Avinash Das, who made his Bollywood directorial debut this year with Swara Bhasker-starrer "Anaarkali of Aarah", says he and the film's producers had to struggle to get it distributed in the country as it was devoid of a heavy-duty star cast.
"Anaarkali of Aarah" is based on a village dancer, who is harassed by a local politician and is ridiculed by the police, but ends up plotting revenge to clear her name.
Although the film had critically acclaimed actors like Swara, Sanjay Mishra and Pankaj Tripathi, distributors required a "big star" to be a part of Das's project, a safety harness that many filmmakers go with to make their content driven film work in India.
"Yes, I faced the problem where distributors avoid stories for different reasons. We made the movie, our print was ready in October, then we showed our film to almost all production houses and distributors. All wanted a star's face, but in my film, the star was the story," Das, whose film released in March, told IANS on the sidelines of the Habitat Film Festival here.
Das quipped that "the first time you have to break down the walls and the second time the doors open for you".
"That understanding was lacking for most. They did not believe in it (story being the star) as strongly as I did, of course. Finally, our producers (Priya Kapur and Sandip Kapur) themselves distributed the film from their own pocket, in collaboration with PVR Cinemas. So, problems do arise. When it released, it got good reviews and appreciation. So now, there are talks to release the film on other platforms," he added.
Why didn't he go for big names like most filmmakers do to sell stories and mint money?
"I am not that kind of a filmmaker. I am here to sell stories and whether people watch them or not...it is their call. I just want to be able to put my story out there and give it my 100 per cent with full honesty...that would be my achievement," said the former journalist, who also worked on shows and documentaries like "Satyamev Jayate" and "The Battle of Banaras".
However, Das has not ruled out the possibility of working with a superstar in the future.
"In the whole thought process of having a star and the concept... it may happen that tomorrow, I work with a particular actor but I am not comfortable working with one at the moment. My thinking process will definitely be affected or influenced if I do.
"Stars come with a burden of their own, with a baggage. Since the film sells on their name, they want to do the film on their own terms and ways. For a while, I want to make films according to my own style. I will have to and I am ready to struggle a bit without a star in my film," he added.
With "Anaarkali of Aarah" being a different subject altogether, Das says it was a "dirty" YouTube video which struck a chord with him.
"Ideas can come to you anytime in life. The idea to make 'Anaarkali...' came to me in 2006-2007. That time YouTube was new, people were still exploring the space... Once I heard a very disgusting and rustic song on the platform. It was a dirty video, but the singer's facial expression while singing, showed no emotion even though she was singing an erotic number.
"From there it struck me... what must be really going on in the life and mind of such a person, singer, who is singing such an erotic number without emotions," Das said.
"That pain could be seen, she wasn't enjoying the song which was meant to be a source of enjoyment for others. To find out what the reason is and what is happening, a story started brewing in my mind. Then the film happened," he added.