The Film Federation of India, on Tuesday, announced India's official entry to the Oscars 2023. The Gujarati film, ‘Chhello Show’, which is titled ‘Last Film Show’ in English, has been picked as India's official entry to the 95th Academy Awards. The film, helmed by Pan Nalin, has been selected in the Best International Feature Film category.
FFI Secretary General Suparn Sen announced the name of the film after much deliberations by the jury, which is headed by seasoned Kannada director T.S. Nagabharana. Starring Bhavin Rabari, Vikas Bata, Richa Meena, Bhavesh Shrimali, Dipen Raval, and Rahul Koli, the film is set for a theatrical release on October 14.
OMG! What a night this going to be! Gratitude to Film Federation of India and thank you FFI jury members. Thank you for believing in Chhello Show. Now I can breathe again and believe in cinema that entertains, inspires and enlightens! @LastFilmShow1#ChhelloShow#Oscars— Nalin Pan (@PanNalin) September 20, 2022
For those caught unaware, ‘Chhello Show’ is a coming-of-age story of a young boy living in a village in Saurashtra. It is a semi-autobiographical film and Pan Nalin recalls the childhood innocence, which is surrounded by a time when Indian cinema was undergoing a massive transition from celluloid to digital. During that time, with hundreds of single-screen cinemas disappearing, how the young boy celebrates the magic of the movies is what forms the crux of the story.
‘Chhello Show’ had a long road before it could make the cut for Oscars 2023. The film had its world premiere as the opening film at the Robert De Niro’s Tribeca Film Festival in 2021, and travelled to several other international film festivals, taking multiple awards. It also was featured in the Golden Spike at the 66th Valladolid Film Festival in Spain, and enjoyed commercial success too.
Pan Nalin certainly was too elated at his film getting picked for the Oscars 2023. ”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 my heart. How do I make India discover it? Now I can breathe again and believe in cinema that entertains, inspires, and enlightens!” he said, as reported by Variety.
The film, which is produced by Siddharth Roy Kapur, Pan Nalin, Dheer Momaya and Mark Duale, is also backed by partners Samuel Goldwyn Films and Orange Studio. While Samuel Goldwyn Films acquired all US rights to the film, it is represented in international markets by Orange Studio.
Producer Siddharth Roy Kapur reportedly said, “There could not be a more apt time for a film like Chhello Show, that celebrates the magic and wonder of cinema and the theatrical experience. 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.”
Coming back to Nalin, his earlier films include ‘Samsara’ (2001), ‘Valley of Flowers’ (2006), ‘Angry Indian Goddesses’ (2015) and ‘Ayurveda: Art of Being’ (2001).
At the Oscars 2023 race, he witnessed competition from S.S. Rajamouli’s ‘RRR’, Vivek Agnihotri’s ‘The Kashmir Files’, Sajimon Prabhakar’s ‘Malayankunju’, and Rahul Sankrityan’s ‘Shyam Singha Roy’.
As for Gujarati films, ‘Chhello Show’ is the second Gujarati film after ‘The Good Road’ in 2013 to have made the cut for the prestigious awards. Last year, Tamil film ‘Koozhangal’ (Pebbles), was India’s official entry at the Oscars.
In the case of Indian films at the Oscars 2023, earlier three films have been nominated for best international feature — ‘Mother India’ (1957), ‘Salaam Bombay!’ (1988) and ‘Lagaan’ (2001). While none have won an award, ‘Lagaan’ made it to the final five.