The Lunchbox (2013) *MQ*

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The film is the story of a housewife who, in order to add some spice to her married life, packs some delicious lunch and sends it to her husband through the dabbawala. But as luck would have it, the special box is delivered at the wrong address and lands up in the hands of a widower, Saajan. This leads to a series of letters being exchanged by the two, who develop a friendship devoid of any inhibition, in fact which gives them a sense of liberation.

A well-told old-fashioned romance, THE LUNCHBOX gracefully unknots the trials, tribulations, fears and hopes of everyday people sans the glamour that the city of Mumbai has become synonymous with. It also brings back memories of the days when people used to communicate through hand-written letters… and cell phones and emails were unheard of.

Debutant director Ritesh Batra does a magnificent job of encapsulating the interminable restlessness of a city that is constantly on the go. While doing so, he expertly gives voice to the fears that constantly plague the minds of individuals though the exchange of hand-written letters, besides infusing that certain soul, warmth and compassion in the narrative. He also deserves kudos for choosing an unconventional plot, combining romance and food that’s sure to strike a chord with cineastes. In fact, it won’t be erroneous to state that the film’s strength lies in its simplistic plot and an unfussy screenplay, besides the striking performances of its principal actors.

Irrfan illustrates yet again that he’s one of the finest talents to come out of India. Just recall his body of work and you’d agree that he’s a volcano of talent that leaves you completely enthralled with noteworthy performances in film after film. The question is, is there something Irrfan can’t do? Nimrat is the find of the year, truly. To stand up to talents like Irrfan and Nawazuddin in a film and yet retain your individualistic identity is nothing short of an accomplishment. Nawazuddin is absolutely flawless, essaying his part with flair.

Denzil Smith, Bharti Achrekar [never seen but heard in the film], Nakul Vaid and Lillette Dubey add spice to their respective parts.

On the whole, THE LUNCHBOX is a standout film, a sumptuous treat that’s sure to be relished by connoisseurs of cinema. A film with a big heart, it makes you realize that you can unearth contentment and pleasure even if you board the wrong train. Easily one of the finest films to come out of India.

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*** MQ ***
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