The Film Federation of India has spoken. India’s entry to 2023 is not a high-budget Telugu film with raging testosterone levels, flying tigers, and an astronomic budget. It’s a small Gujarati-language coming-of-age drama Chello Show (or The Last Film Show).
Directed by Pan Nalin, the movie is semi-autobiographical and is supposedly a love letter to single-screen cinema and 35mm celluloid films in India. The film was premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2021.
A committee, headed by Kannada film director TS Nagabharana, selected Nalin’s film as the official entry to the Best International Film Feature category. Only three Indian movies have gotten nominated in the category, including Mehboob Khan’s Mother India (1957), Mira Nair’s Salaam Bombay! (1988) and Ashutosh Gowariker’s Lagaan (2001).
Other contenders for the entry were the aforementioned Telugu behemoth, SS Rajamouli’s RRR, Vivek Agnihotri’s The Kashmir Files, Sajimon Prabhakar’s Malayankunju and Rahul Sankrityan’s Shyam Singha Roy. According to Nagabharana, Nalin’s Chello Show was a unanimous choice, despite RRR being a massive hit with Western media and receiving endorsements from Hollywood bigwigs like Edgar Wright, C Robert Cargill, and Larry Karasewski.
What’s Chello Show about?
The story follows nine-year-old Samay from Chalala, a village in Saurashtra in Gujarat, and how his life changed after entering a cinema hall projection booth where he watched several films throughout the summer. The official synopsis says that the movie “is set at the cusp of the digital revolution and follows a nine-year-old boy ensnared by the magic and science of light and shadow that lies behind celluloid film projection”.
The film has been largely inspired by Nalin’s own childhood experiences of growing up in rural Gujarat.
Who is in the movie?
The movie stars Bhavin Rabari, Bhavesh Shrimali, Richa Meena, Dipen Raval and Paresh Mehta in lead roles. The cast comprises mostly of child actors, including six village boys from local communities.
When can we see Chello Show in India?
You will be able to see the movie that has managed to move film critics and the members of the Film Federation of India very soon. The film premieres in theaters on October 14, 2022.