MUMBAI: Preity Zinta didnâ€™t know a word of Punjabi when she signed Heaven On Earth, a Deepa Mehta film that was to be shot entirely in Punjabi.
But Preity did manage to learn the language in a short span of 50 days. â€œYou could call it a crash course,â€ she says. â€œBut I only mastered the dialogues that I was required to mouth in the film. Heaven On Earth wasnâ€™t a film about faking emotions. I had to deliver my dialogue and feel the emotions,â€ she adds.
Language wasnâ€™t the only research area for Preity for Heaven On Earth. She read a lot of material and sat through documentaries on domestic violence.
Being seriously involved in a subject of such a violent nature took its toll on Preity. She was severely traumatised by the experience of playing a battered wife. In the film, she is repeatedly smacked by her on-screen husband (Vansh Bhardwaj).
Many times, Preity ended up raising her fist to retaliate, much to the annoyance and amusement of the director and her co-star. Recalling the experience, Preity says, â€œIt was extremely difficult for me to take on the violence. Iâ€™m the kind of girl who would immediately hit back. If you slap me once, Iâ€™ll slap you twice.â€ Preity was allowed no make-up in the film. â€œNo wigs either,â€ she says. â€œDeepa made me wear hair extensions that were naturally woven into my hair to give me the perfect Punjabi look. If I arrived to the sets after a good nightâ€™s sleep, they applied black make-up around my eyes to give me a troubled look.â€