Another Tea Seller from Gujarat cracks it, this time for Oscars

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Another Tea Seller from Gujarat cracks it, this time for Oscars.

| Updated: September 21, 2022 11:30

Nalin was a small boy with big dreams in the remote Khijadia village in Saurashtra. As this boy who hated studying helped out his father who sold tea at the Khijadia railway station outside Amreli, he would want to run to watch the movies.

Fillam, as films are still called in this region, was the only escape from reality for people living in these underdeveloped areas.

Bhavnagar district then was a nondescript, neglected district with Rajkot surpassing it in all sectors. In Gujarat, Bhavnagar district was dubbed a paradise for retired people. But all along, arts, culture reigned here. Then, Khijadia and Amreli were part of Bhavnagar district.

Now at 57, Nalin who is known as PanNalin, shortened from Nalin Pandya has nothing to complain about.

Nalin Pandya

His film Chhello Show is India’s official entry for the Oscars this year. Nalin Arvindkumar Pandya, the tea seller has arrived. 

Though Adtal, the village Nalin was born in, did not have a cinema hall, it did not deter him from dreaming big and dreaming movies. At the age of nine, he saw his first film. And he was clear. His dream was to be a filmmaker.

Born in Adtala, a small village in Lathi taluka of Amreli district (then Bhavnagar district), Nalin had no access to television, forget cinema theatres.

Imagine Adtala around 1965-66 when Nalin Pandya was born. Today, Adtala’s population is less than 4500 people. According to the 2011 census, there were 2187 people. Just 457 families. In the sixties, Ramnik Pandya had a tea stall at the nearby Khijadia railway station. His son Nalin, who was not interested in his studies helped him at the tea stall.

Everyone in the world knows, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s humble rise from Vadnagar railway station where he helped his father who had a tea stall but not many know that Nalin Pandya, while helping his father sell tea, plotted how to escape to achieve his dreams minus a brilliant academic record.

Nalin Pandya’s Story

When he grew and crossed his teens, he just did that. He escaped his village. He spent some time in Vadodara. Amreli was a part of the Baroda State before independence so Baroda was Nalin’s first destination. There, he tried hard and after much difficulty secured admission at the fine arts department of the M S University. By now, Hollywood had become Nalin’s first love. This love got consolidated when Nalin came to National Institute of Design(NID) in Ahmedabad. It was here that he first watched the Oscars. And since then, Nalin has never missed watching the Oscars ceremony live. “It was a dream come true. Just watching the Oscars gave me a different sort of a satisfaction”, says PanNalin. In his mid twenties, Nalin started dreaming of settling down in Mumbai because Bollywood was Mumbai.

Nalin Pandya (PanNalin)

What is Chhello Show About

Chello Show, which means The Last Show is an entertaining (and as PanNalin says enlightening) movie about a young boy called Samay(which means time) who is fascinated with movies. Samay has no access to multiplexes. His love affair with movies began on a dry summer day from the projection booth of a rundown movie theatre. Chhello Show is a coming of age drama. It is scheduled for release on October 14. The Oscars are slated to be held on March 12,2023.

Chhello Show’s Real Life Connection With Pan Nalin

The reel life of Samay, the protagonist in Chhello Show played by Bhavin Rabari is deeply connected to the real life of Pan Nalin. Like Nalin, Samay also is enamoured by movies. Like Nalin, Samay also lives in Amreli district. PanNalin shot this film in Chalala, a small village in Amreli district. CHhello Show is a fun movie about movie making from the eyes of a child.

Chhello Show, the wide-eyed protagonist Samay, a young boy in a small village in Gujarat’s Saurashtra region, discovers ‘fillam’ (film) and gets enamoured by the 35mm medium of sound and light playing at the speed of 24 frames a second.

Chhello Show

Premiered at Tribeca Film Festival in the US last year, it was shot on location in Gir Somnath, Junagadh, Amreli and Rajkot districts. Nalin termed the work “very intimate and organic” as he decided to shoot at places where he had grown up in Saurashtra.

Produced by Siddharth Roy Kapur and others, CHhello Show has been showing at various film festivals across the world. Featuring actors namely Bhavin Rabari, Bhavesh Shrimali, Richa Meena, Dipen Raval and Paresh Mehta, the movie has already won multiple awards including the Golden Spike at the 66th Valladolid Film Festival in Spain. 

Is Chhelo Show Pan Nalin’s first film?

After making documentaries for BBC, National Geographic and Discovery Channel, Pan Nalin moved to France. He then moved to Hollywood.

 He made his first docu-drama ‘Born Criminal’ with French production company Arte and never looked back. His first feature film as director, Samsara, was a huge commercial world-wide and won him some international awards. Samsara as of now has already grossed $25 million.

Indian films in the Oscars

The Oscars last year saw the Tamilian drama Koozhangal (Pebbles) as the official entry, however, it failed to make it to the top 5. The movie was directed by Vinothraj PS and was about a man looking for his wife across the deserts of Tamil Nadu after she flees due to domestic violence. Talking of the top 5 list, Aamir Khan’s blockbuster Lagaan (2001) was the last film representing India among the top nominees. Prior to it, Mother India (1958) and Salaam Bombay (1989) were the ones that made the final cut. Amongst Gujarati films, The Good Road was the first Gujarati film that was nominated for Oscars in 2013 but it did not make any cut.

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