Planet Bollywood
The Lunchbox
Producer: Guneet Monga, Anurag Kashyap, Arun Rangachari
Director: Ritesh Batra
Starring: Irrfan Khan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Nimrat Kaur, Sanjeev Kapoor
Genre: Drama
Recommended Audience: General
Film Released on: 20 September 2013
Reviewed by: Stutee Ghosh  - Rating: 8.5 / 10
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Public Rating Average: 5.11 / 10 (rated by 410 viewers)
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Friends and countrymen hope my review finds you sailing in the boat of good health and happiness after a near shipwreck situation last week. Well the dark, despicable, pornographic clouds of Grand Masti have made way for some awesome weather at the theatres this week. The sun is finally shining down at us in the form of"The Lunch box". Congratulations! The trailer of Lunch box was like a lighthouse. As Irrfan and Nawazuddin smiled down at us we knew our messiahs were at our rescue and they don’t disappoint us.

The Lunch box is delicately balanced on 2 fundamental points - can you ever fall in love with a person you haven’t met? And can the Harvard - approved world renowned dabba walas of Mumbai deliver a dabba to a wrong person…? We relish at the sheer beauty with which both these implausible situations are handled by debutant director and writer Ritesh Batra. Ila (Nimrit kaur) is a housewife who shares a boiled vegetable like bland relationship with her husband. To add spice to her bovine existence she churns up an amazing meal with the help of neighborhood “aunty” and her secret masalas. Now this dabba doesn’t reach the husband but an unsuspecting and phenomenally pleased Saajan Fernandez (Irrfan Khan). So while the husband chews on aloo Gobi all the delectable, amazing looking dishes are licked clean by Mr. Fernandez. Not to forget tucked away with the rotis are hand written notes that slowly get transformed into fragranced billets doux!

The way to a man’s heart is through the stomach all right but looks like the way to a cine goers heart is through The Lunch Box. As Ila meticulously cuts, fries, sautés and garnishes her dishes we in the audience writhe in hunger. All you want to do is pluck that paneer kofta off the screen and pop it into your mouth. So while the food will leave us quite hungry the sepia toned romance does more than satiate us in terms of all we ever asked for from good cinema!

An ageing local train travelling hero, an natural heroine and lunch box playing cupid. If this doesn’t constitute for an exotic treat I don’t know what does. Set in today’s day and age, the story basks in the afterglow of the good old days of yore. There is a Saajan cassette playing in the background, an Orient ka pankha, old Doordarshan serials, hand written love letters along with the affable neighborhood aunty who lends not just a patient ear but also her secret recipes down. The finely chopped detailing obviously adds to the whole flavor and what to talk of the irreplaceable ingredients in terms of the lead actors.

A circumspect, mildly smiling Irrfan whose face glows with childlike innocence every time he opens the lunch box to Nawazzudin’s infectious “hello sir”. Both these actors just make us fall in love with them almost instantaneously. Marking her debut is Nimrit Kaur playing the female protagonist who is au fait with not just the recipes but the right expressions to garnish her performance. You would remember seeing her in a chocolate ad where she is sitting in a car licking chocolate off her lips. Well now it’s time she stocks up on the truck full of compliments that are bound to come her way. And how can we forget the second floor wali “aunty”. We never get to see her but boy Bharti Achreker is omnipresent be it with her dialogues or the “tokri” she drops down till Ila’s kitchen window. This is a classic love story flavored to perfection.

The subtlety of the romance, mellifluous love, the bitter sweet pangs of loneliness and advancing age to the vacuum of a dry marriage add to that the tangy anticipation of the unknown - it is all there yet it’s quintessentially about two people falling in love with mouthwatering food as accompaniment. And the best of course is the end. Open ended it may seem but as the director himself said in one of his interviews the film keeps playing in our mind long after we leave the hall. It occupies that pristine corner in our heart where we store everything special everything we ever yearn for. You might come up with multitudinous ways that Ila and Saajan’s life could or might turn out but one thing that everyone will agree with is that The Lunch Box is indeed very very special.

So wishing you Bon appétit! The lunch box is a classic and only for those who found Grand Masti a grand embarrassment.

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