The Lunchbox is based on a simple plot where a lunchbox reaches an unintended destination and weaves an array of emotions between the two individuals involved. Some natural performances from protagonists Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur and supporting actor Nawazuddin Siddhiqui coupled with great direction from Ritesh Batra gives you a film which is simple in romance and deep in emotions.
Ritesh Batra has written a brilliant script which has symbolism in dialogues and action. The dialogues carry the whole story forward through letters that Irrfan and Nimrat exchange daily through the lunchbox.
The dialogues and acting are so good that almost 80% of the time you see just two shots: office canteen and kitchen and you never feel bored. Same lunchbox is opened and packed every single day and we, as a viewer, voyeuristically watching their old school letter-exchange romance wait in anticipation of words to be uttered.
This can happen only when you have a great script. Words not only tell the story but also excite emotions in you which are being felt by the two protagonists. There are many instances where there is complete absence of sounds but still it looks interesting just because of the words that have been spoken few seconds ago.
Their is no music, not even background score. But it has been shot so nicely that the camera work and ambient sounds never let you feel the absence of it. Certain songs (sung by the boys, dabbawallah on the local train and tape recorder) have been used to maintain the continuity.
Camera is deliberately shaky at many places to give you a feel of motion and flow of the story.
The film tells the fact that we all need someone to talk to, that friend who helps us remain connected with the past. The past which was beautiful, which we tend to forget because we have no one to discuss. Past is the time that defines the present and a disconnect from it tends to destroy our present or affect it severely.
A widower Irrfan, completely mechanical due to an absence of past from his life after his wife’s death, doesn’t have too many emotions before that green lunchbox prepared by a housewife in an attempt to win the love of her husband back reaches him.
Suddenly, with the written exchanges, his quiver of feelings gets a variety. He smiles, giggles, gets happy and feels concerned. From sounding like a disenchanted individual he starts caring as he attends to Nwazuddin’s dinner invite and wedding.
We see how just few written words can affect two lives: Nimrat’s who knows her husband is cheating, and Irrfan’s who has nothing but a lonely home to go to. There is a hope irrespective of the fact that none knew anything about each other, Irrfan didn’t even care to to tell his name!
This hope that ‘kabhi kabhi galat train bhi sahi jagah pahuncha deti hai‘ is the driving force behind both the protagonist’s final decision regarding their lives.
The film ends suggesting both of them would meet and leave for a happier place: Bhutan. Even the choice of place is symbolic as (in the dialogues as well) Bhutan has Gross National Happiness in the place of GDP.
The film is a must watch for anyone who is tired of shitty romances that earn northwards of 100 crores, who is bored of saying that Bollywood doesn’t make great films, who wants to learn how you can have just a limited cast and limited story and yet create something as beautiful as The Lunchbox.
Please book a ticket and watch.