Pan Nalin’s Last Film Show is a joyful story of a young Indian boy’s love for film and his drive to achieve an unlikely career in film making.
The film is semi-autobiographical: writer-director Nalin was born to a struggling family in a remote part of Gujarat and rose to become an internationally respected film director.
His film stars a nine-year-old local boy, Bhavin Rabari, chosen from 3000 applicants, who carries the film on his shoulders with boundless energy and enthusiasm.
He plays the mischievous Samay, whose stern father Bapuji (Dipen Raval) has a tea stand at the Chalala train station. Samay sells Bapuji’s freshly-made tea to passing travellers.
The boy is delighted when his father, who disapproves of the cinema, decides to take the family to see a religion-themed film in the next town.
It is a life-changing experience for Samay, enchanted by the images he sees on screen and the magic of the light from the projector. He starts skipping school to sneak into the cinema – until he is caught and thrown out by the manager.
He is saved by his friendshhip with the projectionist, Fazal (an exuberant Bhavesh Shrimali), who strikes a deal when he spots the delicious lunch packed for Samay by his beatiful mother Baa (Richa Meena).
She takes great joy in creating mouth-watering meals for her family – emphasised by the tempting overhead shots by cinematographer Swapnil S. Sonawane.
One taste and Fazal is hooked – he invites Samay to join him in the projection room every day, in exchange for sharing his lunch.
Not only does Samay get to see the movies, he also experiences the thrill of learning how the reels of film are spliced and loaded and transformed by light into moving pictures in the theatre below.
Determined to create his own movie theatre, he inspires his friends (an appealing quintet of local boys) to scavenge mirrors and other bits and pieces to built a rough projector in an abandoned village nearby.
It is 2010 and suddenly the advent of digital film turns their world upside down. They are dismayed to see a mountain of cast-off reels of film abandoned and destroyed, along with all kinds of projection equipment.
Last Film Show is a salute to traditional 35mm film-making, to the great film-makers who pioneered the art and to all those who are thrilled by the magic of movies.
Last Film Show is now showing at Luna Leederville and the Windsor.
Watch the trailer…