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Blu-ray Review: The Lunchbox

July 8, 2014

The Lunchbox Blu-ray

The Lunchbox – A Sony Pictures Classics Release
Blu-ray Release Date: July 8th, 2014
Rated PG for thematic material
Running time: 105 minutes

Ritesh Batra (dir.)

Ritesh Batra (screenplay)

Max Richter (music)

Irrfan Khan as Saajan Fernandes
Nimrat Kaur as Ila
Nawazuddin Siddiqui as Shaikh
Nakul Vaid as Rajeev

Our reviews below:


The Lunchbox Blu-ray Review By John Corrado

***1/2 (out of 4)

Ila (Nimrat Kaur) is a lonely housewife who spends her days cooking homemade lunches for her often absent husband (Nakul Vaid), which are then sent to his work through Mumbai’s largely foolproof lunchbox delivery system.  But when one of the lunches is accidentally delivered to Saajan Fernandes (Irrfan Khan), a depressed office worker nearing retirement, the two form a bond through her cooking and the notes that they start sending back and forth, helping them come to terms with their fears and dreams for the future.

We really come to care about these two strangers through the letters and stories that they share, and watching their worlds come together is both charming and incredibly touching, as they find solace in revealing their hopes and regrets to each other.  With beautifully understated performances from Irrfan Khan and Nimrat Kaur, The Lunchbox is a powerfully written and profoundly affecting story of chance encounters and new beginnings, that is universally relatable.

The Blu-ray includes commentary with writer/director Ritesh Batra.


The Lunchbox Blu-ray Review By Erin V.

**** (out of 4)

The Lunchbox – originally titled “Dabba” – is a quiet film that takes place in India.  The film focuses its premise on the lunchbox delivery system in Mumbai where couriers pick up thousands of lunch boxes each day from wives and caterers and deliver them to offices.

When Ila (Nimrat Kaur) makes a special meal for her husband, the lunchbox accidentally goes to another man instead, Saajan Fernandes (Irrfan Khan).  When she realizes the mistake, she puts a note inside the lunchbox the next day to see if it goes to the wrong place again.  It does, and Fernandes writes back.  Rather than tell the delivery service their error, from then on, a correspondence starts between Ila and Fernandes, each using it as an opportunity to talk about things in their lives that are hard to discuss face to face.  At first the anonymity feels safe, but soon they are curious to know who their pen pal actually is.

The film is beautifully made, and feels very real as it addresses the issues of two people at different points in their lives trying to come to terms with what their life has become and where it can go from here.  At times it has a melancholy reflectiveness, but also a very meditative view on the connections that come in and out of our lives.  Winning countless film festival awards, The Lunchbox is a beautiful little film that deserves to be seen now that it is on DVD.  The film is in Hindi and English, with English subtitles.


The Lunchbox Blu-ray Review By Nicole

**** (out of 4)

“Sometimes the wrong train can get you to the right station.”  That line from The Lunchbox reflects the simple and very moving story of two needy people, who connect through a “mistake.”  When Ila (Nimrat Kaur) decides to send a special home cooked lunch through courier service to her increasingly distant husband, the lunchbox winds up going to Saajan Fernandes (Irrfan Khan) instead, a lonely man nearing retirement.  A note carefully placed with the lunch cheers him up, and an exchange of notes get sent back and forth, helping them both.

The Lunchbox is a subtle, quiet film that captures the beauty of simple human connection.  The acting is perfect, beautifully underplayed and filled with emotion.  The slightly hazy, subdued lighting captures the loneliness and disconnect found in modern major cities.  The Lunchbox takes a critical look at the serious mental health toll of this increasing disconnect.  But this is also a dramedy, and has many funny moments.  One of the funniest characters is Auntie (Bharati Achreker), who is heard from above Ila’s apartment, but never seen.

The Lunchbox is a wonderful, universal story about the unseen positive affect of connecting with someone, even a complete stranger.


The Lunchbox Blu-ray Review By Maureen

***1/2 (out of 4)

Life is full of unexpected little treats.  A note from a friend, a delicious homemade lunch, and writer/director Ritesh Batra’s delightful film The Lunchbox.

Ila (Nimrat Kaur) is a stay at home wife and mother in Mumbai.  She starts her days getting daughter Yashvi (Yashvi Puneet Nager) off to school, and preparing a lovingly made lunchbox meal for her husband Rajeev (Nakul Vaid), to be delivered to his workplace by a lunchbox delivery service.  Her hope is that the delicious lunches will get the attention of her often distracted and inattentive husband.

When the lunchbox is mistakenly delivered to Saajan Fernandes (Irrfan Khan), a lonely businessman near retirement, the mixup leads to an unexpected pen pal type friendship after Saajan includes a note commenting on the cooking with the returned empty lunchbox.  Egged on by her unseen but heard through the open window of the flat upstairs Auntie (Bharati Achreker), Ila responds back with a note of her own.  Soon Ila and Saajan are corresponding daily with the notes becoming increasingly personal, each sharing their fears, regrets, hopes and dreams.  The notes change them both in ways neither of them expected.

The Lunchbox is incredibly touching and sweet.  The quiet friendship between Ila and Saajan against the backdrop of busy, noisy Mumbai speaks volumes about the need for connection between people.  Nimrat Kaur and Irrfan Khan give wonderfully subtle performances, making the connection between these two strangers completely believable.  This is also a charming and often funny film, with some of the funniest moments coming from Ila’s conversations with her unseen Auntie upstairs.

After making the 2013 film festival circuit, The Lunchbox is finally available on disc to anyone looking for a charming and touching story of two lonely people finding comfort in the discovery that someone else, even in a place as busy as Mumbai, India might actually enjoy sharing their thoughts and feelings, even if only through a series of lunchbox notes.


The Lunchbox Blu-ray Review By Tony

***1/2 (out of 4)

The Lunchbox is set in Mumbai, where for over a century home-cooked or catered lunches have been delivered to Indian workers in stacked tin-plated steel containers (called tiffin boxes or Dabba–the Indian film title) kept warm in insulated bags. The thousands of typically illiterate dabbawalas pride themselves in the efficiency and near-perfect accuracy of their delivery system from kitchen to desk. This film deals with the one dabba in a million that goes astray.

Ila (Nimrat Kaur) is a young mother trying to rekindle her husband’s love through really nice lunches prepared with helpful advice from her “auntie” (voice of Bharati Achrekar) in the flat above. Saajan Fernandes (Irrfan Khan) is a world weary widower accountant about to retire, not too thrilled about having to train his overeager replacement Shaikh (Nawazuddin Siddiqui).

When he gets Ila’s dabba by mistake he assumes it came from the caterer. Meanwhile, when her husband Rajeev (Nakul Vaid) is not impressed with the catered lunch he got, Ila realizes the mixup but continues to send lunches including messages packed with the flatbread. Fernandes replies at first with comments on the food, but the correspondence quickly becomes more personal, as the two share and help each other cope with their problems. Whether they should ever meet in person is another question.

The first feature from director Ritesh Batra, The Lunchbox is a delightful film with universal appeal, mainly carried by the two leads in their individual scenes. As a realistic portrait of middle class Indian life, it is a nice departure from flashy musicals and earlier films about poverty. Its quiet intensity reminded me of the recent Saudi film Wadjda, and interestingly both films have musical scores by Max Richter reverse outsourced to Germany.


Consensus: Carried by wonderful performances from Irrfan Khan and Nimrat Kaur, The Lunchbox is a charming and beautifully written film about the profound power of human connection, that is touching and universally relatable. ***3/4 (out of 4)

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