Preity Zinta, the chirpy Indian actress has done us all proud. She has won The Best Actress Award at the Chicago Film Festival. Preity won this award for her excellent performance in the role of a battered Punjabi wife in Deepa Mehta’s cross cultural film, Heaven On Earth.

Now, we all know that Deepa is a great film maker and any awards she may win won’t surprise us. But Deepa’s choosing a mainstream Bollywood actress like Preity was a little surprising! The award was announced on Saturday and will be given away on Oct 29. Preity 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.

In spite of having worked in a big number of Bollywood films, Preity has not been given her due in this industry. Critics have been writing off Preity for quite some time now. She has been called “too bubbly” by polite ones and the not-so-polite ones have written things like: “those dimples needed to shut down now”!!!

It is worth a mention here that Preity is the second Indian actress to win this “huge” international award. Is it surprising then, that she is on top of the world? In Preity’s own words, “I am so happy and excited. I’m going to have a blissfully debauched celebration this evening. It was my director Deepa Mehta who informed me on Saturday afternoon that I had won. Neither Deepa nor I could go to Chicago, I’m thrilled that I’ve done it without any lobbying.”

As we all know, Preity has played two “desi” Punjabi characters recently. She has won this international award for one and is also being appreciated for her portrayal of a Punjabi woman in Samir Karnik’s recently released Heroes. Preity is quick to give credit where it is due. So she is happily telling everyone that she attended Anupam Kher’s acting school to get the Punjabi accent right. Looks like the classes have done wonders for you, gal!

A lot of credit for this achievement should also go to the film maker Deepa Mehta. Interestingly, the first (and the only other) Indian actress to have won this award is Shabana Azmi. No points for guessing the name of the film! Yes, once again, Deepa Mehta’s Fire. This proves that a lot depends on the skills of the director as well. But does this mean that only a director as fine as Deepa can get such award winning performances out of our actors?

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