‘Beauty Boxed’ Exposes The Toll Of Child Marriages And Urges Change

Child marriage remains a formidable challenge in Pakistan especially in rural and marginalized communities. According to UNICEF, around 18% of the girls in Pakistan are married before the age of 18. ‘Beauty Boxed’, written and directed by Muhammad Arsalan Khan, portrays a realistic insight of a young girl ‘Noor’ who gets exploited in a troubled marriage. The short film also addresses a large issue at the core of domestic violence,  patriarchy and misogyny.

‘Beauty Boxed’: The Story

Amongst the hustle and bustle of the railway station, we are introduced to station master Aswad (Rashid Farooqi). His young wife Noor (Areeba Suleman) is busy doing the household chores. Being an aspiring makeup artist she aims big and hopes to achieve her dreams. Despite her desire to work, she faces domestic abuse at the hands of Aswad. Tragically, he also subjects Noor to sexual abuse.

Despite the challenges faced, Noor secretly pursues her job and excels in her craft. Once, her colleague at work notices her bruised face and extends an invitation to collaborate on a new project, Aswad gets to know the reality and howls at her.  The situation reaches a critical point when Noor finally stands up to him and confronts his abusive behavior. Things get worse when Aswad abuses her mother, prompting Noor to take action to defend her.

The Merits / De-Merits

As a writer, Arsalan could have gone an extra mile to make the script crisper. Had the dialogues been hard-hitting, the impact in crucial scenes would have been different altogether. But he’s decent as the director. To give credit where it’s due, he makes a sincere effort to depict the plight of such girls. He doesn’t add unnecessary drama or violence for the heck of it. Whatever we see has a reason and this gives us a sense of his seriousness of doing justice to the story. Some of the scenes stand out like, Noor hiding her bruises with makeup is heart-wrenching, the domestic violence sequences are well shot and don’t make us cringe.

The Performances

Rashid Farooqi doesn’t give any reason to complain. With all his experience he delivers a nuanced performance. Areeba Suleman acts mostly with her eyes and facial expressions and shines. However, she needs to have more clarity and finesse in her dialogue delivery.

Award & Recognition  

For the unversed ‘Beauty Boxed’ already is a winner at the Indus Valley School Film Festival (2023) and Gandhara Independent Film Festival (Audience Choice Award). The short film is officially selected at the DC South Asian Film Festival (2023), Egyptian American Film Festival (2023), HECare Film Festival (Human -Environment Care Film Festival HECFF) 2024 and The Film Tuition International Festival (2024).

Is ‘Beauty Boxed’ Worth Watching?

Leaving a lasting impression ‘Beauty Boxed’ sheds light on the devastating impact of child marriages. Similar to the boiling of milk in the kitchen, Arsalan constructs a trajectory for Noor that gradually boils and erupts at the climax. The short film sends out an important message of prioritizing the rights and well-being of girls in order to fulfill their dreams.

You can watch “Beauty Boxed” here on YouTube:

Written by Ozair Majeed


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