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The Lunchbox [DVD]
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Saajan (Irrfan Khan), a Mumbai office worker nearing retirement is delivered the wrong lunch by a dabbawala. Young housewife Ila (Nimrat Kaur) had intended it for her emotionally indifferent husband. To Saajan's surprise, the food is a vast improvement on his usual meal. When he finds a note from Ila enclosed with another meal, he decides to write back. So begins Ritesh Batra's exquisite comedy-drama.
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Their sweet relationship begins due to a mistake in Mumbai’s lunchbox delivery system. Ila, a young housewife, takes up the task of making her husband’s lunch each day and unexpectedly, it’s not getting to him. She spends hours and hours making a wonderful feast but it ends up going to Saajan, a widowed man who works in an office, by accident. She decides to send him a note in the lunchbox one day and they begin communicating back and forth, turning a simple mishap into something beautiful.
And honestly, it’s one of the most sincere films I’ve seen in a long time. It doesn’t feel the need to be in any way grandiose, keeping a quiet and reserved tone throughout (with some comedy sprinkled in at the perfect moments). Irrfan Khan and Nimrat Kaur (who play Saajan and Ila) are absolutely superb, playing off of each other perfectly in every scene.
And what’s even more miraculous is that all of this is coming from a first-time director. It has the style and confidence of a film made by someone with years of experience, and I have to commend Ritesh Batra on his outstanding work. It would be a crime if this doesn’t receive a nomination for ‘best foreign-language film’ at the Oscar’s this year.
Some of the plotting is a little unconvincing, but the impression of Indian life is authentic. Ritesh Batra, the director, was wise to steer clear of Bollywood romance in favour of a slower paced, lower key but moving and thoughtful film, which despite moments of sadness leaves the audience feeling positive.
One day, the food delivered is far superior to the food he normally receives. It turns out that this delicious lunchbox was made by a bored housewife called Ila (Nimrat Kaur), who is trying to win back her disinterested husband. When they both realise whats happened, they strike up an unlikely relationship through letters. Initially venting the frustrations in their lives, the letters become increasingly personal and they decide to meet.
Batra explores this friendship through these letters, unearthing the insecurities in both characters, especially Saajans alienation from life since his wife’s death. They both use these letters to expose their failings, and perhaps to demystify them too. The letters help to engage and disengage themselves from each other, allowing them to make life-changing decisions which they may not have been able to do otherwise.
Saajan also unravels a fondness for the person who will eventually take over his job, Shaikh (Nawazuddin Siddiqui). His pained demeanour hides for the most part his sadness, with Shaikh and Ila aiding his rehabilitation back to some sort of normality. Some great performances are led by Irrfan Khan, giving yet another excellent character study. ’The Lunchbox’ is a delicate, charming drama showing the positive effects food can have on people, and how anyone of any age has something to offer others in those moments of lonliness. In these fast-paced times, these simplest of pleasures still provide the most nourishment.
Couple of comments: this is the feature debut of writer-director Ritesh Batra, and what a debut he gives us! Second, the film addresses many different themes in fine fashion, including of course what constitutes true love but also true happiness. At one point Ila writes to Saajan that she wants to move to Bhutan, "because they don't have Gross Domestic Product, but Gross National Happiness, and people are always happy there". There are several parallel secondary stories in the movie, including Saajan being asked to train a newcomer at work, and also Ila's family, with aunts and uncles, and the responsibilities of taking care of older parents. Third, the film, shot on location in Mumbai, gives a glimpse of what life is like there. I haven't had a chance to visit it yet, but would very much would like to at some point. Fourth, the acting performances, in particular from the 2 leads (the beautiful Nimrat Kaur as Ila and Irfan Khan as Saajan) are outstanding. Last but not least, there is a nice soundtrack, composed by veteran UK film composer Max Richter.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A beautiful film which we will be recommending to all our friends. A great plot and very poignant portrayals from the excellent cast. Very moving and memorable. Read morePublished 11 days ago by Manjit Dhillon
this is very good. A number of my family and friends have since seen it and enjoyed it. Not a bollywood extravaganza. More akin to the art films that win at Cannes or Montreal. Read morePublished 27 days ago by J. Herbert
A subtle and sublime film that plays out the lives of two ordinary people living mundane lives, whose paths cross unexpectedly, when a widower accidentally receives, a tiffin... Read morePublished 1 month ago by J
Well crafted film, with a good meaning, but very slow. Could be 20 minutes shorter. Michael GPublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
What a fantastic treat to watch a film with class. It was a joy to watch. If you don't like subtitles you may not enjoy this film but you will be missing out on a classic love... Read morePublished 2 months ago by J. Samuels