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This is a very engaging and thought provoking film about simple people leading richer {not in terms of materialistic factors} and meaningful lives, about a desolate looking boy with large brown eyes, should I say, almost tearful eyes children-of-heaven_2and his younger sister Zahra children-of-heaven_1

{from a poor family that copes with many kinds of financial difficulties everyday, every moment} trying to hide loss of shoes fr0m their parents.  The film starts with Ali returning home with his sister’s pink colored worn-out shoes that were taken to a cobbler for repairs. On his way back home, he stops at a fruit and vegetable shop to buy some potatoes for dinner. He keeps the black bag containing the shoes outside the shop, and goes inside the shop to sort through the mass of potatoes. A rag picker mistakenly takes the bag and dumps it in the dumpster-cycle thinking it is a part of the day’s junk. Teary-eyed Ali arrives home to reveal this unfortunate development to his sister who starts crying and keeps probing her brother (while doing her  school homework) about what will she wear to school. Ali comes up with a solution to manage this crisis for a while, to hide this fact that Zahra’s shoes have been lost from their parents as it would be one more burden for their parents  – both can share his pair of tattered sneakers, as her school is in the morning, while he attends his school in the afternoon. A sort of new regime is inserted into their day :  Zahra rushes back to her home without tiny a pause, meets her brother secretly in the middle of her way back home, passes the sneakers to her brother who runs to his school. But this new secret mission of swapping shoes does not prove to be a great solution as it does not allow Ali to reach his school on time, and both the children with no other better option in their hands struggle through one uncomfortable situation after another, while hiding this from their parents and teachers.

 

Meanwhile, Zahra sees her lost pair of shoes on a schoolmate’s feet, and follows her home, who eventually becomes her friend. On a day off, Ali accompanies his father to the city’s wealthier localities in search of work as a gardener for a little extra money that would take care of the family’s financial needs {their happy discussion on the dad’s rickety cycle, after a hard day’s work, about getting a new pair of shoes for the little girl, however, ends at a bitter note when the cycle collapses due to the failure of brakes – a journey of hope ends in frustration}. At school, Ali comes closer to something that is far more promising enough to resolve the shoe crisis at home : a high profile children’s race with lucrative first and second prizes, and a pair of new sneakers happens to be the third prize. Ali in his badly destroyed and tattered shoes competes and tries not to lead the race throughout, but accidentally wins the race, and the first prize, which unfortunately, is not the one he desires for (a pair of sneakers, the third prize).

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 The film ends with Zahra realizing that she will not get a new pair of shoes, but a shot of their father’s cycle at the end of the film captures a box of red shoes.

 

The film’s portrayal of life being manageable and inherently sweet {not in a very indulging manner, but the sense of fulfillment that one would feel at the end of hard work and perseverance} despite countless hardships, in a gentle & relaxed style {with basic images such as fish swimming in a pool captured with almost a poetic fascination} and the comfort of Iranian life, family and customs {like the family prepares sugar cubes to be served at the mosque, younger kids caring for elderly neighbors}  sets this earthy & essentially sunny creation apart from the rest – a young boy deeply upset about losing her sister’s shoes, his younger sister, though, grief-struck agreeing to work along with her brother  to find a solution to the crisis without burdening their parents who are facing finance driven familial worries.  Well, reminded me of my school days when we girls used to survive a whole academic year with a single pair of brown canvas shoes, which used to develop holes somewhere in the second or the third quarter of the year. A sweet of reminder of our childhood when we were deprived of basic childhood indulgences like birthday parties, dolls, and other entertainment. A sweet reminder of all those long discussions our parents used to have before every purchase/financial decision that’s beyond their capacity or demanding enough to trigger some kind of planning and managing their limited resources. A sweet reminder of   one crucial lesson that we learnt from our parents : a paisa saved is a paisa earned…certainly an incredulously alien thing for the present Generation that leads highly pampered lives. 

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