His Malayalam film Adaminte Makan Abu may have lost the race for the Oscars but debutant director Salim Ahmed is happy that the story of a poor perfume seller went so far despite his limited means.
"I am happy. When I made the film I never thought it would win so many National Awards and will even go to the Oscar jury members," he said from Thiruvananthapuram.
Blaming it on the tough competition in the Best Foreign Film category at the Academy Awards, he said he tried his best to promote the film within his limited resources.
"I didn't have a big marketing budget needed to promote the film for the Oscars. But whatever was possible for me to do, I did. I gave my best," he said.
The film, a heartwarming story of a poor perfume seller's struggle to go to Haj, had won four National Awards, including the Best Film, last year. But it failed to make it to the top nine shortlists for the Best Foreign Film category at the Oscars yesterday.
The 39-year-old lamented that besides his close friends nobody came forward to fund the high promotional cost needed to impress upon the Oscar jury. He had written letters to the state government as well as the central government seeking financial assistance. But nothing materialised.
"I managed to gather Rs 50 lakh from various sources, including my personal savings, and had five private screenings for the jury in Los Angeles," said Ahmed, who was inspired to make the film on the problems faced by Haj pilgrims while working as a travel agent.
He said that the feedback from critics and jury members was very encouraging. Besides getting tips from Aamir Khan on how to sell his film in the foreign market, he had roped in Oscar-winning sound engineer Resul Pookutty for re-designing the film's sound and re-mixing it.
Ahmed is now working on two scripts -- one is a historical film while the other is a simple human interest story.