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ApunKaChoice » Article » Movie Review: 'The Lunchbox' is a love story extraordinaire

Movie Review: 'The Lunchbox' is a love story extraordinaire

The Lunchbox: A simple touching story with superb performances
By Nikhil Kumar
Fri, Sep 20, 2013 13:35:45 GMT

Movie Review: 'The Lunchbox' is a love story extraordinaire
The ApunKaChoice movie review of The Lunchbox. Debutant director Ritesh Batra’s film The Lunchbox is a wonderful tale of life’s vacancies, its flickering hopes and longings -- all played out against the bustling, restless city of Mumbai. It’s an extraordinary love story that touches you with its simplicity and unaffected beauty.

Saajan Fernandez (Irrfan Khan) is a quiet, crouched middle-aged accountant crunching numbers and pushing files in a government office with the efficacy of an automaton. A widower, he’s about to retire from his job as well. In this uneventful, placid life of his comes a little spark with a lunchbox from a woman no less lonely than him.

Ila (Nimrat Kaur) goes through the motions of a middle-class housewife with clockwork regularity. Kid packed off to school in the morn, a cold, indifferent hubby seen off to office, the customary chat with a neighbor struck, she has little to look forward to in her dull day until she decides to make way to her unloving hubby’s heart through his stomach.

Enters the multi-tier Lunchbox with all the mouthwatering delicacies lovingly rustled up by Ila for her hubby. But thanks to a little mix-up by Mumbai’s never erring Dabbawalas, the Lunchbox lands up at Saajan’s table and marks the start of a beautiful relationship. Perfunctory pleasantries give way to candid confessions in the letters the two strangers exchange through the lunchbox; and finally they express the desire to meet.

It’s a wonderfully credible yet incredible love story with a room for so many emotions. More than anything, it taps the susceptibility of a lonely heart to find solace, comfort and love in a kindred one. There’s alarming candour in the correspondence between Saajan and Ila, the kind that can flower between two people who’ve a lot to share about themselves but none to share it with until they chance upon one another, knowing they might never meet.

Kudos to writer-director Ritesh Batra for his remarkable restraint in the telling of this lovely tale. His style is void of any frills or vanity. It caters only to the need of the story, propels it forward without any vain show of his craft. Here’s a director to watch out for.

The Lunchbox is also a testimony to Irrfan Khan’s acting talent, his versatility and his awesome ability to internalize the character. He’s been given sparse dialogues, yet there’s not a frame where his body language, his slouched demeanour, his thoughtful gazes don’t speak. Check out the scene when he stares at a happy family having dinner. The expression on his face underscores the character’s loneliness and longing.

Pitted opposite him, Nimrat Kaur comes up with a performance to merit an award. She’s verily the housewife with her own insecurities, vulnerability and a bit of self-pride. Nimrat catches the nuances of her character darn well.

There’s also the presence of Bharati Achrekar in the mere voice of a neighbor who doles out cooking tips. There’s Nawazuddin Siddiqui in full form as the intrusive, mildly-irritating yet affable subordinate Irrfan’s training to take his place after retirement.

Beautiful, fluid, and almost poetic at times, The Lunchbox is a rare cinematic gem to have come from Hindi film industry.

It’s a film that a lover of good cinema shouldn’t miss.

Rating: ****
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