I kicked off my SFIAAFF festivities Saturday at the Castro with Heaven on Earth, and have been dreaming of cobras ever since. I was a bit jolted by director Deepa Mehta’s latest, given its disturbing subject matter, domestic violence, but was feeling fortunate to have seen the film — and not only because of the $1 popcorn night. (That’s right — thankfully, the kind folks at the Castro were well-prepared for the concession crowds; we observed tub upon tub of the stuff.)

Heaven on Earth is unrelated to Mehta‘s Elements trilogy, Fire, Earth, and Water, but no less dramatic. I’ve been asked not to reveal too much, so suffice it to say it’s a journey into the strength of a beautiful, young Indian woman transplanted from her home to the cold, dark reality of an abusive arranged marriage in Toronto. Love Potion No. 9 it is not. Preity Zinta captured the best actress award at Chicago’s International Film Festival for her portrayal of Chand, the wife for whom fantasy offers an escape from daily life. Chand’s struggles to pacify and connect with her snake (literally) of a husband lead her to try out a love potion. Not all potions are equally effective, though, and this one has some mixed results. It’s those mixed results that kept us on the edge of our seat.

You can check out Mehta’s latest in San Jose next Saturday. And if you can’t make that showing, perhaps check out The Forgotten Woman, a nonfiction take on Deepa Mehta’s Water, and the directing debut of Mehta’s brother, Dilip Mehta, tonight or Wednesday night at the Kabuki.View image

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