Rahul Koli, a child actor in the Gujrati film Chhello Show or Last Film Show, which is India’s official entry at the 95th Academy Awards International Film Feature category, died of cancer at the age of ten on October 2 after battling Leukemia for several months.

Pan Nalin’s film is a coming-of-age drama starring Bhavin Rabari, Bhavesh Shrimali, Richa Meena, Dipen Raval, and Paresh Mehta. The movie, which debuted at the 20th Tribeca Film Festival on June 10, 2021, will release in theatres on October 14.

Chhello Show is inspired by the director’s memories of his childhood and revolves around Samay (Bhavin Rabari), a nine-year-old from the Indian village of Chalala in Saurashtra, Gujarat, who spends his entire summer watching films from the projection room of a derelict movie theatre by paying a very small amount to the projectionist Fazal (Bhavesh Shrimali).

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Enamoured by films and the art of film production, the protagonist is determined to pursue a career in cinema, oblivious to the disastrous experiences that await him.

Who was Rahul Kohli?  

Rahul Koli hailed from Hapa Village in Jamnagar, Gujarat. His father Ramu Koli drives an autorickshaw. Rahul went to school at a local government school in his hometown. 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. He was one of the six children cast in the film. 

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Koli has played the role of the friend of the nine-year-old protagonist Samay (Bhavin Rabari) in the upcoming Gujarati film. 

“On Sunday, October 2, he had his breakfast, and then after repeated bouts of fever in the following hours, Rahul vomited blood thrice, and just like that, my child was no more,” his father Ramu Koli said in an interview with the Times Of India. “Our entire family is devastated. However, after we complete his final purification rituals, we will all watch his ‘last film show’ together on October 14th.”

Ramu said that he had to sell his auto to help pay for Rahul’s treatment. However, when the crew of the film found out, they helped him buy back the auto. “We have been with the family looking after Rahul for weeks but in the end, he could not be saved,” Pan Nalin said.