Director: Ritesh Batra
Stars: Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and others
The Lunchbox is Ritesh Batra’s first directorial venture and it is a frontline masterpiece of a film. It carefully dissects and presents us with deep rooted emotions that float on shallow waters of the crippled etiquette of a conventional society. Unexpressed sulking emotions that die within a person!
The film takes place in the city of Mumbai, a semi-dystopian world busy with monotone. Mumbai is also home to a renowned lunchbox delivery system engulfs the heart of the plot. Ila (played by Nimrat Kaur) is a young house wife chained to routine in an unhappy marriage. Her husband fails to satisfy her emotional needs and being a housewife, she just slacks in the dullness of homemaking. She decides to change this by cooking a special delight for her husband. She spends tireless hours to prepare the dishes with great intricacy. She carefully packs in lunchbox and leaves it to the “dabbawalas” (the delivery staff) having subscribed to their lunchbox delivery system. However, the lunchbox ends up with Saajan Fernandez, a middle-aged accountant and widower (played by Irrfan Khan). With this accidental delivery starts a relationship between Ila and Fernandez through a series of hand written notes. They share their experiences and miseries and bond deeply. Fernandez is also acquainted in real life with Shaikh (played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui) in his office. Shaikh is an incompetent young man and an orphan who is new to the firm. Fernandez is commissioned to train him under his experience, but Shaikh’s incompetency and inexperience bothers Fernandez. He eventually grows out of Shaikh’s shortcomings and bonds with him. Fernandez finds meaning in life by mending Ila’s loneliness through his hand written notes and by mentally adopting Shaikh as a family man.
Ritesh Batra crafted the Lunchbox with magnificent direction and intelligent dialogue. Saajan Fernandez is one of Irrfan Khan’s best characters and one of his best performances till date. Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Nimrat Kaur treat their modest and humble characters with utmost dedication and craftsmanship. Being brilliant from all fronts, the Lunchbox is one of the best Indian feature films ever made.
The Lunchbox is a genius of a film because it doesn’t portray the tragedy of life in terms of bloody murders or grizzly assaults or poverty. It personifies tragedy in its most brutal form, “normalcy”. It portrays exactly the horror of normalcy. It shows us the horrifying anxiety of feeling lonely in a crowded room or the horrifying despair of being neglected by a person whilst sleeping with them or the bewildering detachment from a monotonous life. It shows us the absurdity of existence and the significance of subtle things. It perfectly projects life as a bitter-sweet mixture and thus it is a great observation of life that is human and relatable. Indeed, the wrong train may take us to the right destination sometimes.