A mistaken delivery in Mumbai's famously efficient lunchbox delivery system connects a young housewife to an older man in the dusk of his life as they build a fantasy world together through notes in the lunchbox.
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The film, set in Mumbai, revolves around a mistaken delivery by the Dabbawalas (lunchbox service) of Mumbai, which leads to a relationship between Saajan, a lonely widower close to retirement, and Ila, an unhappy housewife, as they start exchanging notes through the daily lunchbox.Written by
Aged 46 at the time of the movie's release, Irrfan Khan (Saajan) was only seven years older than Nawazuddin Siddiqui, whose character (Shaikh) is the eager young office junior Saajan is training to replace him. See more »
When Saajan works in the canteen on behalf of Shaikh he has a green marker in his hand, but when the camera changes it turns into red. In the same scene Saajan holds a red marker but when the camera changes it turns into a pen. See more »
When my wife died, she got a horizontal burial cot... I tried to buy a burial cot for myself the other day, and what they offered me was a vertical one... I've spent my whole life standing in trains and buses... now I'll even have to stand when I'm dead!
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Mixes food and romance in a very appealing combination
An old saying repeated in Ritesh Batra's charming The Lunchbox is that sometimes the wrong train will bring you to the right station. In this case, however, the train turns out to be a dabba (lunchbox), wrongly delivered by a dabbawala to a middle-aged government claims adjuster on the brink of retirement. It works out well even though, in reality, with about 5,000 dabbawalas in the city of Mumbai who deliver more than 130,000 lunch boxes each day, they rarely make a mistake. Written by Stefan Tomke in the mode of You Got Mail, Ila (Nimrat Kaur), a young housewife dutifully prepares a lunch for her emotionally distant husband every day and has it sent to him via the courier.
On the advice of her upstairs Auntie, Mrs. Deshpande (Bharati Achreka), Ila tries to have her husband notice her by putting more spice in the food. When it is wrongly delivered to Saajan (Irrfan Khan, Life of Pi), however, a series of unintended consequences unfold. What begins with a short note from Sajaan to Ila that "the food was salty today" develops into a series of exchanges passed back and forth in the lunchbox everyday in which the two open up to each other about their lives, memories, and their hopes and dreams for the future. A subplot involving Aslam Shaikh (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), an aggressively upbeat successor to Sajaan, adds a touch of humor to the proceedings but also serves to draw a contrast between himself and the grumpy Saajan.
Both Aslam and Sajaan become more endearing, however, as the film progresses. While the ending may thwart expectations if you are used to having all the pieces neatly fit together, The Lunchbox mixes food and romance in a very appealing combination, removing any doubt that Ila and Sajaan have moved to a new level. Impeccably acted and beautifully realized, the film provides an honest appreciation of what it is like to live in Mumbai without exploiting its poverty for Western audiences. Though the wrong train may indeed bring you to the right station, ultimately there is no wrong train and no right station. As The Lunchbox demonstrates, there is just the train and the journey, and it's all perfect.
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