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Exclusive! 'Last Film Show was picked purely on merit, NO pressure on the committee to choose high profile films," says FFI committee head T.S. Nagabharana

Acclaimed director and actor T.S. Nagabharana, who served as the head of the committee of selection for the Oscars, shares his views on Pan Nalin's Last Film Show and why it had to be the official Indian entry.

Exclusive! 'Last Film Show was picked purely on merit, NO pressure on the committee to choose high profile films," says FFI committee head T.S. Nagabharana
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  • Swaroop Kodur

Last Updated: 07.31 PM, Sep 20, 2022

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The official Indian entry to the Oscars has been a subject of tremendous scrutiny with not one multiple high-profile projects part of the race. However, beating all expectations, the committee in charge has selected Pan Nalin's coming-of-age Gujarati drama Chhello Show or Last Film Show as India's official entry to the upcoming Academy Awards (2023), leaving many surprised and also endeared. 

The committee set up by the Film Federation of India was headed by noted Kannada filmmaker and actor T.S. Nagabharana who convened with his fellow members of the jury in Chennai recently to carefully pick the entry. The 17-member committee had quite a task on hand to choose from 13 different films from across the country, each carrying its own inherent culture, language, and nuance. However, Pan Nalin's innocent and humane take on the magic of celluloid in Last Film Show impressed everyone for a transparent, unanimous decision.

"The main criteria of the selection was 'Indianness' and Pan Nalin's film brimmed with that. It showcased the ethos and heritage of Indian cinema in such a beautiful way that the foreign audiences would get to see the perfect picture of the Indian nuance. Not many know that Pan Nalin is a seasoned and a very good filmmaker and he, along with producer Siddharth Roy Kapur, has put his heart and soul into the project. It's an incredibly honest film and each actor in the film is living the character," shares T.S. Nagabharana.

The cast of Last Film Show or Chhello Show includes Bhavin Rabri, Vikas Bata, Richa Meena, Bhavesh Shrimali, Dipen Raval, and Rahul Koli. As a semi-autobiographical narrative, the Gujarati film is centered on little boy Samay whose life in rural Gujarat as a tea-seller is turned around when he encounters the magic and science of light that lay behind the celluloid film projection. As he pursues his true passion for the 'film show' with all sincerity, he encounters the looming threat of the digital revolution. 

Director Pan Nalin's rather discerning and mature take on this conundrum too has proven to be a factor for the Oscars committee's selection. Speaking about the same, T.S. Nagabharana adds, "There is palpable optimism about the film which impressed us all. The digital era is causing a massive cultural shift around us and we are in the middle of an important changing period at the moment. But the filmmaker treats the subject with great care and shows how the digital revolution impacts the dreamer in this 9-year-old village boy - be it the visuals, the performances, or the use of the background score, everything has been done with precision."

The 13 films up for selection included six Hindi language films, one Tamil, two belonging to Telugu Cinema, one Malayalam , one Gujarati, one Bengali, and one film of the Dimasa language of Assam. Some of the top contenders of the lot were Vivek Agnihotri's The Kashmir Files, S.S. Rajamouli's RRR, Rahul Sankrityan's Shyam Singha Roy, and the Malayalam thriller Malayankunju directed by Sajimon Prabhakar. 

Despite the influx of the high-profile content, T.S. Nagabharana says that the committee remained unfazed and only judged content on merit. "There was no pressure on any of us to choose to the more popular films. When Indian cinema is competing for International awards, one must only look for authenticity and how much will the selection score over the rest," he adds.

Last Film Show had its World premiere at Tribeca Film Festival in 2021 and won the Golden Spike award at the 66th Valladolid International Film Festival (2021). A joint production of Roy Kapur Films, Jugaad Motion Pictures, Monsoon Films, Marc Duale, and Chhello Show LLP, Last Film Show will release in theatres in Gujarat and other select centers in India on October 14, 2022.

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