Direction: Ritesh Batra.
Writers: Ritesh Batra (screenplay), Vasan Bala (hindi dialogue consultant)
Cast: Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur, Nawazuddin Siddiqui.
Genre: Drama, Romance.
Streaming on Netflix.
The Romans especially Julius Caesar had discovered means to connect with their troops to provide military aid. Before the telegraph, stockbrokers and financiers used this method to transmit stock market quotations between London and Paris. Even the famous newspaper giants, Reuters started using it as a service, before the gap in telegraph links were closed. But the most important area it came across, was to set a virtual bridge that led to a promise.
Ritesh Batra’s first feature, “The Lunchbox” told the story of loneliness. As a city like Mumbai gets noisier, it tends to forget the true essence of human nature. Offices become our daily thing. Self-interests don’t have a life moving forward. But quiet lives did meet the disconnected. Saajan Fernandes (Irrfan Khan), a month away from retirement displays his abrasive nature when tasked with training his replacement, Shaikh ( Nawazuddin Siddiqui ). But this day became a turning point in his life. His noon meals were delivered by a local tiffin service, but instead received a box prepared by Ila ( Nimrat Kaur ), a homemaker and mother. This happened tomorrow and the next day. Complementing the food through a letter in the lunchbox led to sharing a piece of one’s life.
This film uses a meaningful method to communicate to the audience. It’s not the lunchbox, but the city itself. It personifies through a mix of human chatters and uninterrupted vehicles. The storytellers of this city are the Dabbawalas ( People behind Lunchbox delivery and return system ) itself. Being a strong admirer of Irrfan Khan ( 1967- 2020 ), I can tell you confidently that this is his best film. Strong performances from Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Nimrat Kaur helped in refining the script even more. Hindi films are known for the way it can experiment with our daily lives. Bringing an ensemble of producers to make this film shows us the quality it offers in terms of the technical efforts created. The ending of the film is always a question that appears in my mind even today. After all, it is a film that converts the good deeds done into a gift for the future works coming from Bollywood.
Verdict: 7/7 stars.
The three main characters in the film – Saajan (Irrfan Khan), Shaikh (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) and Ila (Nimrat Kaur) – all belong to different religions. Saajan is a Christian, Sheikh a Muslim, and Ila is a Hindu. This signifies the unity in diversity existing in the Mumbai City.
In order to bring authenticity to the role and for knowing each other well enough to share the love and resentment among the couple as per the story in the film, Nimrat Kaur (Ila) and her onscreen husband Nakul Vaid (Rajeev) stayed at the same house as shown in the movie for weeks and spent days extensively rehearsing their part and adjusting to it prior to the other cast members even getting finalized.