Shonali Bose was born in 1965 and grew up in Calcutta, Bombay and Delhi. She has been an activist since her student days at Miranda House College, Delhi University (BA History Honours) and Columbia University, New York (MA Political Science). Bose was also passionately involved in theater as an actor throughout school and college.
Shonali worked for a year as an organizer at the National Lawyer’s Guild, and directed live community television in Manhattan before embarking on the MFA Directing Program at UCLA's School of Theatre, Film, and Television. Her short narrative films (The Gendarme Is Here and Undocumented) and her feature-length documentary (Lifting the Veil) have screened in festivals and other venues throughout the world. As a student at UCLA she received a number of awards: Ely Award for Best Documentary (’97), Wasserman Award (’96), Jack Sauter Award (’95), Hollywood Radio and Television Society International Broadcasting Award (’95), Motion Picture Association of America Award (’94).
After graduating from UCLA Bose taught directing at the New York Film Academy and hosted and produced a monthly radio show about South Asia on KPFK. In 2003 she was selected to IFP West’s Project Involve.
Amu is her feature film debut and is written, produced and directed by her. Amu released theatrically in India in January 2005 running to packed houses and receiving popular and critical acclaim. It then went on to premier at the Berlin and Toronto Film Festivals amongst many other international festivals. Bose has won 7 national and international awards for Amu including the FIPRESCI Critics Award and the National Award for Best Film and Best Director – India’s highest award given by the President of the country.
Bose was also asked by Penguin India to convert the Amu screenplay into a novel. She did this while she was editing the film. Amu the film and Amu the novel released simultaneously in India on January 7, 2005 making Bose the first Indian to have a simultaneous release of a film and a book. Amu is releasing theatrically in Canada and the United States in January 2006.
Her next movie is Chittagong, directed by her husband Bedabrata Pain which is about the Chittagong armoury raid of 1930. The film stars Manoj Bajpai as Masterda Surya Sen. The movie released in India with critical acclaim in October 2012.
Her son Ishan died in a freak electrical accident in USA. She along with her husband filed a case against the razor company but failed to win the case.