Wednesday, October 02, 2013

The LunchBox



Rating : 7/10
Release Date : 20th September, 2013
Time : 109 minutes
Director & Writer : Ritesh Batra; Music : Max Richter
Starring : Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur, Nawazuddin Siddique, Lillette Dubey, Bharti Achrekar (voice of Aunty)



Its an excruciatingly slow film that teaches us invaluable lessons about marriage, growing old…perhaps patience is the third lesson – and after all isn’t it absolutely necessary to experience life the right way ?


Widower, Irrfan, about to retire in a month, leads a lonely existence. Works in insurance, has Nawazuddin lined up to take over his role. And suddenly, he begins receiving the wrong lunchbox. The one prepared by young Nimrat for her husband. Soon they start exchanging notes. Some brief. Some more expansive ones about their journeys and current tribulations. And soon, the notes are the most looked forward feature in each of their daily lives.


There is something curious about the institution of marriage. How you are literally locked up in a room with someone (in India, usually a stranger) and told to live the rest of your life with that person. You are expected to find love, companionship, romance and adventure – all with the same person – while at the same time taking care of the person, putting up with their little foibles (obsession with the telephone, TV, news etc).


It gets even stranger with old age. A mix of inflation, fatalism, no concern for fitness and lack of interests outside of work means most of us are hopelessly unprepared for life after retirement – either financially or mentally. And here too, the spouse is supposed to selflessly, without care for her own life or needs, devote themselves to taking care of you…and it is expected – to not do so would be considered an inappropriate deviation


The story progresses in a leisurely manner, filled with little gems of moments. The relationship between the upstairs Aunty (never seen but voiced with great nuance by Bharti Achrekar) and Nimrat – with a basket going up and down carrying goods and sage advice. The discussion about traffic, commuting standing up and vertical burials. The getting ready for an unnoticing husband. Irrfan’s brief and critical response to the delicious lunchbox when he gets a note for the first time (which reminded me of a scene involving Obelix from Asterix and The Gladiator, if memory serves me right). The eager Nawaz, self-taught, under-equipped for the job but keen to learn, keen to progress (he even chops his vegetables on the train) and keen to strike up a relationship with the reclusive Irrfan. The same song playing on the train and in Nimrat’s home. Bhutan and the mystique around its Gross National Happiness. The old cassettes, video and audio, full of memories.


The film does move very slowly- sometimes more than necessary and hence a second viewing within a short span of time is unlikely (one of my key criteria for a higher rating). Some of the things the characters do don’t make sense. But the performances are spot on and help sweep such doubts under the carpet. Its great to see Irrfan and Nawazuddin together – one deadpan and the other managing to communicate a lot more but without any histrionics. Nimrat is a revelation – found her outstanding and hope we see a lot more of her.


There were also two statements – one repeated a few times – which sum up the movies philosophy about life and its strange ways. One is that sometimes getting on a wrong train can lead you to the right destination. And the other is that no one buys yesterdays lottery ticket…

53 comments:

J said...

Hope we get to see more of such movies.

Anonymous said...

Straight from d horse's mouth.., "Why do u get married? Coz society says d only way u can b physically close to smone is through marriage. U can't call that love. It's society's need that is fulfilled here, not d soul's calling. I think a sanctified marriage is when u have an option to sleep with 10 people, but u r still choosing that one person to live with. Human beings aren't wired to spend their entire life with one person. I wud respect a marriage where d man & woman have d freedom to sleep with anyone. There is no bondage...." Irrfan Khan.... Life's Ironies... What is d use of an idea unless it is uttered ? What good is a dream unless executed ? What good r thoughts, unless used to benefit other?

Anonymous said...

A bad marriage with its aversions is better than free womanhood with its interests, dignity & leisure... Pis aller- for most Indian women, who make this mistake, are left, whose deeper nature have never been stirred....

Anonymous said...

Mr. Blogger, u mentioned about obsession, what about d ongoing one ?? I know one sh move with d time, but there is a direct correlation between d disappearance of real friendship & trending of d faux version among d twitterati & flitterati. Embraceable, hand holdable, warm-body friends have been replaced by d FB variety, only a click away, but a planet removed from d real thing... Internet is infact, pushing us away from real people. It encourages us to become narcissistic consumers, expressing our "likes" & sharing every detail of our lives without truly connecting with anyone. Maybe that's why Snowden shared govt.secrets with all. Age of unbound indivi-dual-ism !! God save d genxt...

Anonymous said...

In this so called "Modern Times" too, a majority of women are simply Stepford wives,... their desires are repressed,...feel as midgets...., don't have any say in d family matters... just give in.. in d hope of a rosy tomorrow.. it's said --- Hope Springs Eternal..

Anonymous said...

An enduring mystery is, what makes one spouse so attuned to d emotional climate in a marriage, & another so oblivious ?

Anonymous said...

Arre wah!! & I was thinking that I had forgotten to press d "enter" button...

Anonymous said...

There are women who deal with d constant barrage of verbal abuse with silence, for fear of reprisals.

Anonymous said...

Marriage is a venerable institution & I believe in it for those purposes anyway. Just don't know if I believe in it anymore for myself. That's a hard thing to make peace with. Sometimes I think I love d commitment more than d man. Everything is about him, leaves a lot of things unresolved. Been through a lot & come out d other end...am a woman determined to survive... I've been doing heavy rescue work last 2 decades. Lord knows why. I wanted to make everything right for him & fix everything, just couldn't reach his expectations. It's interesting how, when people treat us badly, we then feel responsible, & take on their guilt. I've never really understood it. At this crossroad life is hard & real.......... I hate porn films, violence, sad endings or gratuitous bullshit.. I like movies I understand, with happy endings, that make me laugh & stay awake...

