English and Urdu with English subtitles, 2013, 105 minutes, color, India/France/Germany
Sundance Feature Film Program fellow Ritesh Batra dazzled audiences and critics alike with his debut feature The Lunchbox, which premiered in the 2013 Cannes Film Festival Critics’ Week.
To add spice to her marriage, Ila sends a special lunch to her husband’s office via dabbawallas (Mumbai deliverymen who transport hundreds of thousands of lunchboxes daily). But the meal is mistakenly delivered to Saajan, a lonely accountant who is about to retire. When a second lunch, this time with a note, again goes to Saajan, he is intrigued and replies. Through a series of notes, the lunchbox pen pals share personal feelings and form a relationship, despite having never met.
With a beautiful simplicity, The Lunchbox relates a nostalgic, but unsentimental, love story that belongs to the classic age of cinema. The twist is that it has been dropped into the anonymity of modern Mumbai, whose incessant commotion and commuting masses defy romanticism. The wonderfully subtle Irrfan Khan and luminous newcomer Nimrat Kaur draw us into the emotional world of their characters and their willingness to confide in a stranger. The Lunchbox delights its audience with its portrait of a virtual romance—one conducted only by pen and paper.
Director: Ritesh Batra
Screenwriter: Ritesh Batra
Producers: Guneet Monga, Anurag Kashyap, Arun Rangachari
Executive Producers: Ritesh Batra, Irrfan Khan, Lydia Dean Pilcher
Cinematographer: Michael Simmonds
Editor: John Lyons
Production Designer: Shruti Gupte
Principal Cast: Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Denzil Smith, Bharati Achrekar, Nakul Vaid