SHOEBOXDirected by Faraz Ali
Cast: Amrita Bagchi, Ashok Pathak, Ashutosh Sohan, Purnendu Bhattacharya
Best Film, 2022 New York Indian Film Festival
Official Selection, 2022 Mumbai Film Festival
In Faraz Ali’s debut feature, Mampu Chaterjee returns to her hometown of Allahabad to care for Madhav, her aging father, as he fights hopelessly to keep his single screen movie theater from being consumed by development. Through flashbacks to Mampu’s youth, lit up by the magic of the theater, Ali underscores the ravages of time and the origins of a tense father-daughter relationship—now further jeopardized by Madhav’s cavalier attitude towards his failing health.
As a campaign to rename the city of Allahabad highlights the changes in their midst, Mampu and her uncle attempt to help Madhav come to terms with the inevitability of progress and let go of the past. The developers who wish to buy out his property prove less sympathetic; when their ruthlessness reveals itself, Mampu is sent on a dark and labyrinthine journey to uncover the sinister forces reshaping the geography of her childhood.
Set against the backdrop of the world’s biggest spiritual festival, the Kumbh Mela, SHOEBOX illustrates the disorienting spectacle of an ancient culture hurtling into the capitalist present. Ali’s careful attention to his characters’ reactions registers the emotional toll of all this upheaval, placing a father and daughter’s love for cinema and each other at the heart of its concerns.