The Lunchbox: A banquet for two lonely people (with video)

Published: March 20, 2014


The Lunchbox
Rating: 3½ stars out of 5
Starring: Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur Directed by: Ritesh Batra
Running time: 104 minutes (In English and Hindi with English subtitles)

he Lunchbox-Bollywood

Irrfan Khan as Saajan. Photo by Michael Simmonds, inThe Lunchbox. Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

“Sometimes, the wrong train will get you to the right station,” someone says in The Lunchbox, a love letter — to lonely people, to the power of food, to India itself — that gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “let’s do lunch.”

Ila (the lovely Nimrat Kaur) is a lonely and neglected wife trying to win her husband back with her cooking: you can almost smell the fragrances that rise from a pot as she adds more spices to the sauce. She is making his lunch, which is packed into four stainless-steel containers, clipped together with an ingenious collar, and packed into a bag to be delivered to his office.

The delivery system is a charming testament to Indian manpower and an indictment of its chaos. Lunchboxes by the thousands are taken by bicycle, train and delivery man to thousands of desks, and Ila has made a particularly pungent meal to win back her distant mate.

“One bite of that and he’ll build you a Taj Mahal,” yells her upstairs neighbour — known only as Auntie — who shouts advice through an open window. Ila replies that the Taj Mahal is a mausoleum.

Although the lunchbox service brags that even Harvard University has studied its methods — indeed, the King of England himself was impressed — the box is delivered to the wrong man. It winds up on the desk of Saajan Fernandes (Irrfan Khan), a glum widower who works in unsmiling isolation, preparing claims for an insurance company. Nevertheless, he loves the meal.

Ila discovers the mix-up and eventually she and Saajan begin a correspondence, placing notes in the meals that go to his desk and the empty containers, some of them practically licked clean, that are sent back to her.

Saajan is about to retire — the formally polite Shaikh (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) flits about his desk, trying to learn insurance lore — but he is being brought back to life by these meals, and by this connection. And Ila, who smells the odours of duplicity as she washes her husband’s shirts, begins to see a new life as well.

It’s a slight film, but director Ritesh Batra, making his first feature, encompasses the film’s gentle performances into the chaos of Mumbai, a place so crowded that, as Saajan notes, people are buried standing up.

The teeming humanity has left two lost souls behind, and we watch them — cool and untouched in the heat of the air and the spices — yearning toward one another. What they do about it is the movie’s last, tantalizing dish.

Tags: , , , , , ,



A new mayor is coming to Surrey, but don’t forget about councillors

SFU prof stresses importance of electing councillors who will push for the Surrey you want AMY REID SURREY NOW SURREY — With incumbent Mayor Dianne…
Continue Reading »


Salaam Bombay: Gluten free Indian cuisine

SAMANTHA MCLEOD THE PROVINCE  Salam Bombay: Salaam to the classiest and cleanest side of Bombay, right here in Vancouver! You know when you’re watching an Indian movie…
Continue Reading »

CBC-sexual behaviour-lawsuit

Jian Ghomeshi bails on Prince George appearance on Nov. 7

THE CANADIAN PRESS PRINCE GEORGE — Embattled former “Q” radio host Jian Ghomeshi has pulled out of a speaking engagement organized by the Prince George…
Continue Reading »


Today in History – Nov. 15

Advance THE CANADIAN PRESS Today in History for Nov. 15: On this date: In 1280, German theologian and music theorist Albertus Magnus died. Magnus taught…
Continue Reading »

Today in History – Nov. 13

Advance THE CANADIAN PRESS Today in History for Nov. 13: On this date: In 354, African theologian Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, was born in Numidia,…
Continue Reading »

Today in History – Nov. 12

Advance THE CANADIAN PRESS Today in History for Nov. 12: On this date: In 1774, British citizens in Quebec protested the Quebec Act which restored…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

health check

Parents of six-year-old girl ‘horrified’ after botched vaccination exposes her to HIV

GORDON MCINTYRE VANCOUVER DESI A six-year-old girl is in danger of having contacted HIV after a routine vaccination went awry in Fort St. James earlier…
Continue Reading »

ghost marriage

11 held for digging women’s graves for ‘ghost marriages’

IANS/EFE Beijing – Chinese police have arrested 11 people for allegedly digging up dead women’s bodies from their graves to sell them for rituals known…
Continue Reading »

Jian Ghomeshi

‘Big Ears Teddy’ Twitter account posted Jian Ghomeshi abuse allegations six months ago

ISHMAEL N. DARO CANADA.COM In less than a week, Jian Ghomeshi has gone from one of the most well-known and beloved CBC personalities to an…
Continue Reading »


Battleground Surrey: Which mayoral candidate can stop the carnage?

CASSIDY OLIVIER VANCOUVER DESI The streets leading to the Newton Arena are littered with debris from the previous night’s storm. Overflow from the downpour swiftly…
Continue Reading »

Smart 21 communities

Surrey named among World’s Smart21 Communities of 2015

VANCOUVER DESI SURREY, B.C. – The Intelligent Community Forum has named the City of Surrey as one of the world’s Smart21 Communities of 2015. As one…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood Latest

Bollywood movie Fireflies

Fireflies: Sincerely done; good looking film

SUBHASH K. JHA IANS  Film: “Fireflies”; Cast: Rahul Khanna, Arjun Mathur, Monica Dogra, Shivani Ghai, Aadya Bedi; Writer-Director: Sabal Singh Shekhawat; Rating: *** 1/2 Things…
Continue Reading »

Ismaili musicians - Aga Khan foundation

Salim-Sulaiman show underlines Vancouver’s rising Bollywood cachet

LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI With big-time Bollywood composers Salim-Sulaiman set to kick off their North American tour at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on Saturday, it…
Continue Reading »

Shah Rukh Khan

Burdwan blast: Shah Rukh Khan prays for better times for Bengal

IANS Kolkata – Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, West Bengal’s brand ambassador, Wednesday expressed his unwillingness to talk about the terror blast in Burdwan, but…
Continue Reading »