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The Lunchbox

Dabba

Crossed wires and swapped lunches make for a delicious feel-good romance in Ritesh Batra’s Mumbai-set charmer.

The Lunchbox

  • Director-Screenwriter Ritesh Batra
  • Producers Guneet Monga, Anurag Kashyap, Arun Rangachari
  • With Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur, Nawazuddin Siddiqui
  • India-Germany-France-USA 2013
  • in Hindi and English with English subtitles
  • 104 mins
  • UK distribution Artificial Eye Film Company Ltd

India’s hottest indie film of the year is a feel-good love story with global appeal. Award-winning short filmmaker Ritesh Batra’s debut feature is based on the legend of Mumbai’s Lunchbox delivery service, which it is said, never goes wrong. In this ‘what if’ tale a lonely housewife, Ila (Nimrat Kaur), sends a lunchbox through the usual couriers to her disinterested husband, but it ends up at the wrong man’s desk. Sajaan (Irrfan Khan), an accounts clerk on the brink of retirement, receives Ila’s lunch in an identical box to his own and is delightfully surprised at the wonderful tasting food. After a while the solitary Sajaan, realises the mistake and sends a note back to Ila in the lunchbox. She tries to correct it, but the dabba delivery service say there cannot be a mistake. With her real husband not noticing the difference, the two strangers build a gentle rapport through the food deliveries, exploring their hopes of the future. At the same time Sajaan’s gregarious new work replacement (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), struggles to befriend the increasingly distracted Sajan. On his retirement Sajaan goes in search of the cook of his dreams. Batra deftly unfolds a wonderfully observed range of subtle emotions, supported by a lightly paced and often humorous script. India’s greatest character actors Irrfan Khan (Life of Pi) and Nawazuddin Siddiqui (Gangs of Wasseypur), with emerging star Nimrat Kaur, build on the flawed personalities of their characters to deliver unforgettable performances.

Cary Rajinder Sawhney

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