In 'Chhello Show' (Last Film Show) you reconnect to your Gujarati roots – how was that and does the film have some autobiographical elements?
“I grew up in the countryside in Kathiawar in Saurashtra, Gujarat.There are storytellers who used to come to our village as there was no cinema – you’d need to take a one-hour train ride to watch a movie - but these storytellers were very popular. They would come with a harmonium in the evening, sit and talk, tell stories and there was always some kind of a hidden spiritual message. So it always impressed me that one guy with just a harmonium can have 500 villagers listening to him till midnight, and this tradition continues even today.
“I never thought I'd ever make an autobiographical film because I never thought there was anything exciting to say about my childhood. I'm not a fan of such stories because it happens to millions of kids across the word. In 2010 I visited one of my friends who was almost like a teacher to me; he was a film projector operator with whom I used to share my lunch as a kid – I’d give him my school lunch and he used to let me watch films for free from the projection booth. I went to meet him, and he was living in poverty. He told me stories about how he and his friends had their single screen cinemas shut down because digital multiplexes have taken over.
“He doesn't know how to read and so he can't operate the digital projector which is a whole different process. He didn’t know what else to do and had friends in a similar position. We started talking about cinema and what happened to those projectors and film reels, how they were destroyed and how many screens are shutting across the world, and it really hit me – it crushed me to the core - because that was my entire childhood.
“So that’s how 'Last Film Show' started. I realised that it will be one decade since the disappearance of celluloid, so I thought it was a good time to make a film about it because these were the teachers who taught me, gave meaning to my life as a filmmaker and I’ve learned so much from many filmmakers. I wanted to go back to my roots and find a way of telling my story but at the same time, talk about cinema as a love letter. So that’s how Chhello Show was born, and I ended up shooting in all the places I grew up.”