Cast: Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and others
Language (s): Hindi partly English
Year of Release: 2013
Direction: Ritesh Batra
Duration: 1 Hour 50 Minutes (110 Minutes)
Nikhil’s Rating: ****
THE LUNCHBOX is not the kind of film that is easy to translate from paper to screen. But, we will come to that later. In this movie, we are treated to the life of two protagonists one of which is Illa, (Nimrat Kaur) a simple housewife with a heart of gold. Unfortunately, her love- life is going through a rough patch. Illa however, tries her best to keep her husband happy by preparing tasty dishes, with various tips from Mrs. Despande (Bharati Achrekar), her neighbor who is heard by the audience but never seen. Mrs. Deshpande is Illa’s friend, philosopher and guide.
In her life one day, a tiffin box (Dabba) is delivered to a wrong address. What is meant for her husband reaches Saajan Fernandes; a widower who usually gets his food from a restaurant in the city. Saajan works as an accountant in a firm, and is close to his retirement phase. Nawazuddin Siddiqui (Shaikh) is a replacement for his position.
The mistake is realized when her husband reaches home that day. Thereon the tiffin continues to be delivered to Saajan Fernandes. A conversation through notes ensues, and evolves into a relationship between Illa and Saajan Fernandes. Can two people who have never met fall in love? Will they ever meet?
As you can see, the story is very simple. But to convert it into a feature film requires wild imagination. Being his first feature presentation, Ritesh Batra has skillfully combined things that are out- of- the box about various instances in life, and captured them through dialogue and moments. He uses letters as a motif to communicate his thoughts in this unconventional love story. Writing a screenplay of such kind requires deep thought and impeccable intelligence. Coming to the humor, it is very subtle; but at the same time meaningful. The Cinematography by Michael Simmonds is very good and captures the goings on in Mumbai perfectly. In spite of the slow pacing, this movie is never boring. In other words, the film editing by John F. Lyons is superb.
Filmmaking is never an easy process. Acting in a film of this style, especially when the story is very simple requires seasoned actors. Irrfan Khan, as Saajan Fernandes, has played a very tough role with great responsibility. Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s role as Shaikh is also very difficult. But he too has got into the skin of his role and makes the character endearing. Nimrat Kaur as Illa has made her character believable.
All said and done, THE LUNCHBOX, is a very meaningful film handled beautifully. It deserves a watch.