It has not been long since we attended the preview of The Lunchbox, but the images of the haze and spices of an average Indian kitchen stay with you. Directed by Ritesh Batra and produced by Guneet Monga, Anurag Kashyap and Arun Rangachari, the film follows the slice-of-life narrative so typical of our Indian scenario.
Most Bollywood films take the glossier (and fantasy-world) route of story-telling, ignoring the little odds, ends and cogs of everyday life which make for more meaningful viewing. The Lunchbox is an endeavour to break out of that rut with some breakthrough performances from Nimrat Kaur, Irrfan Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui.
It is the story of a lonely housewife whose lunchbox to her husband (Nakul Vaid) gets switched with accountant Saajan Fernandes's (Irrfan Khan). The resolved misunderstanding leads to an exchange of notes between two strangers, who begin to confide their daily routine in each other. Nawazuddin plays the jolly Aslam Sheikh, Saajan's colleague who grows on him (and us) as time passes by.
The story is simple and the climax an abrupt, albeit open-ended conclusion, one that befits the plot. Batra takes you from the grimy locales of Mumbai, to the locals that criss-cross amidst tracks, the suffocation of packed train compartments, brief shots of the close-knit dabbawallahs and the simplicity of the average middle-class home. But above all, it depicts the sense of loneliness in the city of dreams, when those very dreams shatter.
Production designer Shruti Gupte should take a bow for the realistic set-up. From the yellowing files in a shuffling office to the indolence of a humble home, she has captured every nuance perfectly.
Director Ritesh Batra should take a bow for penning and making such a novel and uncomplicated story. One only hopes that it does not get submerged in the deluge of commercial tripe that scarcely justifies its box office collections. Watch this film to pause and appreciate the smaller moments in life. Human interaction, connection and bonding. It's something we seem to have long-forgotten, especially in harried metropolises.
Films of India gives The Lunchbox 3 stars. Do not miss out on the film which releases on 20th September, 2013. Experience the story. Breathe in the characters and the delectable dabbe ka khaana!