Pan Nalin is a Paris-based Indian director, producer, and screenplay writer, who has directed and produced several Indian and international films. In September 2022, he made headlines after his 2021 Gujarati film Chhello Show (The Last Film Show) was nominated for the Oscars 2023.
Nalinkumar Ramniklal Pandya aka Pan Nalin was born in 1965 (age 57 years; as of 2022) in Adtala village, Amreli district, Gujarat, India. After completing his school studies, Pan Nalin pursued a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts at The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda after which he studied design at the National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad.
Height (approx.): 5′ 7″
Hair Colour: Salt and Pepper
Eye Colour: Dark Brown
Pan Nalin with Abhay Deol
Pan Nalin belongs to a Gujarati family.
Parents & Siblings
His father, Ramniklal Pandya, was a tea vendor. He has a sister and a brother.
After completing his formal education, Pan Nalin left Gujarat and moved to Mumbai, where he got a major break in 1988 when he got an opportunity to work with R. K. Laxman, a famous Indian cartoonist, in the TV serial Wagle Ki Duniya, which was aired on Doordarshan (DD). In 1991, Pan Nalin made his directorial debut with the Hindi short film titled The Khajuraho. In 1992, Pan Nalin was hired by Durga Khote Productions, where he worked as a director and made several successful commercial films. Later on, Pan Nalin left Durga Khote Productions and went abroad to work with companies like BBC, Discovery, Canal+, and many more. For the French TV channel Canal+, Pan Nalin produced documentaries on Bollywood superstars like Shah Rukh Khan and Sridevi. In 1992, Pan Nalin and Yolande Zauberman, a French producer, co-produced a docudrama film titled Born Criminal (Caste Criminelle), which was nominated at the Cannes Film Festival. After the release of Born Criminal, Pan Nalin produced and directed several other films and documentaries such as The Tulkus (1993), The Nagas (1994), The Doubt (1995), Kaal (1996), The Devadasi (1997), Amazing World India (1999), and many more. In March 2000, Pan Nalin founded Monsoon Films, a film production company in New Delhi and later on shifted it to Mumbai. In 2001, Pan Nalin directed his first feature film titled Samsara, which won many accolades at award shows such as Durban International Film Festival, Galway Film Fleadh, Melbourne International Film Festival, São Paulo International Film Festival, and many more. The film was released in India, France, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland.
A poster of Samsara, Pan Nalin’s film
In the same year, Pan Nalin produced a documentary titled Ayurveda: Art of Being, which won the Audience Award at the 2003 Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles. In 2004, Pan Nalin produced a documentary titled Speaking Tree. In 2006, Pan Nalin co-produced a film titled Valley of Flowers, which won the Best Feature Film award at the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles.
A poster of Pan Nalin’s film Valley of Flowers
Pan Nalin’s 2013 documentary Faith Connections won the Audience Choice award at the 2014 Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles.
A poster of Faith Connections, a documentary made by Pan Nalin
In 2015, Pan Nalin directed the controversial Hindi film titled Angry Indian Goddesses, which was released on Netflix, an OTT platform. According to several media sources, when the film was submitted for certification from the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), the censor board gave the film an “A” certification and recommended the removal of 16 scenes from the film. Talking about it, Pahlaj Nihalani, the former chairman of CBFC, said,
Until you watch the movie, you will not know why some of the words have been asked to be omitted. When the committee is watching the film, they know what context these words are used in. The producer has accepted the cuts, because he first applied to the revising committee, and then he withdrew the application at the very last minute, even after he was given a date and time [for a hearing]. The committee’s job is to watch the movie; the panel members have given this decision. I had told the producer of the film that if he is not comfortable with it [the decision], he could follow the protocol, and take it forward, but he chose not to, which means he agrees with the decision.”
A poster of Pan Nalin’s film Angry Indian Goddesses
The film, Angry Indian Goddesses, won BNL People’s Choice Award at the 2015 Rome Film Fest. In 2016, Pan Nalin directed a short film titled 2183 DAYS, which was shown at the Euro Film Festival. In 2017, Pan Nalin directed the film titled Beyond The Known World (The Disappearance of Eva Hansen). In 2021, Pan Nalin produced and directed the Gujarati film titled Chhello Show (The Last Film Show), which has won several awards at international award shows like Valladolid International Film Festival, Milwaukee Film Festival, and Mill Valley Film Festival.
A poster of Pan Nalin’s film Chello Show
On 20 September 2022, Pan Nalin’s co-produced film Chhello Show was nominated for the 2023 Oscars. According to Pan Nalin, the film was based on his childhood memory of developing a fondness for cinema. Talking about it, he said,
I wanted to tell a story about the kids who grow up in the countryside and how they start innovating to create their own kind of cinema, and storytelling. Nothing can stop these kids. When you have nothing to lose, nothing should stop you. It is a story of inspiration, hope, valuing family, friends, cinema, storytellers, innocence and innovation. It has reconnected me back with my roots.”
A still from Pan Nalin’s film Chello Show
Controversy over the selection of the film by the jury
In September 2022, after the Film Federation of India (FFI) nominated the Chello Show for the Oscars, the Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE) said that the FFI nominated the film to the Oscars unjustly and demanded the nomination of a new film by FFI. According to FWICE, the film was not an Indian film because it was originally produced by Orange Studios, which is a France-based company, and the co-producer of the film, Siddharth Roy Kapur, only bought the rights to the film. The FWICE also claimed that the film was a copy of the 1988 Oscar-winning Italian movie Cinema Paradiso. Talking about it, the President of FWICE said,
This year’s nomination of the film ‘Chhello Show’ as India’s Official Entry to the 95th Oscar Award is not as per the usual norms and has therefore created a lot of doubts and issues we thought of raising. We strongly feel that the selection process was not thoroughly followed. We have nothing personal against the producers and makers of the film which has been nominated to the Oscars, but at the same time, the real successors of this award cannot be left in a dilemma as it is very wrong and completely unjustified.”
- During an interview, Pan Nalin said that to finance his education at the National Institute of Design (NID), he used to work at a gas station.
- According to Pan Nalin, he was born into a poor family and could not afford toys to play with as a child; therefore, Nalin and his friends used to create shadow play with the help of a torch and his mother’s white saree. Talking about it, he said,
We did not have any toys. So, we would put up my mother’s white saree and use the torch to create shadow plays. Somewhere unconsciously, the light was a fascinating part of my childhood. The torchlight in the night, and the sunlight in the daytime it became an integral part of my storytelling.”
- In September 2022, after Pan Nalin’s Chello Show was nominated by the FFI jury for the 2023 Oscars, the Indian food processing company Amul congratulated him by releasing a cartoon.
Amul’s ad congratulating Pan Nalin for his film’s nomination