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Pan Nalin- the Indian under Spotlight

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For anyone who has been fed on the masala Bollywood films, the repertory related to the world of cinema and the world cinema is rather limited other than watching the world though the ubiquitous Bollywood lens.

The first time I heard of Pan Nalin was at the Paris Salon du Cinema in January this year. His name was mentioned for the conference Indian Cinema today along with Praveen Nischol and Subho Bhattacharjee. He was also on the panel for Indo-French coproductions with Amitabh Bachchan. The name was intriguing enough to evoke a search for more information on Pan Nalin.



Born in a modest family, Pan Nalin's story could itself be the subject of an inspiring film. Pan Nalin was born Nalin Pandya. Like most Indian children, having parents with limited means and less exposure to the 'outside world', Nalin gave vent to his creativity through drawing and painting instead of academics. From a remote village in Gujarat, he went on to do further studies in Fine Arts at the MS University, Baroda and later at the prestigious National Institute of Design.

Thus armed with academic degrees which are considered so essential in the Indian world to make an advancement in one's preferred area of interest, the real world of media was not far away. He was noticed by the Durga Khote productions- his first Bollywood break after five years of being in Bombay. He worked on some short films and commercial before itching to carve out his own niche. Starting his own company, he worked with the BBC, the National Geographic, Discovery Channel and the others. Probably his resume of working with such channels and an inner quest to learn gave him the adventurous streak. He travelled extensively through Europe, USA and parts of Asia, thus gaining a unique perspective on life from his experiences- partly spiritual because of his wanderings and exchanges with the Busshist monks and partly this-wordly.

His creative vision blossomed in his first feature film titled Samsara - a double DVD edition of which I am a proud owner! The subject deals with the dilemma we often have on our quests- whether to live in this world or to renounce it all. With an open ending, the audience is left to answer the question for themselves. With such a premise and an inside view into a monk's life, Samsara (2001) became a critical and commercial success, grossing more than €20 Mn worldwide. It featured Shawn Ku and Christy Chung in the lead role.

Ayurveda- Art of Being (2001), Valley of Flowers (2006) have all been lapped up an eager audience in a bid to get a unique perspective that Pan Nalin shares with us through his media. Valley of Flowers featured Naseeruddin Shah and Milind Soman.

His Zen take on the Notes on the Cinematographer (Robert Bresson) is present in the 'Notes on the Zenematographer'- a little booklet that comes with the DVD. I was a bit deceived with the brevity of the text but then corrected myself at the thought of the very message that less is more! Indeed.

The last time I heard about Pan Nalin was for his short film 'Echo for Eco'- a United Nations project. In this attempt, 30 films makers from 30 countries will make short films regarding the environment. Echo for Eco features Harman Baweja.

The writer-director is currently busy making his epic Buddha. I can't wait to see the movie. FroIndians in Paris - Administrationm the website, it is not clear whether the role of Buddha has been cast. I could not resist encouraging a friend, who I thought would fit the role of Buddha with his looks and meditative background, to apply for the role!

Nalin has been on the panels and jury for many prestigious International Film Festivals. Now in his forties, Pan Nalin shares residence with India and France. We wish him the best and expect to see more of him in the International circuit.


Pan Nalin in Media

From a tea stall in Amreli to Hollywood

Read more from the online edition of Times of India (May '08)

Samsara is all about Choices

Read more from the MonsterandCritics.com (June '06)


You might also like to read:

Manu Rewal- Indian under Spotlight

Vikas Swarup- Indian under Spotlight

Celebrating Indian Cinema in Paris

Indians under spotlight in Paris


External links to Pan Nalin

Buddha the Film

Samsara the Film

Valley of Flowers the Film

Monsoon Films