Director Ritesh Batra’s debut Hindi feature vehicle - ‘The Lunchbox’ – runs on the theme that reads “Kabhi kabhi galat train bhi sahi jagah pahuncha deti hai” (Sometimes even a wrong train can get you to the right destination).
‘The Lunchbox’ is a journey of Saajan Fernandes (Irrfan Khan) and Ila (Nimrat Kaur) who are living a spice-less existence. Saajan is a widowed government employee on the verge of retirement after serving his company faithfully for 35 years. Ila, on the other hand, is a duty-bound young housewife, who lives to serve her husband Rajeev and nurse her daughter Yashvi. To rev-up her marriage, Illa decides to cook a delish meal for her indifferent (and infidel) hubby and get it delivered by the impeccable hands of dabbawallahs. As fate would have it, the dabba lands up at Saajan’s desk leading to a series of written notes being passed on from one end to another. Ila gets an anchor that was missing in her life and love brings a breath of fresh air in the autumn of Saajan’s life. What pulls the strings of the audience’s heart the most is the way ‘love’ cooks up between the pair sans any form of new age communication. To add zing to this love story, there is Aslam Sheikh (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), who has been hired as Saajan’s post retirement replacement. Nawazuddin as Aslam is unintentionally funny and he has got his comic timing right. His interesting conversations with Saajan make the film more engaging and original. Ditto for Bharati Achrekar (Mrs Deshpande) who plays Ila’s neighbour in the film. It is her voice that can be heard from upstairs whenever Ila engages in conversation with her.
What makes ‘The Lunchbox’ a rare fare is the fact it follows the uncharted path, never goes into the predictable zones and of course, steers clear of the clichés such as masala song sequences.
Ritesh Batra’s has given a sensible direction to the film and needless to say, when there are honed actors like Irrfan Khan and Nawazudddin Siddiqui, performances are bound to be one of the other unique aspects of the film. Nimrat Kaur looks real on the frames as a middle-class housewife seeking someone to share her feelings with.
The ending of the film has been left to the viewers` imagination or perhaps there is a a sequel in making.
Clearly, ‘The Lunchbox’ is a wholesome affair – one that shows how it feels when mundane seems magic and attempts to explore the concept of age bar in love.