Child star of India's Oscar entry 'Chhello Show' dies of blood cancer
AHMEDABAD: Rahul Koli was very much excited to see "Chhello Show", India's official entry to Oscars 2023, on screen, but days before its release the teenage actor who played the character of the friend of the protagonist in the Gujarati film died of leukemia.
He was 17.
"Chhello Show" (Last Film Show), directed by Pan Nalin, is slated for October 14 release.
Rahul, who hails from Hapa town in Gujarat's Jamnagar district, died of leukemia on October 2, nearly four months after he was hospitalised at the cancer hospital in Ahmedabad, his father Ramu Koli said on Tuesday.
Rahul has played the role of the friend of the nine-year-old protagonist Samay (Bhavin Rabari) in the Gujarati coming-of-age drama "Chhello Show".
The film was nominated as India's official entry for the 95th Academy Awards.
"Rahul was looking forward to watching the movie on the big screen. He used to say that the release of the movie would launch his future, little knowing that he would die before October 14," Koli, an autorickshaw driver, told PTI over the phone.
Rahul was diagnosed with leukaemia- the cancer of the body's blood-forming tissues- this year. He was initially treated at a Jamnagar hospital. After remaining in the hospital for two weeks, he was admitted to the Ahmedabad cancer hospital four months ago.
"He was undergoing treatment and breathed his last on October 2," Koli said.
Rahul had only seen the trailer of the movie. He was very keen to watch it in the theatre, the grieving father recalled.
Koli said the makers of the movie helped them a lot with Rahul's treatment.
"When he (director Nalin) came to know about it, he extended all possible help to us. He was even planning to shift Rahul to Mumbai," said Koli.
Rahul was selected for the role through an audition conducted in Jamnagar.
"He was picked for an audition from a government school at Hapa where he lived with his family," said Lalit Joshi, a Jamnagar-based theatre artist.
The movie is inspired by Nalin's own memories of falling in love with movies as a child in rural Gujarat and is set in a remote rural village of Saurashtra.
The film portrays the story of a nine-year-old boy and his lifelong love affair with cinema when he bribes his way into a rundown movie palace and spends a summer watching movies from the projection booth.
"Chhello Show", which features Bhavin Rabari, Bhavesh Shrimali, Richa Meena, Dipen Raval and Paresh Mehta, had its world premiere as the opening film at the Tribeca Film Festival in June last year.
It won multiple awards during its festival run, including the Golden Spike at the 66th Valladolid Film Festival in Spain where it also enjoyed commercial success during its theatrical run.