The director said he needed a big star to raise money for his big-budget film. Also, starring Anushka Sharma and Karan Johar, the film is currently in post production.
Based on author Gyan Prakash's book, Mumbai Fables, 'Bombay Velvet' chronicles the story of how the city became a metropolis. The Bombay of 1950s and '60s recreated in Sri Lanka. Anurag now plans to release it in May next year.
"'Bombay Velvet' was expensive from the beginning. It is the most tight budget film of my career. It is a Rs 300 crore movie that we have made into Rs 90 crore. I wanted someone who was not only a good actor but also made it possible for me to raise that kind of money," Anurag said.
"My first choice when I wrote the film in 2006 was Saif Ali Khan. From there it went to Aamir and Hrithik. This film has gone around before landing with Ranbir. We also tried to make it with Ranbir Singh but we could raise only Rs 40 to 50 crore," he added.
Anurag said Johar, who has so far done only brief appearances in films, will surprise with his full-fledged negative role in the story.
"I feel directors make great actors. A director is the only guy who does not come asking for instructions as he knows where the camera is and what he is supposed to do. Karan will surprise everyone as there is no trace of Karan in his performance," he said.
Anurag has a huge following in the young generation of cinema-lovers who look up to him as someone who does not follow norms but the expectations sometimes work against him.
"If my films become successful, my fans think I have sold myself out while mainstream people think they should not put their money into my hands as I would sink it. So, it is like walking on a double-edged sword. There are a lot of stories but people will know the truth only when 'Bombay Velvet' comes out. It is still a very real film despite being expensive. I have not spent money on something where people fly through air. Nothing flies in my film except birds," he said.
Anurag has come a long way from his troubled debut with 'Black Friday'. He has the success of 'Dev D' and 'Gangs of Wasseypur' behind him but that has not made it easy for him to raise money for his projects.
"It is still very difficult because when you make a successful film, they want you to keep repeating it. Some of the most successful filmmakers have repeated their first success in 10 different ways. It is a struggle to avoid falling into that trap," said Anurag.

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