If thoughts, pauses and silences could speak, ‘The Lunchbox’ screams its guts out. The loneliness of characters is aching and you can’t help but relate to them for that’s, in fact, the truth of life. Aren’t we all a little lonely even when we have so many people around us? In a world where we often ignore things that are worth living for are two individuals; at one end, a lonely, much ignored wife and at the other, a Catholic government employee on the verge of retirement. How they connect amidst the many curve balls that life throws at them is the crux of this sweet, melancholy tale.
Love isn’t something that brings in a storm in your life. Instead, it’s found in the littlest, otherwise negligible details of life. The Lunchbox takes you on a journey with Saajan Fernandes (Irrfran Khan) and Ila (Nimrat Kaur) when a dabbawala messes up with the delivery of Ila’s lunchbox that ends up with Saajan. It is then that the desolate individuals develop a connection via hand-written notes, narrating their share of the rigors of life rather wittingly.
“I’ve been offered a vertical burial spot. I’ve spent my life standing in trains and buses and now, I’ll have to stand even when I’m dead”, writes Saajan to Ila. This tacit intimacy between the characters makes you wonder if it would be correct to call a love story! Most of the times, it’s hard to digest a love story on the big screen without some love songs, scenic mountain tops and the lovebirds walking hand-in-hand as the song fades away. This story, however, is so meticulously built-up that it shatters the essentiality for two people to see each before falling in love. For this one, food does the trick. Yum!
If you’ve loved Irrfan’s delivery of words so far, his pauses and silences in this film will stun you. His expressions are larger than life and allot you enough time to soak his brilliance in. Nimrat’s performance is effortless and instills life to scenes that otherwise look ordinary. The highlight, however, is Nawazuddin Siddiqui who plays Aslam Sheikh. Recruited to fill in Fernandes’ post once he retires, Nawaz plays his role to perfection, managing to make even the very reticent Fernandes smile, thus, adding tiny moments of giggles. It’s impossible to not love him.
This story makes you happy and sad at the same time. Happy, because there’s so much brilliance in front of your eyes at once. Sad, because it ends on a melancholy note. For audiences who are fans of finesse and nothing less than that, this one’s definitely a treat (pun very much intended!). It comes as no surprise that The Lunchbox had some 20 producers backing it up. If there’s any hope for the Indian cinema to resurrect, it is because of films like this. No compromise. Just pure talent and vision.