Starring: Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur, Nawazuddin Siddiqui
Directed by Ritesh Batra
It’s easy to understand the universal appeal of The Lunchbox. Most big, busy cities like Mumbai have a way of isolating people, of making them feel terribly lonely in a crowd. The Lunchbox is a seemingly simple but profoundly felt story about such lonesome, drifting souls who find a rare bonding and anchor in each other. It is a film that makes you smile through its sadness.
There is Ila (Nimrat), trying out new recipes to woo her indifferent husband, with a little help from the neighbour aunty who we hear, but never see (the voice: Bharti Achrekar). Then there is the eccentric, unsmiling widower Saajan (Irrfan), unpopular amongst children of his neighbourhood, about to retire from a job of many years and handing over charge to a younger and more cheerful Nawazuddin. A dabba brings Ila and Saajan together. The lunchbox with the green cover, which should have gone to Ila’s husband, gets delivered by mistake to Saajan one day. And then day after day.
The banality of his life is beautifully broken by the flavours and smells of food cooked with love. Ila finds connection and communication with a stranger through the letters she exchanges with him in the folds of the rotis. Slowly, they begin opening up in the comfort of each other. She confesses how there is nothing much to her life, talks about the brother’s suicide, her ailing father, and of some day escaping to Bhutan—topper in the gross national happiness index. He recollects his wife’s Sunday ritual of watching the TV serial Ye Jo Hai Zindagi and wonders what if he also went to Bhutan with Ila. Letters reveal all, help them unburden. Slowly, they begin to smile.
Batra brings out the humdrum of his characters’ lives with little deft touches. Like the fans. Their whirring drone in Saajan’s office or in the neighbour aunty’s house, keeping her comatose husband alive. On the other hand, he captures the dabba culture of Mumbai with an almost documentary-like realism.
Beyond the Saajan-Ila interaction there are other relationships of significance, especially Saajan’s growing bonding with the orphan Nawaaz or Ila’s longstanding one with the “aunty”. Pitch perfect acting brings the characters alive. Irrfan lets his eyes talk and literally breaks your heart when he writes to Ila about his old age and thanking her for giving space to him in her young life. Nimrat can emote all manner of shades with just a twitch of the face, like when she literally smells out deception from her husband’s shirt. And Nawaaz is delightfully irritating, especially while chopping veggies in the local train.
As the film says, sometimes the wrong train can take you to the right destination. Will the wrongly delivered letter eventually take Ila and Saajan to Bhutan, literally and metaphorically? And together at that? Watch and find out.
Would have liked a happy ending, with both making the long trek to Bhutan together. If George Soros can get married at 83, age is just a number.
I HAVE SEEN THIS BEAUTIFUL MOVIE,GREAT PERFORMANCE AND WONDERFUL DIRECTION,WE INDIANS DESERVES SUCH GOOD MOVIES?WE DESERVES OUR 100 CRORE MOVIES,PEOPLE DONT WANT SEEN TRUTH,THEY ONLY WANT TO SEEN AND HEAR LIES,WE DESERVED CHENNAI EXPRESS,KABHI KUSHIETC
I very much liked the movie .Paisa vasool.
>>>> "Irrfan lets his eyes talk and literally breaks your heart "
>> @Prashi - "There is the word "literally" and then there is "figuratively". They don't mean the same thing. The movie can't literally break your heart, it can only do that figuratively."
Prashi you are spot on.
"Will the wrongly delivered letter eventually take Ila and Saajan to Bhutan, literally and metaphorically?" , "like when she literally smells out deception"
The writer seems to have a 'literary" bent of mind.
There is the word "literally" and then there is "figuratively". They don't mean the same thing. The movie can't literally break your heart, it can only do that figuratively. Check and find out!
We at Outlookindia.com welcome feedback and your comments, including scathing criticism
1. Scathing, passionate, even angry critiques are welcome, but please do not indulge in abuse and invective. Our Primary concern is to keep the debate civil. We urge our users to try and express their disagreements without being disagreeable. Personal attacks are not welcome. No ad hominem please.
2. Please do not post the same message again and again in the same or different threads
3. Please keep your responses confined to the subject matter of the article you are responding to. Please note that our comments section is not a general free-for-all but for feedback to articles/blogs posted on the site
4. Our endeavour is to keep these forums unmoderated and unexpurgated. But if any of the above three conditions are violated, we reserve the right to delete any comment that we deem objectionable and also to withdraw posting privileges from the abuser. Please also note that hate-speech is punishable by law and in extreme circumstances, we may be forced to take legal action by tracing the IP addresses of the poster.
5. If someone is being abusive or personal, or generally being a troll or a flame-baiter, please do not descend to their level. The best response to such posters is to ignore them and send us a message at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT
6. Please do not copy and paste copyrighted material. If you do think that an article elsewhere has relevance to the point you wish to make, please only quote what is considered fair-use and provide a link to the article under question.
7. There is no particular outlookindia.com line on any subject. The views expressed in our opinion section are those of the author concerned and not that of all of outlookindia.com or all its authors.
8. Please also note that you are solely responsible for the comments posted by you on the site. The comments could be deleted or edited entirely at our discretion if we find them objectionable. However, the mere fact of their existence on our site does not mean that we necessarily approve of their contents. In short, the onus of responsibility for the comments remains solely with the authors thereof. Outlookindia.com or any of its group publications, may, however, retains the right to publish any of these comments, with or without editing, in any medium whatsoever. It is therefore in your own interest to be careful before posting.
9.Outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for how any search engine -- such as Google, Bing etc -- caches or displays these comments. Please note that you are solely responsible for posting these comments and it is a privilege being granted to our registered users which can be withdrawn in case of abuse. To reiterate:
a. Comments once posted can only be deleted at the discretion of outlookindia.com
b. The comments reflect the views of the authors and not of outlookindia.com
c. outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for the way search engines cache or display these comments
d. Please therefore take due caution before you post any comments as your words could potentially be used against you
10. We have an online thread for our comments policy:
You are welcome to post your suggestions here or in case you have a specific issue, to directly email us at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT