The Lunchbox (Ritesh Batra, 2013) is a simple story woven together with emotionally powerful and memorable scenes. Set in the hustle-bustle of Mumbai, the story begins with a ‘lucky’ mistake which first brings the 2 protagonists together and unfolds around the blossoming friendship between this unlikely couple.
Sajan Fernandes, an Accountant, is approaching the ‘Golden’ years of his life and is looking forward to retirement and a quiet life in Nasik. A widower, a loner, he is shown to be most comfortable in the company of his work-desk and files. Ila is a dutiful housewife whose life centers around her family and household chores. Awaiting an approving nod, an understanding smile from her husband, which is not forthcoming; she is trying hard to salvage a marriage which is slowly losing steam. A one-in-a-million mistake by the dabbawallahs, lands the dabba, lovingly prepared by Ila for her husband; on Sajan’s desk one fateful afternoon. This sparks a steady stream of letters between the two. Soon their deepest desires, darkest secrets, biggest fears are being ferried to the other, in the form of letters travelling in the confines of the dabba.
Director Ritesh Batra’s storytelling tugs at your heartstrings. The editing is crisp and shuttles between the lives of Fernandes and Ila very smoothly. The plot unfolds at an even pace throughout, allowing you to empathize with the protagonists and soak-in their emotions. The biggest strength of this movie is its performances. Irrfan Khan’s effortless portrayal of Fernandes, adds another feather to his cap. Nimrat Kaur plays Ila to perfection. Nawazuddin Sidddiqui gives a memorable performance as Shaikh, Fernandez’s office assistance. The scenes involving him, give the movie some light moments. Bharati Achrekar, as the kind-hearted Mrs. Deshpande, the tenant in the flat above Ila’s and Lilette Dubey as Ila’s mother complement the main cast with strong performances. This movie is near-perfect. The emotions evoked by this movie, the dialogues, the scenes are bound to remain in memory long after you have left the cinema hall.
Written by Vidya Bhandarkar 🙂
Lunchbox was certainly one of the best films of 2013. Such a welcome change in Bollywood.