A Fabulously Sumptuous Treat
Film: The Lunchbox
Cast: Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur, Nawazuddin Siddique
Directed by: Ritesh Batra
Duration: 1 hr 50 mins
Rating: * * * * *
The protagonist in The Lunchbox wistfully laments “We forget things if we have no one to tell them to” Truer words were never spoken. Directed by Ritesh Batra, the film has several moments, dialogues and scenes where nothing is said but yet it stays with you long after the film is over. It’s time to uncork a bottle of champagne and celebrate one of the best films you’ll ever get to see.
Moreover, it is so heartening to see that films like these are being made and are reaching out to the audiences. Here’s more power to the spirit of independent films and things can only get better if the likes of Karan Johar add their voice to it. Viva!
The film touches upon on love, loneliness, nostalgia, longing and which better city than Mumbai to tell the story. Mr. Fernandes (Irrfan, super brilliant) is an accountant who is on the verge of retirement. He lives all alone, leads a lonely life and his wife is long gone. In another part of the city, we have Ila (Nimrat Kaur, excellent) who is trying to bring the spark back in her marriage. With considerable help from her neighbor who is heard not seen (the distinct voice of Bharti Acherekar), she cooks a dabba (tiffin) for her husband.
The problem is, instead of going to her husband, the tiffin lands on Mr. Fernandes table. Gradually, the two start interacting by sending letters to each other in the tiffin. A trainee accountant (Nawazuddin Siddique) joins his office and the joy those letters bring in his life makes Mr.Fernandes a more friendly man. Even the neighborhood kids start liking, not that he was a person otherwise, he was just more reserved.
There are strange and simple things in life that can make one happy to the extent of changing his or her personality.
Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s Mathilukal (Walls, 1989) was about a jailed man who falls in love with a lady in the next compound but never meets but here Batra uses the city to tell a story that is more than about just two individuals.
In one of his epistles, he tells Ila that he has been offered a vertical burial plot – “I’ve spent my life standing in trains and buses and now I will have to stand even when I’m dead.” he laments. And what could be a better description of the city –“There are too many people and everyone wants what the other has” he says.
Virtually every scene in the film offers more than just what is shown or said. And it is not a serious film all the way, take the dabbawallah scene where he argues with the Ila that even Harvard university came to see them and so did English royalty!
On the technical front, it is exquisitely shot by Michael Simmonds with razor sharp editing by John Lyons. Nimrat Kaur as the housewife has delivered an extra ordinary performance. She has captured all the nuances of her character with precision. You would expect Nawazuddin Siddique to nail it and of course he does. Irrfan Khan however dishes out more than you expect. His performance is in the league of the best you have ever seen on the silver screen.
Do what you please but don’t miss The Lunchbox.