Directed by: Ritesh Batra
Starring: Irrfan Khan, Nimrit Kaur, Nawazuddin Siddiqui
All images courtesy of: http://www.glamsham.com
Watching a screening at a film festival always heightens the senses and magnifies both the positive and negative feelings one has towards a film. Whilst The Lunchbox is no exception to this rule, it is evident that The Lunchbox has an appeal that goes beyond the film festival crowds – this is largely down to the deceptive simplicity of the story which masks an intricate tapestry beneath that is a joy to get lost in and leaves plenty of food for thought (as well as gorgeous visuals of actual home cooked food – do not watch on an empty stomach).
Batra wisely pares everything right down to a minimum, allowing the story, performances and somewhat calming visuals of a frenetic Bombay [in that order] do all the work. The film moves at a steady pace that is at once leisurely and efficient and has a charm that works wonders on the audience. Perhaps the greatest strength of The Lunchbox is how complete every nuance feels – if each scene was taken apart, each component would be of the best quality; when it is all put together, it becomes a cinematic treat.
The three central performances are superb – Siddiqui plays the eager Shaikh to perfection with pitch perfect comic timing but with a vulnerable and sympathetic quality that is disarming, especially as Siddiqui makes it look so effortless. Kaur is wonderful as Ila, making her portrayal feel three dimensional and very recognisable. As the nucleus of the story, her turn is both likeable and appealing. Meanwhile, Khan turns in yet another superlative performance; we know he can play the common man (Life In A Metro, Billu, Paan Singh Tomar) but to be able to make his part feel fresh and relevant each time is always satisfying to watch and shows an acting prowess with no contemporary.
I cannot wait to see The Lunchbox again – this is definitely a film which has repeat viewing value and it is wonderful to see that the film has not only been lauded by film festivals across the world but also in the commercial Hindi film sphere too. Sometimes, there are some films one cannot say/write enough about and The Lunchbox is one such film.
P.S: The Lunchbox reminded me of Dhobi Ghat which I saw at the London Film Festival in 2010 and has gone on to become one of my all time favourite films. Without a doubt, The Lunchbox is one of my favourite films of 2013 and I cannot recommend it enough; never mind that it is not India’s entry for the Best Foreign Film at the Oscars – the affection such a film commands will help it find the audience it deserves all on its own.
The Lunchbox has released in India and will be on general release in the UK/US in Spring 2014.