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The Lunchbox (2013)

Dabba (original title)
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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.

Director:

Ritesh Batra

Writers:

Ritesh Batra (screenplay), Vasan Bala (hindi dialogue consultant)
Top Rated Indian Movies #120 | Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 28 wins & 32 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Irrfan Khan ... Saajan Fernandes
Nimrat Kaur ... Ila
Nawazuddin Siddiqui ... Shaikh
Lillete Dubey ... Ila's Mother
Nakul Vaid Nakul Vaid ... Rajeev
Bharti Achrekar ... Auntie
Yashvi Puneet Nagar Yashvi Puneet Nagar ... Yashvi
Denzil Smith ... Mr. Shroff
Shruti Bapna ... Mehrunnisa
Nasirr Khan Nasirr Khan ... Ila's Father (as Nasir Khan)
Lokesh Raj Lokesh Raj ... Duke's Owner
Sadashiv Kondaji Pokarkar Sadashiv Kondaji Pokarkar ... Dabbawallah at Ila's House
Aarti Rathod Aarti Rathod ... Saajan's Neighbor
Krishna Bai Krishna Bai ... Toothless Woman
Raj Rishi More Raj Rishi More ... Ila's Brother
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Storyline

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 Iceman

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

India's lunchbox delivery system transports thousands of meals every day from kitchens to offices. See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for thematic material and smoking | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Cine Mosaic | Official Site | See more »

Country:

India | France | Germany | USA | Canada

Language:

Hindi | English

Release Date:

20 September 2013 (India) See more »

Also Known As:

The Lunchbox See more »

Filming Locations:

Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$44,542, 28 February 2014, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$4,231,500, 12 September 2014
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Saajan Fernandes: 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!
See more »

Connections

References Raja the Indian (1996) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Mixes food and romance in a very appealing combination
1 October 2013 | by howard.schumannSee all my reviews

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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