Lust in the air

Ahead of the premiere of Lust Stories 2, producer Ashi Dua, speaks of the allure of anthology series, her transformative journey in the industry and more
A YouTube screengrab from the teaser of 'Lust Stories 2' starring Neena Gupta, Kajol, and Tamannaah.
A YouTube screengrab from the teaser of 'Lust Stories 2' starring Neena Gupta, Kajol, and Tamannaah.

Delhi, a city of dreams and aspirations, has been a source of inspiration for many. For film producer and entrepreneur Ashi Dua, who is awaiting the release of Lust Stories 2 on Netflix on June 29, her time in Delhi marked a turning point in her life. It wasn’t until she moved to the city to pursue her undergraduate degree in history at Delhi University, that she truly experienced city life. With a deep-rooted love for storytelling, Dua has become a trailblazer, producing thought-provoking films and pushing the boundaries of traditional narratives.

Dua’s foray into anthology films began with Bombay Talkies, whose release coincided with and celebrated Indian cinema turning 100. Inspired by international works and their exploration of diverse storytelling formats, Dua saw an opportunity to bring anthologies to the Indian audience. “There is always something for everyone. It opens up the possibility of telling one story, theme and subject, from different perspectives,” she explains. Her upcoming release, Lust Stories 2, promises a fresh lineup of exciting stories, each offering a unique perspective on the theme of desire. “We have new voices telling different stories, but the essence of lust that connected with the audience in the first one remains,” she shares. 

A still from the film 
A still from the film 

Born in Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, Dua spent her formative years in the picturesque town of Nainital. Thus, moving from a sheltered life in the hills to the bustling metropolis was a transformative experience for her. “Delhi was my first experience of what city life is, how people are, new friendships, college life, and freedom,” she shares. “I made some really good friends, learned a lot, and those three years were truly remarkable.” Initially torn between a career in archaeology and journalism, Dua embarked on an internship at a news organisation, working alongside well-known journalists. But, destiny had different plans for her, as she found herself irresistibly drawn to the vibrant city of Mumbai, where she decided to explore the world of films. Eventually she went on to produce the critically-acclaimed film Dev D, working alongside filmmaker Anurag Kashyap. 

As a woman producer, Dua acknowledges the challenges that come with the territory but asserts that she has not faced significant gender bias. However, she emphasises the importance of perseverance and embracing challenges head-on. “You just have to prove your worth through your work,” she advises aspiring women filmmakers and producers. Throughout her career, Dua has had numerous memorable moments, including walking the red carpet at Cannes and the nomination for Lust Stories at the Emmy Awards. However, it is the wholesome experience of working on the film Kaalakaandi that remains close to her heart. Looking ahead, she is excited about her upcoming projects, including two feature films and web series that are set to captivate audiences with their unique storytelling. “One is about boarding school kids and the other story is about two sisters running a rehab,” Dua adds. 

Beyond her work in the film industry, Dua’s passions for music and travel influence her creative process. Dua is also the co-founder of The Dhoom Dhaam Company, a platform that brings luxury designers together. This venture, driven by her friendship with Tanya Ghavri, provides a space for people to discover and experience a wide range of fashion choices, catering to the festive season. 

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The New Indian Express