Indian director Pan Nalin returned to his childhood roots for his latest project Last seen movieswhich is playing in competition at the Red Sea International Film Festival this week.
“I was about nine years old when I saw the first film, which was of course popular Indian cinema, what we call Bollywood, and I was fascinated,” Nalin said, speaking to Deadline’s Red Sea Studio. “And I didn’t want to do anything else from then on except make movies – I didn’t even know what that meant.”
Last seen movies (Chhello show) is India’s official entry for the Best International Feature Oscar race. Shot in Gujarat, western India, where Nalin grew up, the film pays homage to the cinema of yesteryear – a reminder of childhood innocence and the universal magic of movies. It follows Samay, a 9-year-old boy who lives with his family in a remote Indian village and discovers movies for the first time.
Talking about working with Nalin, actress Richa Meena, who plays Samay’s mother, said that she went into the role blindly. Nalin said he is “famous for not giving scripts”.
“She just briefed me about the character, Meena said, adding, “She doesn’t talk much and she’s also very content, so I was like okay, this is a very difficult thing. I have to work a lot internally to bring it externally.”
About working with Nalin, Meena said: “When you really respect someone’s work, there’s a feeling that you can’t avoid it, but you’re nervous because you don’t want to do something that’s not right, you just want to be the best you. You don’t want to disappoint.”
He added: “It still makes me nervous.”
Nalin talked about Meena’s character saying, “It was a very unusual relationship because of the character. Her character should talk a lot less and be the strongest at the end of the movie. So at first glance, on the first layer, it’s like she’s just a woman who cooks all the time in the kitchen. But as the film progresses, wordlessly, we realize how powerful her impact was on little Samay, her husband, and the entire future of the family.”
Producer Siddharth Roy Kapur spoke positively of Saudi Arabia opening up to the world, saying, “I’m really amazed at how preconceptions about the place are being blown to pieces in a sense. It’s great to see a more liberal society. The fact that cinema in the last five years has actually been accessible to the world on screens, in theatres, which was not the case earlier. And just the energy and atmosphere of the festival, the sense of boundaries being pushed, the sense that all things are acceptable in terms of the kind of films that are shown here, the events surrounding the festival. I think it’s great.”
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