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"I am so happy and excited. I'm going to get blissfully debauched this evening," said Preity Zinta as she jumped up and down on her seat.
And with reason. She has just heard that she has won the best actress award at the Chicago International Film Festival for her performance as the battered Punjabi wife grappling with domestic violence in Deepa Mehta's Heaven On Earth.
"It was my director Deepa Mehta who informed me on Saturday afternoon that I had won. I couldn't go to Chicago, and neither could Deepa. Without any lobbying I've done it." She squealed, as she informed her mom and buddy Karan Johar of the posh international triumph just when back home, the rave reviews are coming in for her performance in her latest release Heroes.
And now the huge honour at the Chicago Film Festival has Preity in a daze. "I'm walking on sunshine. I can't believe where I am." Preity is immensely thankful to Anupam Kher. "I attended his acting school to get my Punjabi right for both the roles. He taught me how to pronounce the words properly. He has been a blessing."
What really pleased Preity is that this international award will help sell Heaven On Earth to a global audience. "It is a film in Punjabi and I felt the language would limit the appeal. But trust Deepa to break the cultural barriers."
As Preity's cup of joy runs over you gently suggest marriage. "Oh no not now. I don't feel the time is right. I'd want to get married only when I want to have children. Right now let me enjoy this moment. Everyone who thought those dimples needed to shut down now (yup, that's what one critic wrote)...this one is for you, guys."
Added Deepa Mehta, "It's amazing, isn't it? I'm so happy for Preity. She's luminous in Heaven On Earth...just like Shabana Azmi in Fire. Coincidentally, Shabana was the other actress to win the Best Actress Award at Chicago. I don't think any other Indian actress has won this award. I'm happy Preity is getting rave reviews for Heroes. I've seen bits of her performance in Heroes. And in fact it was that performance which reassured me that I had made the right choice for Heaven On Earth."