Tuesday , March 21 2023

The Lunchbox: Wrong train leading to the right destination!

Published Date: December 12, 2013

The Dabbawallas of Mumbai have mesmerised one and all with their efficacy & perfection.  The odds of a wrong delivery are one in a six million! No wonder, we’ve all bowed before these phenomenal Dabbawallas in respect!

Luckily for us, that one odd delivery out of six million takes us onto a journey of love that every cine-goer is cherishing.

The Lunchbox is an exquisitely crafted attempt by debutant director Ritesh Batra to capture an essence and flavour of serendipity in the maxim city through a simple story of two desolate couple.

Mr Saajan Fernandez, played by Irrfan Khan with superb placidity, is a widower about to retire from his lonely job of a Sarkari accountant. In fact, his character is the typical government employee who treasures silence and speaks only when required. To counter the seriousness and melancholy of the accountant, Sheikh (Nawazuddin), timely pitches in to compliment Saajan’s forlorn character. Sheikh, a Saudi returned orphan is into a habit of speaking a word too many irritating his new boss. But to the viewers, his habit seems endearing, which enlivens the screen and is a relief in terms of pace, dialogues & humour.

The cog in the wheel of The Lunchbox is Nimrat Kaur, who as a duty-bound housewife Ila, performs her role to perfection. She cooks for love, with a belief that the road to heart passes through stomach. Under the able guidance of an invisible aunty, Ila meticulously prepares the food hoping to impress and seduce her husband. The Lunchbox, fortunately for us, lands in the wrong train and eventually to the right destination – Saajan!

Interestingly, this wrong delivery of a Lunchbox ensues a letter writing competition between Ila and Saajan. The exchange of letters is less conversational and more confessional, leading to a strange bonding between the couple who have had never been face to face.

Irrfan Khan, undoubtedly,  is in the prime of his form. Some scenes reminded me of the Life of Pi where his strong narration was an integral part. Here, I personally liked the scene where Irrfan narrates how and why he bought a painting made by a street-side painter, who captured the same backdrop over and over again. In one such painting Irrfan sees himself being captured on a canvas & couldn’t stop buying it.

Irrfan & Nimrat have enacted their melancholy and loneliness with class and deftness. In one such scene, Saajan, a catholic says that a vertical burial plot has been offered to him. He says, “I’ve spent my life standing in trains and buses. Now, I’ll have to keep standing even after I die.”

The forte of the movie is a fine, nuanced performance by each and every character.

Its one of those open-ended films where the climax is left up to the individual audience to reflect and decide.

I would rate The Lunchbox 4 out of 5!

Go. Treat yourself to the sumptuous Lunchbox!