Film “The light from which dreams are made”: children of cinema – culture

The lights! The colors! The music! The intoxication of movement! It is love at first sight when nine-year-old Samay, from a poor background in a remote village in India, experiences cinema for the first time. He immediately decides to make films his profession. Wherever he goes, sits and stands, he explores the magic of light from now on, catches the sun’s rays with his hands and throws shadow plays on the wall, looks at the world through colorful broken glass and observes the refraction of light. “I want to understand light,” he says, “because light becomes stories, and stories become films.” But his father, a strictly religious Brahmin, has little understanding for his son’s new passion: “The film world is indecent and violates all of our values,” he railed, “Have you ever heard that the son of a Brahmin has such a disgraceful job might?”

Samay is a soul mate to little Billie Elliott. Just as he had to defend his passion for dancing a good twenty years ago against the masculinity of British coal miners, Samay now has to assert his lifelong dream against his father’s anti-image traditions. From then on, after school, he secretly sneaks into the cinema in the nearest large city. He becomes friends with the projectionist Fazal. He willingly trades the lunch his mother lovingly prepares for the opportunity to watch films through the projection room window. Fazal also initiates him into the secrets of cinema projection, into the interplay of light and darkness, of movement and stillness.

"The light that dreams are made of": Samay trades his mother's delicious meals for admission to the cinema.

Samay trades his mother’s delicious meals for admission to the cinema.

(Photo: New Visions)

Samay soon infects his friends with his enthusiasm for the cinema. The boys discover the warehouse that distributes the rolls of film across the country and steal a few of them, causing a huge uproar in theaters when the film cuts short at the most thrilling moments. It is a touching image as the children lie on the grass, slipping the film strips through their fingers and holding them up to the sunlight. Then they make an improvised silent film projector out of scrap parts and organize a screening for the whole community. The children play the sound live, using the tricks of the classic foley artists. The drumming of small hands on the chest becomes the stomping of horses, they simulate the wind by blowing into a bottleneck, clinking keys and trickling pebbles become treasure, and like in a puppet theater they warn against the bad guys and cheer on the good guys. Another coup are the child actors, all of whom exude their natural charm for the first time in front of the camera, above all Bhavin Rabari as the director’s youthful alter ego. Pan Nalin’s sense of documentary always shines through and prevents the film from becoming kitschy or sentimental.

The director himself experienced the happiness of storytelling in his youth

Many film directors have talked about the cinema as a lifesaver and a source of meaning, as a way of escaping from poor and desperate conditions: just like Giuseppe Tornatore in “Cinema Paradiso” and most recently Kenneth Branagh in “Belfast”, the Indian director Pan Nalin (“Samsara” ) his own cinema initiation, which here has downright spiritual dimensions. The fact that the sparks of enthusiasm for the magic of cinema fly so directly has a lot to do with the sensuality that he creates in his pictures. This not only applies to the magic of the light, but also to the culinary delicacies that Samay’s mother prepares from rice, vegetables and brightly colored spices while sitting on the floor. In such moments, “The Light That Dreams Are Made of” is reminiscent of Ritesh Batra’s love-through-the-stomach romance “Lunchbox”.

The homage to the happiness of storytelling, as Nan Palin experienced it himself in his youth as the son of a Brahman tea seller, repeatedly becomes a declaration of love for his Indian homeland. At the same time, “The light from which dreams are made” is also a wistful farewell to classic film projection. In the end, Samay follows the truck with the old rolls of film, which are given a new, colorful, glittering purpose in a recycling factory.

Last Film Show, India, France, USA, 2021 – Written and directed by Pan Nalin. Camera: Swapnil S.Sonawane. Starring: Bhavin Rabari, Richa Meena, Bhavesh Shrimali, Dipen Raval. New visions, 112 minutes. Theatrical release: May 12, 2022.