Last Film Show: India’s official Oscar entry is announced and some people aren’t happy

·3-min read

There may be six months left until the 2023 Oscars, but that doesn’t mean the film festival isn’t already creating a tonne of buzz. Today, India’s official selection for the Oscars has been announced, and Twitter is fizzing with both excitement and objections over the decision.

The film chosen for official entry is Chhello Show, also called Last Film Show, a Gujarati coming-of-age film directed by Pan Nalin. It tells the story of nine-year-old Samay, who, after sneaking into a cinema’s projection booth, becomes engrossed with the world of film. The story is semi-autobiographical: Nalin, a self-taught filmmaker, reportedly left his family at a relatively young age in order to build a career in cinema.

The film had been in the running against an Indian Telugu-language action film RRR from director S. S. Rajamouli.

RRR had been very well-received by critics with Deadline saying, “RRR is one action crescendo after another, never dull but not exhausting either”, and The Atlantic’s David Sims saying: “RRR serves as a reminder of how much modern action usually follows a formula. If wonder is to be consistently found on the big screen, then Hollywood has plenty of new lessons to learn from its best competitor.”

The New York Times said: “Rajamouli shoots the film’s action with hallucinogenic fervor, supercharging scenes with a shimmering brand of extended slow-motion and C.G.I. that feels less ‘generated’ than unleashed.” The glowing reviews meant that many people assumed that RRR was a shoo-in for this year’s Oscar slot.

Fans turned online to share their thoughts about the final selection.

“Everyone PLEASE watch LAST FILM SHOW (Chhello Show) before judging it for beating out RRR as India’s Oscar submission. This is genuinely an incredible and sweet movie that I think is a fanatic choice for Best International Picture,” said one.

“It’s heartbreaking that FFI turned down #RRR for the Oscars,” said another.

“I haven’t seen #chelloshow yet. But Pan Nalin is a very strong filmmaker with a global sensibility and a very strong voice. I am glad to see that the committee selecting our Oscar entries aren’t swayed by big budgets & can still be bold to cut through all the noise,” Tweeted a third.

Last Film Show stars child actor Bhavin Rabari alongside Bhavesh Shrimali, Richa Meena, Dipen Raval and Paresh Mehta. The film premiered at New York’s Tribeca Film Festival in June last year, where it won Audience Award First Runner-Up. Since its premiere, the film has gone on to win numerous awards including Best Picture, Golden Spike Award at Spain’s 2021 Valladolid International Film Festival and Best Picture at China’s 2021 Tiantan Award.

Dozens of films from countries around the world enter the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film category each year - last year there were as many as 93 submissions.

Nalin has made as many as 21 films (including shorts and documentaries) since beginning his career in the early nineties. His work often deals with spirituality, Buddhism and mythology. For example, the film that first brought Nalin critical acclaim was the 2001 film Samsara, which told the story of a Buddhist monk‘s search for enlightenment.