'Last Film Show' about reconnecting to my roots: director Pan Nalin

Komal Panchamatia
·4-min read

Mumbai, Apr 27 (PTI) Director Pan Nalin says his Gujarati film 'Chhello Show' (Last Film Show), which will open the Tribeca Film Festival's Spotlight section in June, is about the magic of cinema and hope told through the eyes of a young village boy.

The movie also gave the director, best known for his films “Samsara”, “Valley of Flowers”, “Angry Indian Goddesses”, a chance to reconnect to his roots in Gujarat.

'I wanted to tell a story about kids who grow up in the countryside and how they start innovating to create their own kind of cinema, storytelling. Nothing stops these kids.

'When you have nothing, nothing should stop you. It is a story of inspiration, hope, valuing family, friends, cinema, storytellers, innocence and innovation. It has reconnected me with my roots,' the director told PTI in a telephonic interview from Paris.

The film revolves around a nine-year-old boy in a remote village in India, who begins a lifelong love affair with cinema when he bribes his way into a rundown movie palace and spends a summer watching movies from the projection booth. Set in a remote rural village of Saurashtra, stars six young boys from indigenous tribe communities of Gujarat.

Nalin, born in a small village in Amreli district, Gujarat, said it's encouraging to see 'Chhello Show' become the first Gujarati film to open the Spotlight section at Tribeca.

'The festival team learned about our film and thought the theme resonated with their idea of the celebration of cinema. They (organisers) felt our film is an invitation to return to the cinema.

'When we were making the film, we didn’t realize that the world would go this way. The film celebrates the big-screen experience of going to cinema halls and watching a film with family and friends, which is irreplaceable,' he added.

The director, whose real name Nalin Kumar Pandya, said he always wanted to make a film around innocence and hope and he got the chance when two of his projects -- a Bollywood movie and a Hollywood film -- took time to get off the ground.

The director said during the pandemic everyone started innovating and finding ways to stay happy with whatever they had. Similarly, his is talks about the spirit of innovation.

The disappearance of India's single-screen culture and 35mm celluloid film largely forms the backdrop of 'Last Film Show'.

“…To find a Bollywood movie print and a technician who can run a projector was tough. We learned it is available in Karnataka, Nasik and one or two other places. One film print is of 50-60 kg while today it is of 200 gm,” he said.

Another obstruction was to shoot with old railway trains and platforms.

Nalin said to shoot the film in real locations from villages to railways to schools made him feel nostalgic about his childhood.

“Everything seemed the same to me. Even though people have moved forward in life, the tradition and the culture is still preserved.” Nalin said his love for films began after he attended the university in Vadodara to study fine arts and later at the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, where he was exposed to world cinema.

“I became interested in filmmaking and started writing films while I was in Ahmedabad. Then I came to Mumbai in 1992 and got work as a production runner, did a lot of ad films,” he said.

“Since I didn’t know anyone in Bollywood it was difficult to penetrate, also because most of my stories were different from the usual Bollywood movies. I was happy making short films, travelled, pitched films and eventually, things fell in place,” he added.

Currently, Nalin is giving the finishing touches to the film, which will be ready by the first week of May.

As the film 'Last Show' gears up for the world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, the director is equally looking forward to releasing it back home in India.

He says even if theatres don’t open he is toying with the idea of showing it on a projector in remote villages in Gujarat, where he shot the film. PTI KKP BK BK