Chhello Show (Last Film Show) is directed by Pan Nalinand stars Bhavin Rabari, Richa Meena, Deepen Raval, and Bhavesh Shrimali in key roles. The movie is India’s official entry to the Oscars.
Director: Pan Nalin
Writer: Pan Nalin
Cast: Bhavin Rabari, Richa Meena, Dipen Raval, Bhavesh Shrimali
‘Brahmins will only watch a film if it’s based on a deity,’ a fact that Samay’s father establishes at the very beginning of the movie. Dipen Raval aka the father is a tea vendor at a small railway station named Chalala in Gujarat. His son, Samay (Bhavin Rabari) is his little assistant who helps him sell tea to the passing trains that stop at the village railway station. The two along with Samay’s mother and his little sister go to the city to watch a movie based on Maa Kaali. And while the audience enjoys watching Amrita Rao dance on the screen, Samay finds himself amused by the world of cinema. He decides he wants to make films, a career option his father deems unfit for a Brahmin.
However, the little one pays no heed to his father’s advice. He misses school and even steals money from his father once to go and watch films. His love for movies only grows fonder, for him to be thrown out of the theatre one day for not having a ticket. However, he quickly finds a solution to it.
Fazal, the projectionist (Bhavesh Shrimali), allows him in the projection room on a barter deal. He promises to feed him his mother’s tiffin every day in order to be allowed inside the projection room. And his love for cinema is infectious. His little buddies also catch on to the keeda of films. Samay makes sure he keep their love intact and goes to measures far and beyond to make them watch films – a sweet take on friendship that matter.
But if movies have taught us anything, it’s the fact that things cannot always go the way we want. In the day and age when everything is quickly changing, the celluloid life also changed to digital reels. The evolution of cinema takes place and Samay sees his world shattering in front of him. It’s the end of an era for both Samay and the old single-screen theatres.
But all’s well, that ends well. Samay’s father, who always thought that the movie world is a filthy place, acknowledges his son’s love for cinema. He gives him an opportunity to explore the world of stardom, of movie theatres and the stories that entertain the world. The end is an emotional conclusion but will put a smile on your face.
Rabari has done an excellent job of emoting Samay’s feelings on the screen. Being able to keep the audience engaged with his acting at such a young age is pure talent. Dipen Raval, as a regressive yet tender-hearted father, makes a soft spot in your heart. Richa Meena, who has very few frames in the film, still manages to be noticed. Her scenes with Samay are the warmest part of the film. Bhavesh Shrimali as Fazal is the greatest friend one can find. His camaraderie with Rabari’s character is so good that you actually get convinced that friendships like these do exist in real life as well.
The supporting cast including Vikas Bata, late Rahul Koli, Shoban Makwa, Kishan Parmar, Vijay Mer, Alpesh Tank and Tia Sebastien have also done an exceptional job. Director of Photography – Swapnil S. Sonawane – has Gujarat in its most pleasing essence. He manages to take you on a journey to the 2010 Gujarat and makes you fall in love with the small town of Chalala and its young/ old people.
While Chhello Show is like a warm hug to anyone who loves cinema or dreams to be a part of it, what makes the story a little less impactful are some scenes that did not make sense. The little boy grasps everything too quickly, to the extent that he along with his friends learns how to construct a make-shift rundown theatre. The food that Samay’s mother cooks looks delicious, but also par excellence to a master chef’s dish. A scene where Samay is punished for a crime did not make sense. You’d probably agree once you watch the scenes. Also, Pan Nalin’s almost semi-autobiographical tale, who himself started his journey from a remote Saurashtra village, seems to be inspired by the 1988 Italian classic, Cinema Paradiso.
But that doesn’t take away from the fact that the film has so much to offer. It’s a nostalgic trip to the days when single-screen theatres were a huge buzz, when Amitabh Bachchan’s films were houseful and when vintage ticket booths were a thing. The film also takes you through a few scenes where it is explained what happened to the many reels, many projectors that were removed from the cinema. It’s an emotional journey.
Religion and India have a very close relationship, and this film displays the equation beautifully. Fazal is a Muslim, showing a film to a Brahmin boy. After the theatres shut down and Fazal loses his job, Samay helps him get a job at the train station. Also, films bind religions together. When people watch a film or work at theatres, it doesn’t matter who you are. You are there just to watch a film.
Watch the film to see how exceptionally good Rabari is, for a little nostalgia and a sweet, happy feeling at the end of the film.
(Featured Image Credits: Twitter)