Film Federation of India has reacted to numerous objections about its decision to send Pan Nalin’s Gujarati film Chhello Show as India’s official entry for the Best International Feature Film category at the 95th Academy Awards. The Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE) has claimed that Chhello Show is not even an Indian film and also suggested that it could be a copy of the Oscar-winning Italian film Cinema Paradiso (1998).
Film Federation of India (FFI) president TP Aggarwal expressed confidence in its jury’s decision to select Chhello Show as India’s official entry to the Oscars instead of popular contenders like RRR and The Kashmir Files. However, he was not too sure about the claims of it not being an Indian film in the first place.
FWICE has claimed that Chhello Show, released in English as Last Film Show is primarily produced by foreign studios and its major producer Orange Studios is also a foreign studio. Asked why the film is being considered Indian when it has been produced by international studios, TP Aggarwal told Indian Express, “I cannot say anything about that, I am not sure about it.”
Reacting to claims about it being a copy of Cinema Paradiso, the FFI president said, “No, I had asked the jury members, they’ve seen the picture so many times and they said no (it is not a copy). Not a single scene is similar in the film. It can be inspired by that, but it is not a copy.”
FWICE has also said that the film was released in 2021 and cannot qualify for the 2022 Oscars, but the FFI president clarified they had already taken permission from the Academy for the same. Chhello Show follows a nine-year-old boy in Gujarat as he falls in love with cinema for life. The story is based in Saurashtra in Gujarat and is said to be semi-autobiographical, as Pan Nalin was also born and brought up in Saurashtra.