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You are listening to the Expresso Entertainment Update. Here is a feature on “Gujarati movie Chhello Show being India’s entry for 2023 Oscars,” brought to you by The Indian Express.
“Chhello Show translated to Last Film Show, is a 2021 Gujarati coming-of-age drama film directed by Pan Nalin. It stars Bhavin Rabari, Bhavesh Shrimali, Richa Meena, Dipen Raval and Paresh Mehta. The film premiered at the 20th Tribeca Film Festival on 10 June 2021.
This film was selected as the Indian entry for Best International Feature Film at 95th Academy Awards. It is about a nine-year-old Samay from Chalala, a village in Saurashtra in the Gujarat state of India. Samay entered a cinema hall projection booth by bribing Fazal, a cinema projector technician, and watched several films through summer. He became engrossed with cinema for life.
Chhello Show (Last Film Show) has been chosen as India’s submission to the Best International Feature Film category at the 95th Academy Awards.
Talking about Chhello Show being India’s entry for the 2023 Oscars, director Pan Nalin said in a statement, ”I could have never imagined such a day would come and bring light and celebration of light. Chhello Show has been enjoying love from around the world but there was an ache in the hearts of a few how do we make India discover it? Now we can breathe again and believe in cinema that entertains, inspires and enlightens! Thank you FFI, Thank you Jury.“
Director Nalin’s memories of falling in love with cinema as a young child in rural Gujarat served as the basis for the plot. The narrative of a nine-year-old boy, who starts a lifelong deep connection with cinema after he bribes his way into a dilapidated movie theatre and spends a summer viewing films from the projection booth, is told in this movie, which is set in a distant rural community in Saurashtra. The movie explores the relationship between old cinema halls, with their projector rooms and physical film reels, and moviemaking as an art form. This love is not just for the narrative of a movie, but for the process of moviemaking itself. In addition to being an autobiography of the film director’s childhood, Last Film Show is also a biography of a soon-to-be-demolished single-screen cinema hall, its architecture, technology, and inimitable interior spatial quality.
He added further, “Cinema has always been looking for a home. PK Nair, and then later more passionate people, like me, started calling it the Temple of Cinema. So, from home, it becomes a temple, while making a movie and showing a movie architecture and design have always been a vital part of creation for me. I think it is also sort of important to state that I’m a self-taught filmmaker. Everything I have learned, I got from books, but I have very rarely read film books.
The Gujarati movie, set to hit theatres on October 14, 2022, follows young Samay’s pursuit of the 35mm dream.
In October 2021, Chhello Show won the Golden Spike at the 66th Valladolid International Film Festival.
Indiewire’s David Ehrlich called Chhello Show a “coming-of-age story” with “an ethereal take on the magic of movies”. “A semi-autobiographical fable set in the Indian state of Gujarat where Nalin was raised, Last Film Show might sound like a cutesy modern riff on Cinema Paradiso, but — as you already know — this achingly bittersweet requiem for a dream pulls from a much deeper pool of inspirations. Two of them are Sergio Leone and (early) Terrence Malick, and both drift into our mind’s eye from the moment we first see nine-year-old Samay walking along the railroad tracks that stretch past the modest house from which his overbearing father Bapuji (Dipen Raval) sells tea to passengers aboard the rickety trains that stop nearby. Played by Bhavin Rabari, a precocious and compulsively watchable nine-year-old Gujarati boy who shares much in common with his character, Samay doesn’t really know what cinema is at the start of the movie, and yet his life is already full of the stuff,” read the review.
The two films that were being speculated to be India’s entry for the category were The Kashmir Files and RRR, with the latter gaining the most traction in the West. The SS Rajamouli epic, ever since it was released on Netflix, found a wider audience base with the international media, filmmakers and fans taking note of the filmmaker’s wildly imaginative storytelling.
SS Rajamouli has even attended multiple screenings in the US and addressed the audience as part of his efforts to boost the chances of RRR at the Oscars.
Last year, the Tamil drama Koozhangal (Pebbles), directed by filmmaker Vinothraj PS, was selected as India’s official entry in the Best International Feature Film category. The film, however, could not make it to the shortlist.
What did make it to the final list was the Indian documentary feature Writing With Fire, which bagged a nomination at the 94th edition of the Academy Awards. Directed by Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh, Writing With Fire was the first Indian feature documentary to be nominated for the Oscars. It lost the Oscar to Summer Of Soul (Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised).
So far, no Indian film has ever won an Oscar. The last Indian movie that made it to the final five in the best international feature category was Ashutosh Gowariker’s Aamir Khan-starrer Lagaan in 2001. The other two Indian movies to have made it to the top five are Mother India (1958) and Salaam Bombay (1989).
In 2019, a rural India-set film on menstruation titled Period. End of Sentence won the Oscar in the Documentary Short Subject category. It was directed by award-winning filmmaker Rayka Zehtabchi and co-produced by Guneet Monga’s Sikhya Entertainment.
The 95th Academy Awards ceremony will be held at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on March 12, 2023.
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