Local..Dabbawallahs..Traffic..Monsoon...Finance..Dreams.. Fans.. Crowd!! All are the essential ingredients of Mumbai.The Lunchbox is presented in three course meal, that of a starter (Mumbai), Main dish (Life) and irresistible dessert ( Love) and is worth relishing.
Ritesh Batra's film is about two strangers whose fates are entangled by Dabbawallahs. Ila( Nimrat Kaur), a neglected housewife who makes every effort to be noticed by her husband. She keeps on trying new recipes to woo him but all in vain. Saajan Fernandes (Irfan) quite an old man, gets to relish those delicious dishes prepared by Ila. Thanks to Dabbawallahs! Thus, begins their camaraderie, by exchanging notes, sharing their lives.
The plot is simple, but intriguing. The homemaker in busy Mumbai lonely and desperate, wants her voice to be heard, her feelings to be shared. She is a dutiful wife and mother. Her world surrounds bringing up her daughter and her husband who is seeing another woman. Another character an old man who is a recluse since his wife's death and has been living the monotony of life. He smokes and eats by himself. He doesn't like to mix up with people, even his colleagues have opinions about him. No one seems to bother about him. He has managed to book a standing grave for himself. That's Mumbai, no place for living, not even for dead.
Sheikh, who dreams to survive in Mumbai played by Nawazudin Siddique . He excels in his part. He is funny, pitiable and irritating at times, but a lovable one. He is going to replace Saajan next month. He goes to every extent to butter the latter for imparting him the training. Sheikh tells him that he is an orphan which changes Saajan's equation towards him. It is sheer delight to watch them together onscreen. What ever he does, he is honest in his approach. He symbolises the Dreams and Finance.How he lied to his father- in- law about his promotion only to be bestowed with the two wheeler in his marriage. The files managed by him smells of garlic and onion because he chops all the vegetables in the Local to save time. And this is the fact, almost everyone has to commute by Local for work everyday. Even Saajan Fernandes has to bear the same, wiggling through the crowd to reach the destination. Kudos to Mumbaikars for this!
The tale is well narrated and connects the audience. There are no songs except one from Saajan,which Ila requests her Deshpande Aunty to play.Coincidentally, the man savouring her lunchbox is Saajan too. And one folk song, 'Dnyanoba Mauli Tukaram' which opens the film crooned by Dabbawallahs in the Local.
One example of a sweet companionship is between Ila and Deshpande Aunty's voice. Yes.. You read it right. She never appears physically,but she is there guiding Ila and talking to her. She lives upstairs,looking after her bedridden husband who has been staring at the fan for years as if The Fan controls his life. She even gets a generator for his lifeline.
Another sensitive portrayal is of Ila and her mother. A married daughter feels helpless to provide any financial help to her ailing father The scene is enacted with true conviction by both the actors.
People in urban cities are caught in the web of loneliness, they need someone to listen to them. When Ila and Saajan start exchanging those short notes in the lunchbox, their lives are transformed and that's the power of sharing and bonding. Ila decides to find a way to come out of her loveless marriage. Saajan's attitude towards life and people around him has changed too.Now he is cool with the children playing in front of his house.He has started smiling often. The aroma of food has come out of the lunchbox and makes his life so positive and lively.He even gets a painting for himself because he feels, he sees himself in the painting.One thing which I loved about the film is the language used in those notes is what they are comfortable in and of course they understand each other.This reminds me of the scene in the film, English Vinglish when Shashi and her Italian friend talks in their own language.The feelings, friendship and love needs no language to express.
The characters are living insipidly until The Lunchbox adds some spice into their lives.Rush and treat yourself to it.The treat might not be the perfect one but I am sure you will like it.