The Lunchbox

Plays on February 12 as part of Cinematheque’s Valentine’s Day Dinner and a Movie screening

Some romantic dramas can be a little cheesy and unrealistic, but the Lunchbox doesn’t fall into that category and manages to keep things fresh. It tells the story of two very different people who share lots of chemistry while writing letters, but never get to take their relationship off the page. 

The romance starts accidentally when Saajan (Irrfan Khan, also seen in Life of Pi), a widowed accountant on the verge of retirement receives the wrong lunch. He eventually discovers that the lunch is made by a young woman in an unfulfilling marriage named Ila (Nimrat Kaur, Homeland). Their written relationship changes both of them for the better - especially Saajan - even if they don’t end up living happily ever after together.

The Lunchbox may also appeal to anyone who has an interest in East Indian culture and doesn’t mind reading subtitles. Some Westerners may not be aware of the lunchbox system used in Mumbai. Delivery workers (dabbawalas) pick up hot food from houses or restaurants and deliver it to the work place just before lunch time. This shift from microwaveable office culture is important for the film’s premise.

There are some nice shots of Mumbai, the gigantic Indian metropolis that’s home to over 18 million people and also the birthplace of the film’s writer/director Ritesh Batra. And if nothing else, all the food that’s made in the film looks delicious. You may find yourself craving some curry when the credits roll.

Published in Volume 69, Number 19 of The Uniter (February 4, 2015)

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