Ila is a bored home-maker with a little daughter and a busy husband. In order to spice up her life, one day, she prepares a sumptuous lunch to her husband and sends through the famous Dabbawala of Mumbai. But fate had other plans. The meticulous and impeccable Dabbawala makes the rarest mistake by delivering the lunchbox to a wrong address – Sajan Fernandes - A Government officer who is gearing up for an early retirement. He is a widower and is an introvert.
Ila finds out that the lunchbox is delivered at the wrong address and feels annoyed of the stranger who sends the lunchbox squeaky clean. Next time, she adds a note stating the same. But his respond catches Ila’s attention and thus the journey of their relationship begins.
Irfan Khan has lives as Sajan. Sajan’s introvert nature, silence, solitude, discipline and the budding love is beautifully expressed. Nimrat Kaur as Ila is outstanding. Even her sighs and staring-at-the-vacuum has been portrayed beautifully. Both the refined actors come across as the back bone of this film.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui as Sheik steals our heart with his simplicity and genuineness. Lilette Dubey as Ila’s mother carries pride and desperation. Her characterization is real and she lingers in our memory for a long time though she is there for a mere two scenes. Bharati Achrekar as Mrs. Deshpade is only heard and never seen. She is Ila’s neighbor and a welcome company to ward off Ila’s monotonous life.
The characters are well-defined and they have delivered a commendable performance. After all, being realistic and live as the character is the toughest.
Another highlight of the movie is Mumbai itself. It plays an integral part in the port. The crowd an people... The detailed process in which the Dabbawala operate... That old cottage in Bandra... That congested apartment...
I also loved that situation where Ila admits that it is easy to express in a note than in person. Maybe that’s why we often fail to express to our loved ones; the fear of seeing their expressions change and the fear of losing them.
Director Ritesh Batra has taken up an unconventional love story devoid of clichés and mindless leg shakes. It is too real that it tends to get boring after sometime. Background music is almost non-existing and we are treated with hustle-bustles of Mumbai city... A mere sneeze or cough of someone nearby and most of the time mere silence! As a result the first half seems to take forever to get over. I agree that our lives are no different and maybe that’s where the movie stands out!
The second half, especially the last 30-40 minutes is the best ever. It has several light moments and most of them are unconventional ones. Also the unexpected moves by the characters make us fall in love with them. As a result, when we leave the theater, we leave with a smile. We feel happy and we end up loving the movie by forgetting the tortoise pace in the first half.
In short, I salute Ritesh Batra for such a heart-warming and heart-pricking tale. It takes love to a different level. These days love is shown as more physical or those clichéd ones where love means only that which ends in marriage. But this story boldly and yet brilliantly ponders into other forms of love; a love where the soul connects and transforms live for forever! Further, in this time of Facebook and Twitter... Whatsapp and mobile phones, this movie comes as brisk of fresh air and sways us off our feet!
Go for The Lunchbox. Don’t judge by the starter. It is sumptuous and wholesome!