- The semi-autobiographical drama pays homage to the cinema of the past and is set against the backdrop of Indian films witnessing a massive transition from celluloid to digital.
Pan Nalin’s Gujarati film “Last Film Show” (“Chhello Show”) has been selected as India’s official entry for the Oscars in the Best International Feature category. The semi-autobiographical drama pays homage to the cinema of the past and is set against the backdrop of Indian films witnessing a massive transition from celluloid to digital.
The film stars Bhavin Rabari, Vikas Bata, Richa Meena, Bhavesh Shrimali, Dipen Raval and Rahul Koli, and is produced by Siddharth Roy Kapur, Nalin, Dheer Momaya and Mark Duale.
“I could have never imagined such a day would come and bring light and celebration of light,” Nalin said to Deadline. “‘Chhello Show’ has been enjoying love from around the world but there was an ache in my heart that how do I make India discover it? Now I can breathe again and believe in cinema that entertains, inspires and enlightens.”
The film revolves around nine-year-old Samay (Rabari), who with his pals, “hitches a ride on the train that passes their remote village and find their way to a rundown movie theater that offers all the entertainment their little heart’s desire,” according to a synopsis provided by Deadline.
When his friends get escorted out after sneaking in without paying, Samay bribes the hungry projectionist with the home-cooked lunch his mother packed for him. “And so begins a daily routine: his lunch in exchange for access to the projection booth, where wide-eyed Samay watches the world unfold before him on the big screen,” the synopsis says. “But when the theater transitions from 35mm to digital, this safe haven is disrupted, and Samay enlists his buddies to construct their own DIY projection apparatus.”
“Last Film Show” had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival last year. It has won the Golden Spike at the Valladolid Film Festival in Spain as well as the Audience Award in the World Cinema strand of the Mill Valley Film Festival. It will be released in Gujarat and on select screens across India on Oct.14.
Roy Kapur told Deadline that the team is “thrilled and honored” with the selection. “There could not be a more apt time for a film like this one, that celebrates the magic and wonder of cinema and the theatrical experience,” he said. “When cinema going around the world has been disrupted by a pandemic, it reminds audiences anew of the first time they fell in love with the experience of watching a movie in a darkened cinema hall.”
Before the Sept. 20 announcement of the Oscars shortlist, Variety magazine had predicted two Oscar nominations for S.S. Rajamouli’s “RRR,” including Best International Film. The western audience has fallen in love with the film, Variety wrote, adding that it “received a lot of love after it was made available for streaming for the global audience on Netflix.”
Set in 1920s India, RRR tells the tale of two rebels, played by Ram Charan and Jr NTR, who take on the might of the British empire. The film also became Rajamouli’s second consecutive film to earn more than Rs. 1,000 crore worldwide after “Baahubali: The Conclusion.”
Another nomination for the film, according to the publication, was for its song “Dosti” in the Best Original Song category. Composed by M. M. Keeravani, the song celebrating the budding friendship between two lead characters was written by lyricist Hemachandra.
The last Indian film to get nominated in the Best Foreign Language Film was Aamir Khan’s “Lagaan” in 2002, after Mother India (1957), and Salaam Bombay! (1988).