Director Navdeep Singh, best known for his impressive debut 'Manorama Six Feet Under', is back with Anushka Sharma-starrer 'NH10' which, he says, is a dark and gripping tale about the struggle between different Indias.
Anushka Sharma in 'NH10' Pic/Santa Banta
"It is very dark but at the same time a very gripping and compelling watch. There are many Indias in this country.
There are different realities to a city and they all co-exist but they don't know each other. When they accidentally meet, sometimes in bad circumstances, there is friction, a struggle.
'NH10' talks about this friction," Navdeep told PTI.
'Manorama Six Feet Under', a critically acclaimed murder mystery starring Abhay Deol and Gul Panag, somehow escaped viewers' radar when it first released seven years ago but has since acquired a cult status.
Ask him about his delayed follow up, Navdeep admits that things did not pan out well following his debut.
"There were many, many false starts. I was to do 'Basra' but that did not take off and then I was doing another film called 'Rock the Shaadi'. We shot some of it but then it got stalled.
"It has been seven years but every person has a journey.
It has also to do with the kind of films you want to make. If you want to make a big commercial film or have made something big then things become easier. You get only this much petrol on critical acclaim," he says.
Produced by Eros International, Phantom Films and Clean Slate Films, 'NH10', also starring Neil Bhoopalam and Darshan Kumar besides Anushka, is scheduled to release on March 6.
The story revolves around a young upper middle class couple Meera and Arjun, driving to a well-earned weekend getaway. But their road trip goes awry when they decide to step into a fight between some villagers.
Navdeep says Anushka, who is making her production debut with the film, was always the first choice but the script did travel to other actresses, including Freida Pinto, before it finally came back to 'PK' star.
"I don't know why I thought of Anushka. She seemed the right physical type. I wanted someone who could play vulnerable and also become strong. I needed both these qualities and she seemed the right fit," he says.
Navdeep says Anushka liked the script in one reading. "She read the script in one sitting and got very excited about it. Her brother also liked the story. It was a very spur of the moment decision. She said she was ready to produce it, if it helped. She has been very supportive."
Bhoopalam, who plays Anushka's partner in the movie, jumped to Navdeep's attention with his role of a young politician in TV show '24'.
The director feels the industry still does not take the audiences seriously.
"We still underestimate our audience. The modern Indian audience is very smart and discerning and they do know what they are watching and why they are watching. They are very receptive to films," he said.
Navdeep, however, is hopeful that with younger stars opting for interesting stories things would slowly change for better.
"The films with stars get more visibility and thankfully younger stars are turning to good stories be it Anushka in 'NH10', Deepika Padukone and Arjun Kapoor in 'Finding Fanny' or Shahid Kapoor in 'Haider'. They too want to do films that they like to watch," he says.
Navdeep has "a cupboard full of stories" and wants to make films that he would like to watch.
"In a weird sort of way, I want to make films that I would like to watch and hopefully they will be set in real locations and in small towns because I travelled to these cities a lot as an army kid," the director says.