The moment I saw the promo of this movie on the idiot box, I knew I had to see it. There was something different, something unidentifiable that tugged at your heart.
The movie starts with the famous Mumbaicha dabbawallas, the ubiquitous lifeline of the city, who methodically and faultlessly go about their job of collecting and delivering lunch boxes at their destined places. There is a young middle-class housewife, Ila, who cooks a vegetable with a different recipe and puts it in her husband’s lunch box hoping that it would surely appeal to her husband’s taste buds and rekindle some romance in their otherwise lifeless marriage. But the lunch box gets wrongly delivered to Saajan Fernandes. Saajan has been working at the Claims Department for 35 years and is about to retire in a month’s time. Saajan is also a widower and a loner. Saajan who doesn’t expect much taste from his food prepared by his neighborhood restaurant gobbles up the entire food in Ila’s lunch box. On the other hand, her husband loves the food of the restaurant. Ila doesn’t disclose the truth to her husband but continues sending the dabba to Saajan along with a letter which Saajan promptly replies. Thus starts an innocent pen friendship via a lunch box. Though the letters sometimes convey widely unrelated thoughts and their inner turmoil, they become something more meaningful as the time goes.
But do Saajan and Ila ever meet? They might or they might not. It depends on how optimistic and benevolent you are feeling.
The Lunchbox is a simple story narrated in a very simple way. But aren’t the simple things in life the most imaginative and powerful. The depth of detailing in the movie like Orient fans, by-gone Doordarshan shows, a man past his prime getting ready for a date, dabbawallas singing bhajans and a man cutting veggies in the local trains is commendable. In this digital age, it’s difficult to see someone communicating through letters but still the hand written letters touch such a nostalgic chord. The humor is in the everyday things that we take for granted. And also we forget, one man’s fall provides another man’s laugh.
The characters in this movie are well thought of. Irrfan Khan is a fine actor and as usual he has done a fantastic job as Saajan Fernandes. Nimrat Kaur as Ila has believably played her part as a neglected housewife. Though I might say she looks better and acts better in the Cadbury Silk commercial. But the surprise element in the film is Nawazuddin Siddiqui who has given a mind blowing performance as Saajan’s happy-go-lucky subordinate Sheikh. And also before I forget I need to give full marks to Bharati Achrekar who plays Ila’s neighbor, the only-heard-but-never-seen Aunty.
This is the most beautiful love story that I have seen in a very long time. It certainly deserves a dekko if not a standing ovation.