“The Lunchbox” is a delicious slice of Indian life. It's also a touching story about how a simple twist of fate can vastly alter the course of two people's lives. And the impetus is food.
The film is set in present day Mumbai which is known for its incredible lunchbox delivery system. Ila (Nimrat Kaur), in a move to spice up her marriage, prepares glorious lunches for her neglectful husband. But there's a glitch, and they're being delivered to the wrong address. The recipient is Saajan (Irrfan Khan), a lonely, laconic widower about to retire from his boring office job.
One of Saajan's last assignments is to train an annoying, ever-smiling new employee named Shaikh (Nawazuddin Siddiqui). When Ila realizes her husband is not on the receiving end of her cuisine, she begins to leave notes in the lunchbox. Saajan unexpectedly replies, and the two begin a correspondence that evolves into promising fantasies for both parties.
Shaikh catches on as he and Saajan begin to share the meals as well as a newfound friendship. Ila discovers her husband is cheating and shares her heartbreak with Saajan. They plan to meet in person and, perhaps, run off together. But will they?
In his first feature film, director/writer Ritesh Batra has scored a major coup. He manages to gracefully portray the connection between two needy people with dignity and charm. His camera captures the crowded spaces of Mumbai in all of its vividly colored glory. And his attention to detail provides a feast for the senses.
The acting is topnotch from all three of the main characters. Khan's melancholia, Kaur's exotic beauty and Siddiqui's nonstop upbeat humor all blend masterfully into one sumptuous concoction.
“The Lunchbox” is wonderfully devoid of technological devices. People actually communicate by writing letters to one another. It is observed in the film that “sometimes the wrong train will take you to the right station.” Will the wrong lunchbox bring two soul mates together?
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