Dawinder Bansal is trying to pinpoint exactly when she realised that she’d been part of a criminal enterprise. Aged eight, she’d taken on some work for her family’s video rental store in Wolverhampton. “And it wasn’t until years later when I was talking about my past with a friend, that I thought: ‘Oh my god, I used to do the piracy, that was me! I was the chief pirate officer!’”

It’s a tale she recounts in her charming short film Jambo Cinema, which tells the story of her parents emigrating to the UK from the Punjab in India (via Kenya) and setting up shop in Wolverhampton – first an electrical store, then adding Bollywood rentals to the mix. In 10 minutes the film manages to cover immigration, Thatcherism, grief and much more. And it’s also honest enough to confess to some of her dad’s more, shall we say, Del Boyish leanings – struggling to turn a profit from his rentals, he asked his two daughters to sit at home and watch the films while recording them on several VHS machines at once.

“It didn’t feel like we were doing anything wrong,” she says now, although she’s still a little uncomfortable about having shared this part of the story, especially as her dad was caught and slapped with a £2,000 fine. “My mum said, ‘Why are you telling this story, nobody needs to know my business,’ but people like the film because it’s relatable. Lots of people used to do piracy no matter what culture they’re from.”

Jambo Cinema is frequently funny. Bansal discusses how a man would come around selling classification stickers (PG, 15 etc) and she would be tasked with looking at the film’s artwork and deciding what it should receive: “I’d think ‘Oh, she looks nice, I’ll give her a PG’ or if someone looked a bit angry they’d get an 18, it was all completely made up.”

But as she says in the film, not everyone’s story has a Bollywood-style happy ending. Bansal’s father died suddenly from a brain tumour when she was just 11 years old, leaving the family in turmoil and the business unable to survive. She wasn’t even aware he was ill and never had the chance to say goodbye. Ultimately, this film is a love letter to the man who gave up so much so his family could have opportunities in the UK.

Bansal, who is in her early 40s, has been making personal films for several years since moving away from immersive theatre production: her recent work has included Asian Women and Cars: Road to Independence, a film about overcoming the patriarchal structures that prevented women of her mother’s generation driving, and We Found Love in the 80s, a tale of diverse relationships made in collaboration with The Human League and Heaven 17 founder Martyn Ware.

The idea for Jambo Cinema came a few years ago when, feeling down on father’s day, Bansal opened up one of her dad’s old briefcases. Inside she found old ledgers, invoices, an Indian Workers’ Association card. She decided to look in her garage, where everything from the shop had been stored since its closure: “It was magical for me, to see all the different films again, with the calligraphy and artwork,” she says.

She realised there was a story there. At first she wrote a talk, then she developed the idea into an installation at Wolverhampton Art Gallery and Nottingham’s New Art Exchange, in which she recreated both the shop and her childhood living room from scratch. “It was very emotional work,” she says, “because those two spaces talk about that very moment where life was kind of OK for us and then my father passed away.”

She hadn’t anticipated quite how popular the installation would be – “people from different cultures or backgrounds saying: ‘This could be my nan’s house’” – or how emotional viewers would find it. Her siblings struggled even to be there among the old memories, while she often found herself consoling strangers: “I remember two women crying because their father had also died and their small business went with it. It was actually nice to share it with somebody else.”

Making these connections is what Bansal’s work is all about. And recently she’s noticed parallels between her own work and her father’s, especially the fact that she left a job to start her own business. It’s not been plain sailing – Jambo Cinema was self-funded and made on a budget of £750. But thanks to the reaction, she now has plans to turn it into a full-length feature film and book, expanding on the many characters who would frequent the shop and the painful demise of the business.

It seems clear that making Jambo Cinema has helped Bansal deal with her grief all these years later. “I don’t know how happy my dad would be with me talking about him being fined for piracy!” she laughs. “But it has been like therapy, really. Sometimes I would break down and cry and other times I would smile because there are things I remembered that were great. It has helped me heal.”