Following news of her father’s illness, Mampu leaves her college life in Pune and returns to her hometown in Allahabad. Amidst a turbulent sociopolitical climate that wants the old razed to dust, the city is a shell of its former self, gutted off its rich secular history, and granted a new, Hindu-centric name. Victim to the times is also the movie theater Mampu’s father has proudly operated for years, now prey to ruthless retail developers. We follow Mampu across fragments of memory she finds refuge in, as she urgently strives to reconnect with her obstinate father who vigorously clings on to a life that’s fast disappearing. As the narrative takes unexpected turns, Mampu must take hold of the reins, and choose what battles are worth fighting.
Bristling with authenticity, this stirring directorial debut paints a multi-layered portrait of a city in violent transition, in all its disfigurement and tragic vulnerability. At the heart of it emerges a clear-eyed portrait of a young woman coming of age, effortlessly embodied by Amrita Bagchi. Faraz Ali eloquently uses the intimate father-daughter relationship to speak of the value of our personal and communal histories, inviting us to contemplate the responsibility each generation has to weigh the burden of preserving the past through winds of change.
Faraz Ali is an Indian writer-director working in both art and commercial disciplines. After his master’s in advertising, he went to an immersive film appreciation program at FTII, Pune. Werner Herzog mentored Ali at the Rogue Film School in Munich, Germany. SHOEBOX is his first feature film.