New Delhi, Dec 13: With Madhuri Dixit playing the new femme fatale, director Abhishek Chaubey is back to exploring love and deceit in 'Dedh Ishqiya', a sequel to his 2010 hit 'Ishqiya', which he says is much more complex than the original.
"The one thing that attracted me to the story is that we were creating an alternate world in 'Dedh Ishqiya'. Unlike the original, which was rooted in reality, this film is a flight of fancy. We have created this world through the character of begum Para (Madhuri) who is extremely desirable, beautiful, cultured and sophisticated, but yet there is a mystery to her.
"The setting is inspired by the culture of Awadh. It was decadent but had lot of music, poetry and colour. Something beautiful died with its decline. We have tried to merge that culture with very modern sensibilities," the director told PTI.
Chaubey made an impressive debut with the 2010 'Ishqiya', about a lovelorn but vengeful woman, played deftly by Vidya Balan, who uses two runaway thieves to settle scores.
Given the success of the first film, Chaubey embarked on the sequel with some trepidation, but his producer and collaborator Vishal Bhardwaj, keen to bring the story back, finally convinced him.
"Vishal wanted me to make a sequel but I did not have a story. He got an author onboard, who came with the basic idea that became 'Dedh Ishqiya'. I was still not sure, but somewhere in the process, I started loving what I was doing. Now, I can say that this film came to be not because I wanted to make a sequel but because it has something to say."
'Dedh Ishqiya' is slated to hit the screens on January 10, 2014.
The director producer duo decided to retain the thieves Khalujaan and Babban from the original film, but brought new female faces in Madhuri and Huma Qureshi.
Chaubey says Madhuri was their first choice to play Begum Para and she agreed even when it was not fully developed on paper, while both Naseer and Arshad were more than happy to reprise their roles.
"She was top on our list even when we had not written a word about the story. Once we had a basic outline, we reached out to her and she agreed. It was a big impetus to us because when a star of her calibre and talent agrees, it creates some enthusiasm," said Chaubey, who describes Madhuri as "no fuss" actor.
Chaubey said the nervousness that he may have felt while directing her vanished after first few days.
"Working with her was a delight. She is no fuss kind of actor, a director's actor. She likes to come on set and let her director fill her up with the information and with what he is expecting from the scene at that moment. She is a born performer," Chaubey said.
"Naseerji and Arshad slipped into their roles easily. It seemed like they had never left it. It was more comfortable working them this time around as we had developed a trust."
The film will see Arshad romancing Qureshi in the film and Shah romancing Madhuri.
"I had done a love triangle already so we decided to approach the relationships through a different perspective. Arshad and Huma's relationship is younger, more lusty and provides a contrast to the main love story that is between Naseerji and Madhuriji's characters, which is more old world."
Asked whether he has given more importance to the two male characters this time, Chaubey said the film is still about women, but told through the eyes of these two characters.
"The film is about male gaze. It is the story about women but from the point of view of these two males. It was the case even in the first movie, though Vidya had a giant role. In the sequel too, we walk into the world that is of Madhuri and Huma through these two people," he said.
Chaubey is planning to take a break, but hopes to being shooting his third film by the end of 2014....