. Days pass and another abusive kitchen drama follows. Rosa, a Jamaican- Canadian colleague at work sees past the makeup the bruises on Chand’s face. On Rosa’s advice, Chand puts the magical and seductive root in her husband’s drink but instead Rocky falls sick and blame her as an attempt to poison him. King Cobra, who can take form of a human being, is enchanted with her and begins to visit her every night in the form of her husband. The family finds about it from the two day renters who are informed by her that she is with her husband and she is asked to prove her fidelity by Naag Parikhya- putting her hand in the snake burrow and taking a vow that she has not been sleeping with another person. It is a belief that if any person lies holding the snake in their hand, they will be instantly killed by the snake God. She puts her hand in the burrow and holds the cobra in her hand, around her neck and attests. Since she was telling the truth, the cobra renders her harmless and she leaves the house forever. The movie shows a striking reality of Immigrant families and the hardships they live through. It shows the isolation of the first generation working class immigrant as it is the one which suffers the most. The people emigrate from their countries to new nations in search of greener pasture. These people assume that life in the great north would be better than one in India at least in terms of physical comforts. The emotional comforts don’t count as much as the isolation and loneliness kick in which literally suck out the life out of them. The ache of fitting into the new culture and new place dries them out. They are stuck in amid of the two cultures and not knowing which one to hang on to. In the movie, Rocky is a taxi driver trying to make the ends meet. He is not only expected to earn money for the living expenses but also to find money to bring his extended family to Canada. He lives in a financial crisis and unable to express his desperation, he lets it all out on his wife. The house in the movie is used as a financial resource as well by renting the two beds to night workers when everyone else is at work during the day. He is surrounded by a controlling mother who can’t let him go, a rational father and a sister whose two children and unemployed husband are also a burden. He is engaged in a loop to make money with no outlet for his stress. Immigration for him is shown as hell. We also the two kids in the movie trying to figure out what cultures do they actually belong to and how do they figure that out. The girl is scared every time she sees her aunt getting beaten up as an animal. She is confused about how her future will be. The teenager boy is enraged at the fact that he has to share the house with two other people. He does not get his space and privacy. Such is a pandemonium of immigrant families and the society. Mehta gives us an insight into the realm of domestic violence and arranged marriages in a male dominant society. Arranged Marriages have been a very agitated issue in Indian community. It has somehow decreased in some families but it still persists in most of the homes. Families in India send their daughters to far away countries to marry a man they have never met. They even pay them huge amounts of money (or some other kind of dowry) as an exchange for the daughter being brought to Canada. Here, Chand’s family send her to Canada with about 20,000 dollars to marry Rocky. This can be considered as a form of dowry. It is another norm from India that people have not stopped following in spite of all the laws against it. Domestic violence exists in countless Indian homes where usually a wife or daughter in law is treated as a punching bag by the family members. Sometimes it is the wrath of the husband and at other times exasperation of an overbearing matriarch. The women are just told to shut up and are left to the pity of society. Society is considered a very important factor in letting out any such issues. It is considered as a shame when an Indian woman goes against the family to report abuse to the police. A mother in law in a house holds the family together. It is a cultural norm in India. She has her position and she is not going to let it go, no matter what. The immigrants still continue to follow this ideology even when they know the law in Canada, as in this case, is very strict about domestic violence. In spite of immigrating to a country full of wonderful life changing opportunities and far more liberal human rights, they still hang to their mindsets. No education or law can try to change it. In the movie, we see that Chand, an optimistic wife, gets smacked on the face by her husband on their honeymoon night only because she had asked to get another room to spend the night. The loyal son Rocky is, gets vexed since he finds her interrupting the conversation, disrespectful to his mother. He does not want his mother to feel that her daughter in law controls his son or makes any decisions. Chand is trembled by the hit. And her mother in law consoles her by saying “Don’t cry, child. This is normal in married life”. Mehta emphasizes the drain of the Chand’s optimism by first blow of violence by actually switching background from colour to black and white. She also gives us a comprehension of Chand’s feelings in the form of surreal narratives (poems). Chand expresses her longing to meet her mother, her country and cry to her about the pain. Mehta uses the colour change and narratives throughout the movie to contrast the Canadian reality and the desired fantasy co-existing in all the abused women across the cold nation. Few elements of Indian culture- magic and folk tale of King Cobra are shown in a very descriptive way. The magic roots given by Rosa to Chand to seduce her husband for instant love do not serve its purpose. But instead, magic of surrealism enters her life. She suffers, she cries and resents that she would have to live her life in such a mess. She does not blame anybody but still lives with it. She turns her difficulties to her strengths. She escapes into a landscape where her life is perfect with the same family and her husband. Chand establishes a world that is better, a “Heaven on Earth”. The magic of surrealism gives her the power to survive through every day. She recites in a whisper, beautiful lines of poetry. She creates an image of day to day life, when she is a beloved mother and wife and a proud woman who does not have to hide her bruises from the world. Her fantasy world shows her husband shift from assailant to protector and quotes, “How is this possible? To scowl one minute and laugh the next....” She would see her husband laughing with her and pleasing her once and the next minute he hits her and shatters her world. The tale of King Cobra reveals the complexity of human life. Seemingly, the cobra is enchanted by Chand and wants to help her. (It could be a fragment of her imagination which we will talk about next). The cobra shape shifts into Rocky and starts visiting Chand every night. She talks to him thinking it was her husband. The Cobra lets Chand believe that it was her real world and that her husband is a changed man. Chand is an image of an Indian woman’s desperation to win the affections of her husband. When Chand notices the change in her husband, she is thrilled not knowing the reality is sneaking around the corner to be revealed. She once sees the image of cobra in the mirror where Rocky was standing. She asks