Film Review : The Lunchbox (2014)

IMDB Score – 7.9
Rotten Tomato Score – 96%

Directed By – Ritesh Batra
Starring – Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Lillete Dubey, Nakul Vaid, and Bharati Achrekar

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.

Would you count this as a Bollywood movie? Every time I think of Bollywood movies, THIS scene sticks out in my mind…

My knowledge of Bollywood has been reduced to a horse sliding under a truck as if it has been frozen in place. I think I may have the notion that all Bollywood films rival the low budget B movies that we see in grindhouse theaters in America. My ignorance couldn’t be more apparent. The country pumps out more movies than one could count and while a lot of them consist of special effects shots as shown above, there are a great number of quality cinema coming from India. While I haven’t seen any of his films, the work of Satyajit Ray has made it’s way to the eyes of American film nerds. I think I should make the nice Indian woman who works at my library happy and finally take her up on her suggestions to watch his films. Tonight though I decided to start with a more recent film from the country of India, The Lunchbox.

My local art house was playing this for a couple weeks but I couldn’t get myself to make the drive over there. This is the problem with living across the river from New York City. I fucking hate going anywhere else. The theater is a half hour drive west and I just couldn’t find the time. I was interested in it because I have this weird romantic film itch I’ve been scratching lately so when it was available on Netflix DVD service I added it to the top of my queue.

If this film was made by an American production company, Rachel McAdams and Richard Gere would have starred and it would have been directed by Lasse Hallstrom. It would have rivaled Nights in Rodanthe or whatever that slop of a movie was called and would have been attended by every house mother in the nation. The film centers around two adults in India who correspond through lunch due to an error in the infamous lunchbox delivery system. The woman, played by Nimrat Kaur, is neglected by her husband so when she finds out she’s been making lunch for another man, played by Irrfan Khan, she continues to do so. The two build a relationship through letters and what looks like delicious food and BAM we have our movie. You see what I mean about the America thing? They’d call it “Lunch for Two” and it’d gross 100 million dollars. Somebody is going to read this and it’s going to happen. Watch.

The film ended up being such a pleasurable watch. I think I watch films like these every once in a while because my viewing tendencies lean towards a lot of dark horrible shit. People dying or people killing. Rape. Ghosts. Mafia. Zombies. Violent Crime. All usual stuff going through my eyes and ears. I needed this. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a walk in the park. There are some pretty heavy emotional scenes in the film carried out by some pretty fantastic acting by Kaur and Kahn. The film builds the relationship and character of these two people with subtlety and care. There were no long conversations setting up backstory or details that didn’t need to be there. The details were revealed as they needed to be. The screenplay was tight but contructed in a way to let the film breath. Not a lot happened in the first hour. That was okay though. We were treated with some nice food preparation and Indian scenery with a bit of character development thrown on top. By the end, I was fully involved with how these two people ended up. The ending by the way…perfect. They didn’t insult my intelligence by assuming I don’t have a goddamn imagination. I like when filmmakers let me end the story with my mind. I don’t need a bow every time.

Like I mentioned, Kahn and Kaur were wonderful, Kahn especially. Ever since I saw him in “Life of Pi” I’ve been completely impressed with him as an actor in everything else he’s been in that I’ve seen. He’s on my list of completely underrated by extremely talented actors. Hell, even his small role in The Darjeeling Limited was great. Kaur had the scene of the movie. She was able to convey a whole range of emotions with just her eyes. Also, he conversations with her Auntie upstairs were fun to listen to.

The film is a great watch when you’re feeling shitty or just want to watch a warm, light hearted film about a small romance in India. It was genuine and superbly acted and written.



2 thoughts on “Film Review : The Lunchbox (2014)

  1. Very Nice Review. I thought quite highly of this film as well. I reviewed it more than six months ago – in mid April of this year.

    FYI Nimrat Kaur has just shown up with a tasty role in the Homeland series. Also for your info – The Lunch Box is STILL playing at a theater in the USA. To date it has taken in over 4 million dollars in the USA which is excellent for a film that is much closer to the Art film category than the Commercial Category.

    And yes – do take in some Satyajit Ray films – begin with Pather Panchali which was made almost 60 years ago. I guarantee you will not see any horses sliding under trucks. .

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