'I could have never imagined such a day would come and bring light and celebration of light.'
Not Rajamouli's RRR, but the Gujarati film Last Film Show (Chhello Show) is India's official entry to the Best International Feature Film category at the 95th Academy Awards.
Pan Nalin is best known for directing award-winning and visually striking films such as Samsara, Valley of Flowers, Angry Indian Goddesses and Ayurveda: Art of Being.
Chhello Show/Last Film Show is a part-autobiographical drama that captures the charm of Gujarat while paying homage to the cinema of the past.
It is a reminder of childhood innocence and the universal magic of the movies.
The film stars Bhavin Rabari, Vikas Bata, Richa Meena, Bhavesh Shrimali, Dipen Raval and Rahul Koli.
The story is set against the backdrop of cinemas in India witnessing a massive transition from celluloid to digital, where hundreds of single-screen cinemas stand dilapidated or have disappeared altogether.
Chhello Show/Last Film Show had its world premiere as the opening film at Robert De Niro's Tribeca Film Festival and has won multiple awards across various international film festivals, including the Golden Spike at the Valladolid Film Festival in Spain, where it also enjoyed commercial success during its theatrical run.
"I could have never imagined such a day would come and bring light and celebration of light," says Pan Nalin.
"Chhello Show has been enjoying love from around the world, but there was an ache in my heart that how do I make India discover it?"
"Now I can breathe again and believe in cinema that entertains, inspires and enlightens! Thank you FFI, Thank you Jury."
"We are thrilled and honoured that our film has been selected to represent India at the Academy Awards," says Producer Siddharth Roy Kapur.
"There could not be a more apt time for a film like this one, that celebrates the magic and wonder of cinema and the theatrical experience," says Siddharth.
"When cinema-going around the world has been disrupted by a pandemic, it reminds audiences a new of the first time they fell in love with the experience of watching a movie in a darkened cinema hall.
"It is a matter of great pride for us to represent our country with this film, and with the backing of our partners Samuel Goldwyn Films and Orange Studio, we will make sure that we give it our best shot at the Academy Awards!"
Feature Presentation: Ashish Narsale/Rediff.com