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The Lunchbox (Dabba)

A film by Ritesh Batra

The Lunchbox is an unusual banquet, raising a bittersweet toast to life. Like a tiffin carrier, it has many levels. It is the story of a man so lonely, he’s forgotten what any companionship means. It is the story of a suburban housewife, deeply alone. It is the story of meeting via eating. It is a love story and a love-letter to Mumbai, to trains that go dhak-dhak, to dabbawalas and rain, to love and life, sugar and spice, the despair and hope that mark every heart. Saajan Fernandes (Irrfan Khan) is an accountant. A widower, he is a cold, prickly grouch avoided by all. One day, a lunchbox prepared by Ila (Nimrat Kaur) for her husband somehow reaches Saajan instead. He devours her delicacies, the empty box returned evidence of his enjoyment. Annoyed by the stranger’s lack of thanks, Ila sends him another lunchbox with a sarcastic note and he responds. Suddenly, the two are writing daily, sharing jokes, fears, passions for keema and kadhi – then, a desire to meet. This movie is held together by delicate performances. Khan leads the way, gently, yet lastingly, like a cardamom between your lips. With moments like Saajan catching himself in a street painter’s sketch, he shows an ordinary life with extraordinary deftness, bringing to mind that childhood uncle, who, begged to return your ball, would snarl, ‘Do I look like your servant?’ Khan is matched by Kaur’s Ila, soft as a sandesh, but with a mysterious, molten heart. Quiet moments, like Ila’s expression when she smells the world on her husband’s shirts, catch you. Her familiar situation, that of a housewife living for a husband who has switched off, is beautifully conveyed. The two are ably supported by chirpy, pesky Shaikh (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), Saajan’s trainee, whose antics help melt his boss’s frozen heart. Note: You may not like this movie if you don’t like softly spiced whimsical tales – or food. – Srijana Mitra Das, The Times of IndiaOfficial Trailer
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Directed by: 
Ritesh Batra
Running Time: 
English and Hindi with English Subtitles
Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur, Nwazuddin Siddiqui, Bhrati Achreker
Screenplay by: 
Ritesh Batra, Rutvik Oza

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