him, “Who are you?” He replies, “Aren’t I who you desire”. Her desire of a happy life had the cobra allured and was helping her live the dream. But soon enough the family finds out, she has been apparently sleeping with another guy. She is scared and the cobra advises her to tell her family that she would vow by the cobra in the pit behind their house that she is telling the truth. She was being ripped off her dignity which the Cobra tries to give her back to. She asserts and the cobra calmly sat around her neck and they all have no other option but to believe her. The cobra folk tale is used to even attest a person’s innocence. Such is an extent of faith in supernatural powers and folk tales in Indian community. She is then saved by her own fantasy world and leaves that house to live her own life. A character in the movie quotes, “Better hell than a heaven with no dignity”. Her character truly follows this quote and gives us something to ponder about the women living in the abused houses all over the world. An important technical aspect talked about in the whole essay is the color change to black and white. The movie shows us number of scenes with such transition. The roaring Niagara Falls, a well known symbol of Canada, is shown black and white to emphasize the beginning of how everything was going to go downhill from that moment onwards. The huge Ferris wheel and the Clifton hill wash away the night’s darkness with the decorated lights. But in the movie, it is shown as black and white to address how the life was not looking good for Rocky who was trying to sleep in his taxi after the hotel incident. It showed the dark side of Canada. It represents the depression prevailing behind all the happiness. Each time Chand recites a poem, the change comes into effect. The black and white background symbolizes her fantasy world. While reciting the poems, she enters her own world. In the backyard scene, when Chand is asked to vow by the Cobra and the cobra calmly sits around her neck, it marks her innocence. The color is changed to black and white again and it now represents her victory over the violence of her family and husband. She comprehends all the Cobra incidents and smirks learning that her imagination really helped her live through this hell and could now be free bird. The last and the important aspect of the movie is “power of imagination”. The viewers can see for themselves how Chand, a positive woman continues to live on with her own ideas of perfect life after being treated as an animal. Her desire for a sophisticated life is so strong that she could actually live with it every day thinking it was real. In the movie, when she sees a transition in her husband and figures that the cobra might be shape shifting to live the ideal life, she asks herself, “Can our desires be so powerful, that they take on human form and walk right into our lives?” She is forced to ask herself that can my craze and aspiration for my husband’s and his family’s love and affection be so strong that an animal actually shape shifts to fulfill my fervour despite the sad reality. She lives her through imagination. The power of imagination gives her something to hold on to. She conveys an on screen lesson for all the women who are suffering from the domestic violence to do something about it and not just live with it. She confers them to use their imagination to liberate themselves when the reality becomes so grim. The longing to meet her mother in her poems reflects how she misses her home and country. Every time the poem followed an incident in the movie, it would change colors to emphasize the feelings and depth of Chand’s dilemma. While going through all the hardships, she tries to get in contact with her mother but no in vain. The only way she talked to her mother was her imagination. She wanted her mother with her to console her, so she decided to imagine that she is already there. In one of her poems, she asks the water flowing through the ocean to take her along to her mother. She decided not to accept her present circumstances because she had realised that if she uses the power of imagination, she will not be limited by external conditions. She will be in charge and could easily experience without being at the pity of others. Mehta leaves us to think about various questions about our views of modern society. She forces us to think about the social values in today’s world and why and how do they differ so much in reality. Are we all living in a fantasy? She wants the abused women to step up and share their stories and complain to the law. She demands them to attain their lost dignity. She also reveals the disturbing reality of immigrant families and their early lives in Canada. She challenges the male dominant society to take into consideration the fact that women are not punching bags and should be respected equally. She ponders on the social norms of dowry and arranged marriages. A question that she wants us to acknowledge is, Is Canada really a better place for the immigrants who leave their culture, but can’t leave the ancient and over exaggerated societal values? Should immigrants come to Canada and step into a well of darkness? Why do the women in India not realize that they were daughters themselves before becoming mother in laws? Heaven on earth can be created by any abused woman who wishes to keep positive and optimistic views like Chand. She wants them to use their imagination to make things happen for them. The definition of the society needs to be changed in books of many over bearing matriarchs and spoiled sons who want women to survive with the physical wrath. The law in Canada prioritizes to save the women from domestic violence when known. So, should women really live in a heaven with no dignity?

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...Myths Across Regarding Creation Although there are a great number of creation myths that are propagated by people of Chinese descent, virtually all of them acknowledge Pan Gu. Those that due generally state that Pan Gu was the first being and that all existence in the universe—especially the earth and the heavens—is comprised of this being. The general story of Pan Gu begins with his conception inside of an egg. In that egg is the yin and the yang, the notion of duality which brings an eternal harmony and balance to life. The egg is a cosmic egg, one of the very first things in existence. Most tradition regarding Pan Gu contends that he matures within his egg for 18,000 years prior to bursting out of it (some traditions say he utilizes an ax for this purpose). What is key about this part of the story is that from Pan Gu’s destruction of the cosmic egg, the upper portion of it formed the heaven and the lower portion of it formed the earth. Pan Gu grew between the earth and the heavens for another 18,000 years, during which time both of these regions matured. Pan Gu was male, and is therefore akin to the universal father of all. Moreover, everything that exists in the earth is quite literally a part of his body after he dies. His eyes, for example become the sun and the moon, his breath becomes the wind, his blood forms rain and water, his hair becomes the stars. In this specific way, Pan Gu’s body is the essence of all that exists in the universe. There are some versions...

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Their Eyes Were Watching God Analysis

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