Response Journal: The Lunchbox (2014)

Honey, I left a surprise in your lunch; it’s profundity.

Indian import The Lunchbox is a drama about a widowed bureaucrat and his epistolary relationship with a lonely housewife after a lunch delivery service serendipitously confuses addresses. It stars the ubiquitous Irrfan Khan whose intelligent, understated performances carry profound emotional depth. The actor has shined recently in supporting roles in high-profile American releases based in India, notably Slumdog Millionaire and Life Of Pi. Here the setting is presented as neither slum nor reverie, but as a naturalistic metropolis where major national concerns affect workaday citizens (problematic overcrowding, hoary social hierarchies). Moreover, stressed is the country’s appreciation for cuisine as both status symbol and happiness indicator. The screenplay is threadbare and sometimes repetitive, but director Ritesh Batra decocts a mood of wistful sincerity that befits a tale of spiritual solitude amidst unbridled population growth. Contrary to its romantic comedy conceit, The Lunchbox is actually a rare delicacy, astute, transporting and affecting.

Costarring Nimrat Kaur and Nawazuddin Siddiqui.  Screenplay by Ritesh Bartra.

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