Bollywood star Preity Zinta is ecstatic after winning the best actress award at the 44th Chicago International Film Festival for playing a battered Punjabi wife in Deepa Mehta's "Heaven On Earth". She is thankful to Anupam Kher for helping her get the right Punjabi diction for her role.
The award was announced Saturday and will be given Oct 29. She has bagged the Silver Hugo Award for Best Actress "for her strong yet subtle performance as a woman struggling to keep her dreams despite brutal realities" in the Feature Film Competition section.
"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. I am so happy and excited," Preity Zinta told IANS.
"I'm walking on sunshine. I can't believe where I am," added Preity who is also getting rave reviews for her performance in the just released "Heroes".
Preity is immensely thankful to Anupam Kher for her convincing performance in both the films.
"I attended his acting school (Actor Prepares) 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 pleases 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."
Preity says she has no marriage plans right 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, this one is for you, guys."
Added 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'."