Ritesh Batra’s The Lunchbox (2013) Movie Review


Cast: Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur and Nawazuddin Siddiqui.

Director: Ritesh Batra
Censor Certificate: U
Run-time: 109 Minutes

Director Ritesh Batra after making award winning short films like The Morning Ritual, Café Regular, Cairo, Gareeb Nawaz ki Taxi makes his most anticipated debut with The Lunchbox (Dabba) that won Critic Week Viewer’s Choice award in Cannes Film Festival, Audience Choice Award at World Cinema Festival in Amsterdam and movie won Ritesh Batra Best Director award at Odessa International Film Festival. The movie also been glorified for its singularity at London and Toronto International Film Festivals. The Lunchbox is releasing worldwide tomorrow and I have been to a special screening of the movie that was held at PVR Cinemas, Hyderabad. Here’s my take on the movie.

The Lunchbox is an old fashioned innocent love story revolves around a middle class housewife Ila (Nimrat Kaur) who is trying to add some spice to her marriage life and Saajan Fernandes (Irrfan Khan) is a widowed government employee who is going to retire after his 35 years of service. Movie starts when a rare mistake done by Mumbai “Dabbawalas” which bring Ila and Saajan together. Saajan responds by sending a note of appreciation and slowly these notes become a mode of communication between two strangers. How love blooms between the pair and what destiny has in reserve for this relationship forms the rest of the story line.

Nimrat Kaur trained for six months prior to the shooting for the character Ila.

The Lunchbox belongs to three actors – Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur and Nawazuddin Siddiqui – there are many number of occasions when the story and the situations threaten to bring them down, and they never for a moment let that happen. My favourite among the three, would definitely have to be Irrfan Khan, who is remarkably brilliant as Saajan Fernandes. Almost everything about his act be it the faultless body language or the flawless dubbing is praiseworthy. Nimrat Kaur as Ila is equally convincing as a housewife who caught in a dilemma at an important phase in her life. Nawazuddin Siddiqui has shortest of the three roles perhaps makes a decent impression, mainly on account of a voice that gel well with the character he plays.

When director Ritesh was researching for a documentary about the Mumbai Dabbawalas. Thats when Ritesh found out deep things regarding people Dabbawalas pick up lunch boxes from like this housewife cooks something new every day, this box smells good.. etc. That’s how director Ritesh Batra got interested in people who were cooking and eating lunch boxes. Mumbai efficient lunch box delivery system  Six Sigma certified Dabbawalas (who make less than one mistake in every six million deliveries) do a mistaken delivery in this movie and director never tries to justify the point that Lunchbox which was supposed to deliver to Ila’s husband has been delivered to other person in the same office/ floor by peon. Movie starts in Monsoon and there is no clarity in the time frame strangers took on before they realized the love between them. Even the climax is not so convincing. Ritesh did well in the first half by establishing the characters. His direction is neat. But he did not keep the tempo once the story fell in to the main line. Screenplay of this film is slow. The director could not get his grip of the audiences in the second half. The dialogues are huge let-down in The Lunchbox, there are instances when you listen to a line in it and swig escape your pharynx. Like the one when Ila says she just found the recipe written by her grand maa, hope you like it, through which love sleeps unnoticed. Max Richter background score is okay. An Indian music director would have added more feel to this charming film. Michael Simmonds cinematography is good.

All the Dabbawalas who helped Ritesh in his Dabbawala research in 2007 are included in the film.

The Lunchbox is worth your time, for all the small charms and grins it has in stock. I loved this film for what it is, but I wish I could have loved it even more.

Theatrical Trailer:

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