For scribe-turned-director Avinash Das, it was a long-nurtured dream to become a filmmaker and he says he has entered the industry with an aim to tell heartland stories rather than chase glamour.
Avinash is making his directorial debut with 'Anaarkali of Aarah', which is about a singer, who is known for her double-meaning, erotic numbers. She courts controversy after standing up to her assaulter.
The culture of female singers performing in front of a rowdy crowd is a common sight in Bihar, where Avinash grew up and he says he wants to continue telling stories like these in future as well.
"I have come to the industry to tell stories, not because of the glamour. If I have stories, I will tell them," said Avinash.
"Tigmanshu Dhulia, Anurag Kashyap, Imtiaz Ali have gone to Mumbai from small cities. They took their stories with them and are still telling their stories. So, if people like them get a space to tell their stories then such stories will stay alive. Outsiders will tell their story and not stories of metro cities," he said.
The idea of 'Anaarkali Of Aarah' came to Avinash years ago when he watched a video of an erotic song as well as an incident which happened in Chhapra, Bihar.
"In 2011, I heard about an incident in which someone misbehaved with a singer in Chhapra. The singer took a stand against that man which forced him to resign. I weaved these two threads together into my story," he added.
The trailer of the film has garnered positive response especially for Swara's raw performance and Avinash says the actress has put in a lot of effort to get into the skin of the character besides contributing in fine-tuning the script.
"Swara was very involved in the film and she has put in her all. I was surprised that an actress can be so connected with a film. She would work beyond the hours.”
"She would be on the sets despite it not being her work day. She used to do crowd control, choreograph the dance troupe. Swara also helped me a lot at the scripting level. She shared her ideas," he added.
Avinash says he cannot imagine any other actress than Swara as his leading lady in 'Anaarkali of Aarah' because he feels her sensibilities in life have some resemblance to the character.
"Her character reflects what she is in real life. She takes stands on issues. So, in a way, they both are the same. I can say that if Swara was not part of the film, I would not have made it," said the director.