I love this movie so much I want to hug it. It’s a delicate and lovely little film, which slowly sneaks up on you. Within the first ten minutes of the film, you can tell this will be anything but ordinary. The dialogues, the locations, the compositions, the people, the pace, the pauses and the precision of editing – everything is set up in those first ten minutes. Each beat is spot on. Ritesh Batra has created a film so tender and original, it would take thousands of dabbas of cynicism to dislike it.
Move over Freida Pinto, Nimrat Kaur has arrived. Her delightful face sticks to the screen like a magnet which makes you wonder where she had been all this while. Irrfan Khan proves that being a grand actor has nothing to do with good looks or being a superstar (as how it usually goes in our country). Nawazuddin Siddiqui is a big surprise as he checks off ‘Comedy’ on the list of things he can do. His “Le lijiye na sir’ act is hilarious and the reason behind one of the many funny moments in the film. Others are taken by an actress called Bharati Achrekar, who gets to act solely with her voice and nails it.
The premise is not exactly original. We have seen it in films like The Shop Around the Corner (1940) and You’ve Got Mail (1998) and probably in our lives, almost every day - two people talking to each other without meeting physically. It is not where it starts from but where it is taken to, the way the plot unfolds is simply appetizing. The internet has taken over our lives where Facebook and Twitter and other useless social networking hogwash make communication more and more hollow. In virtual times like these comes a film which points out how not being physically present to have a conversation is actually a beautiful thing and not what it has become today. The virtual is real and not the other way round. Love may not be something that anyone of us have seen with our eyes but it is probably the only real thing on earth.
Obviously, the main theme pervading throughout the film is the unseen. We don’t see one character at all throughout the film. The characters don’t see each for most of the film. Although, the most ingenious unseen bit is left for the end. Like a tasty little dessert after a hearty meal. Without spoiling much for you, I would ask you to discover it. The best movies don’t just give us enough meat to chew on, but leave some food for the imagination as well. It is even better when that chicken soup is made for the soul and not in a pretentious “I’ll tell you the meaning of life” way.
The love story in the film can be seen as romantic. But to call it romantic would actually be looking down upon it. It is a solemn observation of the ennui of a housewife and the loneliness of a common man and the good old mystery of destiny. The best stories are those of the mundane lives. Each life is extraordinary underneath with a unique story to tell even when it looks ordinary on the surface.
This is one of those cases where a film bridges all gaps only because it is so good. I can see this being a crowd pleaser, a crossover Oscar nominee and a critical and box office winner at home. Not only will this film get nominated at the Oscars, it also has a great chance of winning the first ever award for Best Foreign Language film for India. From where I see it, the race is over and this film’s destiny is preordained. If only the committee selects it over an unoriginal film like Ship of Theseus (which is mostly in English and should be ineligible). The only thing that is left to see now is whether this film will be the victim of petty backlash or not. There are always party poopers around waiting to spoil a genuinely good thing.
The Lunchbox brings something to the Indian screens that comes rarely with so much effect. A thing called magic. It offers several little dabbas full of it. There is a dialogue from the film that reflects the current state of the arts in our country - “There’s no value for talent in this country.” It’s finally time to break free from the primitive notion, time to prove it wrong. The filmmakers have made their move and now it’s our turn. Make your move, audience.view less