Laughs Navdeep, "People keep asking me if I am going full on commercial with Basra after Manorama - Six Feet Under (Abhay Deol, Gul Panag, Raima Sen). Well, my answer to them is that yes, it's a commercial film but with an intelligent way of story telling. Audience won't be taken for granted in this espionage thriller."
Talking about the relevance of the film's title, Navdeep reveals, "'Basra is the name of a port in Iraq and exists for centuries. The city forms a major part of the film's script." Incidentally, Basra is Iraq's second largest city after Baghdad and is also a historic location of Sumer, the home of 'Sindbad - The Sailor'."
So what are Akshaye and Maddy doing in the film? "While Maddy plays a Mumbai cop, Akshaye is an investigating officer. Shahana plays the role of a journalist. This is all I can reveal at this moment", says Navdeep who would be returning to direction close to three years after he last called the shots for Manorama - Six Feet Under.
There is one more leading lady yet to be finalised and the hunt is currently on for her. Meanwhile Navdeep has his shooting plans more or less chalked out for Basra which is being produced by Nikhil Advani and Mukesh Talreja. "We should begin shooting early August. The film requires a lot of action and both Akshaye and Maddy would be shown kicking their action boots", he says.
So how did he go about bringing together an unusual cast together for his film? Says Navdeep, "Akshaye was a very clear choice for the film since he just fitted the part. On the other hand I had been following Maddy's work over a period of time and especially after I saw him in Aayutha Ezhuthu, the Tamil version of Yuva, where he played the role enacted by Abhishek Bachchan, I knew I had to work with him."
How about Shahana? Is she going to go through an image change and would be seen in a full on glamour avatar? Laughs Navdeep, "Nothing like that actually. As a journalist, she won't quite get that kind of opportunity here. As for her acting skills, she is extremely gifted and movies like Rock On, Firaaq and even lesser known affairs like Ru Ba Ru and Yun Hota To Kya Hota have been good examples to demonstrate that. Moreover, she is an easy actor to work with, something that is so imperative during film making."
Exactly the sentiment that is shared by Madhavan as well. "Navdeep is my kind of director because for him what holds utmost importance is a concrete storyline. When he narrated Basra to me, I was simply blown over and had no hesitation signing it", he says.
For producers Mukesh Talreja and Nikhil Advani, Basra would be their fourth film as they would be collaborating once again after Salaam-E-Ishq, Chandni Chowk To China and Jaane Kahan Se Aayi Hai (which is currently under production).