The Lunchbox packs a punch

Last Updated 20 September 2013, 18:35 IST

The Lunchbox
Hindi/English (U/A) ****
Director: Ritesh Batra  
Cast: Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Bhharti Achrekar  

What began as research for a documentary on Mumbai’s famed dabbawalas turned out to be a first-class script for debutant Ritesh Batra whose, The Lunchbox has not only been doing rounds of the international film festivals but also won Critics Week Viewers Choice Award at Cannes 2013.

While it may not make the coveted Rs 100 crore, The Lunchbox, backed by a slew of national studios including UTV, Dharma, NFDC, DAR motion pictures and Sikhya Entertainment, definitely packs a punch. Put together by an international technical crew – with Michael Symmonds as cinematographer, John H Lyons as editor and Max Richter as music composer, the film is garnering rave reviews and will rake in a decent box-office collection.

A widower (Irrfan Khan in a powerhouse performance) in a mix-up by the dabbawalas receives a lunchbox. The maker of the lunch – a shy, under-confident and reticent Ila (Nimrat Kaur), discovers that the dabba meant for her husband has landed on another’s table who appreciates her food more and continues to send it thereafter.

So begins their story – which develops through notes sent to each other, and culminates in love without them ever meeting. But The Lunchbox is not just about its protagonists’ loneliness – it’s about different individuals trying to cope with life – whether it is Mrs Deshpande - Ila’s neighbour and spunky agony aunt (Bhharti Achrekar who we only hear, not see) taking care of a comatose husband or Ila’s mother (Lillette Dubey in a cameo) fighting a losing battle with her husband’s cancer or the best of them Aslam Sheikh (Nawazuddin Siddiqui in a most endearing performance) as Fernandes’ trainee, trying to build his world.

The parallels drawn are highlights in a film redolent of dignity, quietude and solace. It matters little that the provider of the solace is not someone you have even met. It brings home the fact that love and respect are mutually inclusive and very much alive in a city known for its crowds and fast-paced life. 

As Mumbai becomes a character in the film, its story quietly weaves its way around your heart. Watch it to discover love.

(Published 20 September 2013, 18:34 IST)

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