Last Film Show: For the love of cinema
As much as he appreciates how tech has changed cinema, award winning director Pan Nalin rues it has also brought a flood of ‘manufactured emotions’
Filmmaker Pan Nalin’s Last Film Show, or the Chhello Show, recently became the first Gujarati film to be dubbed entirely in Spanish, and to find an overseas release post-Covid. Giddy with joy, Nalin is thrilled to see Indian films reaching global audiences, who are loving our cinema, even with subtitles and dubs.
For the director, the film was special because he “was desperate to make a film where we celebrate lightness and innocence, where we go back to a natural, organic and timeless way of living.” The director also felt a sense of urgency while making this film because he feels cinema has been reduced to content and commodity now. “Content is the king, and cinema is now reduced to its sidekick. So before it is too late, I had to make the Last Film Show,” says he.
As much as he appreciates how technology has evolved cinema and how writers and directors are getting more opportunities in the industry, he can’t help but feel sad at what he terms a flood of “manufactured emotions”.
Nalin’s Last Film Show revolves around the life of Samay, who tries to translate his love for cinema into reality by opening a movie theatre. The film is also autobiographical in parts as it traces parts of his childhood through the lead character Samay. Just like Samay, Nalin too never had been to the movies till he was eight due to his family’s struggles. Just like Samay, Nalin had nothing to lose but a whole world to discover. And just like Samay, Nalin’s world too changed when he saw a film at the age of nine, “enlightening” him.
This “enlightenment” is what brought the filmmaker closer to the Chhello Show, says he. It was his love for movies, the love for his roots in Kathiawad, and the many “notorious encounters dealing with movies and its magic”. What is interesting about the film is that Nalin doesn’t only focus on what’s happening on-screen, which has often been romanticised, but also shows how Samay falls in love with every aspect of cinema, be it the projector, the camera, or the screen itself.
But Nalin does admit that the film did not see the light of the day without a few roadblocks, the foremost of them being financing. Says Nalin, “Unlike many other countries in the world, we don’t have a system of public support for filmmakers, like the CNC in France, British Film Institute or the American Film Institute.”
Instead, government institutions like the Railways, which allow the bigger Bollywood names to use the trains and stations for free, break the backs of independent filmmakers for each penny, he rues.
But Nalin still believes that the power of storytelling, the itch to be the greatest storyteller, and being honest to your art, is all that you need to survive in the madness of the cinema and entertainment world.
Currently, the award-winning director is working on a few feature films and shows for both Hollywood and Bollywood, which, for a change, will have bigger names, bigger stars, and be more mainstream.
(The Last Film Show had a gala premiere at the 46th Cleveland International Film Festival, a screening at the Fribourg International Film Festival in Switzerland, and will be screened at the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles as a “special gala presentation”, which is scheduled to take place from April 28 to May 1. The film has also been picked by Samuel Goldwyn Films in the US and Shochiku Films in Japan for distribution.)
(This was first published in National Herald on Sunday)