Mumbai’s Dabbawallahs are a community of 5000 dabba (lunch box) deliverymen. Harvard University analysed their delivery system and concluded that just one in a million lunch boxes is ever delivered to the wrong address. This film is the story of that one lunch box.
Director: Ritesh Batra. India, 2013. Language: Hindi, English. 104 minutes. Cert: PG
Middle class housewife Ila is trying once again to add some spice to her marriage, this time through her cooking. She desperately hopes that this new recipe will finally arouse some kind of reaction from her neglectful husband. She prepares a special lunchbox to be delivered to him at work, but, unbeknownst to her, it is mistakenly delivered to another office worker, Saajan, a lonely man on the verge of retirement. Curious about the lack of reaction from her husband, Ila puts a little note in the following day’s lunchbox, in the hopes of getting to the bottom of the mystery.
This begins a series of lunchbox notes between Saajan and Ila, and the mere comfort of communicating with a stranger anonymously soon evolves into an unexpected friendship. Gradually, their notes become little confessions about their loneliness, memories, regrets, fears, and even small joys. They each discover a new sense of self and find an anchor to hold on to in the big city of Mumbai that so often crushes hopes and dreams. Still strangers physically, Ila and Saajan become lost in a virtual relationship that could jeopardize both their realities.
‘The Lunchbox is perfectly handled and beautifully acted; a quiet storm of banked emotions.’ – The Guardian
Starring: Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur, Nawazuddin Siddique, Denzil Smith, Bharati Achrekar, NakulVaid, Yashvi Puneet Nagar, Lillete Dubey
Vancouver International Film Festival 2013: Some romances are written in the stars. Others, it would seem, can be chalked up to a misread street map. When a lunchbox painstakingly prepared by Ila (NimratKaur) for her emotionally distant husband is mistakenly delivered to Saajan (the wonderful Irrfan Khan, Life of Pi), the under-appreciated Mumbai housewife and lonely accountant strike up an intimate correspondence. Continuing to use Mumbai’s legion of lunch couriers as their go-betweens, they share increasingly involved letters detailing their inner thoughts and life stories. The tinges of disappointment and regret that punctuate these missives reflect the enticing soulfulness of RiteshBatra’s debut. In turn, there’s exhilaration to be had watching these characters realize that their futures are unwritten. But will they put down their pens and overcome the obstacles keeping them from one another?