Anonymous said...

If Flipcart starts matrimonial services, they'll become no.1 site in d world...because they have 30 days return policy :) I sound like a nutcase. This one-way comment is indeed therapeutic. Don't want to bottle my feelings...

Anonymous said...

Presentiments r strange things ! & so are sympathies; & so r signs : d 3 combined make one mystery to which humanity has not yet found d key. I never laughed at presentiments in my life; because I have had strange ones of my own & signs, for aught we know, may be but d sympathies of Nature with man... vain aspiration ! I began to cherish hopes I had no right to conceive.

Anonymous said...

Sunday...eternal silence of solitude, an unconscious lassitude weighs on d lid that signifies melancholy resulting from loneliness. A loving eye is all d charm needed..

Anonymous said...

Why must I b exiled from d sunshine of His presence ?

Anonymous said...

Why did he burst my bubble ? Does he think I am an automation? A machine without feelings? I worry about whether I am even worthy enough of his charms...maybe I am not what he needs. What stops him from paying attention to my entreaties, I know not. Has become so distant...Some sort of validation to show that he too had feelings.. what had I done wrong? I had thought I was playing by d book. Followed d rules laid down by him. Still.. my years of dreams & months of waiting can't be wrong..why? Why? Why? D greatest punishment God can invent for me is to keep me away from him.. "If u love until it hurts, it doesn't hurt anymore" Mother Teresa. I've endured v.v.bitter misery, can afford to suffer anything hereafter.. In what have I wronged him to warrant this appalling hatered ? Such abhorrence ! He has a wondrous constancy to old attachments. Never took an aversion to me... I hate him to b flogged, what is he sulky for? Has he banished me from his thoughts, is he vexed at my bad humour. Am a confounded simpleton. I puzzle my brain how to put more heart into what he did not say.. It wounds my vanity, feel awkward, ugly & unloved...do people forget those whom fortune forsakes ? He is a pearl containing oyster... please Lord let things b back to normal. I keep him branded in my thoughts...I hold on to d memories..

Anonymous said...

Note to self : who would want to take an old model of a cellphone when a brand new one is available ? If u could have anyone u wanted, why would u pick d one who was already stale ? Is it d end of my impassioned dream ? Why does he want to clip d wings of my love, he's d one who taught me to flap my wings.. follow yr passion:he said... is it time I descended from my ivory tower & get over my sentimental self-indulgence. No point in yearning for a past that, I have my doubts, will ever return... he was never this self-contained.. wish he could give me a chance for 'my turn' .... He is a v. Big man now..there are pages & pages of him when u Google search ..facts that even i didn't know about him. Super rich...Travels business class,. stays in nothing less than 5/7 star property..what am I to him... just a plain Jane... "what could we talk about when we met" ??????

Anonymous said...

Why is suffering more real than joy or pleasure ? Jalne mien kya maza hai parwane jante hai.. Now I see no bad. D sarcasm & harshness that had startled me once were only like keen condiments in a choice dish : their presence was pungent but their absence would b felt as comparatively insipid. Haan ek kasak zaroor satati rahegi har pal.. my maiden voyage just like Titanic.. Now that he decides to put d final nail in d coffin of our relationship..... May He always have his pick of d best & choicest of women. My unshakeable faith in him remains as ever....how I love him...

Anonymous said...

Am not in d habit of telling a lie nor am a promise breaker... every square inch of my body craves for his attention.. waise to am charged all d time but last 4 months have been so horny... roam around like a ghayal sherni.. had done so much preparation for him..my feet..never been so soft...all in vain...Have enhanced my knowledge about d act after reading a book..want to give him every pleasure d world... not d frenzy kind..this time soft, tender, gentle...let him take all his time... there is no alternative (TINA factor) Lord give me strength & patience..

Anonymous said...

What God knows about me is more important than what others think about me.. who is being judgemental God ??

Anonymous said...

A snippet of information - had turned namby-pamby temporarily (5 days) no more snivelling. Sod's Law.. my harmones play havoc at times.. life's good.

Anonymous said...

How can a man full of himself, focussed on his own needs & incapable of loving anyone but himself, b a good husband material.? Has a grandiose sense of himself..never accepting his fault..years of foul language... Is it d fallout of my over protective upbringing ? I grew up a doubting Jane.., for those educated in convent schools, we were warned to b wary.. fed on a diet of impossible romance..

Anonymous said...

Sometimes u have to shut up, swallow yr pride & accept that u are wrong/odd (physically).. it's not giving up, it's growing up..& growing old with it.. have lived with ugly duckling syndrome ..u cannot make yrself feel something u do not feel, but u can make yrself do right inspite of yr feelings...

Anonymous said...

Reminds one of Robert Browning's lines about d two aspects of every man : God be thanked, d charmest of his creatures, boasts two soul-sides, one to face world with, one to show a woman when he loves her.. ..... ..... Ditthey sabhey thaon, na dittha koi tujh jeha...

Anonymous said...

I maybe d black sheep of d family, but some of d white sheep aren't as white as they appear..

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it sounds boring & dull, but I find that nostalgia is to b savoured like good wine, drop by drop... Memories both good & bad can b equally enjoyed. D bad moments are particularly encouraging because ultimately d lesson is that we survived them !

Anonymous said...

To be or not to be - whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer...or take arms against a sea of troubles ? .. .. ... I shall overcome someday.., deep in my heart I do believe....

Anonymous said...

A man has to be understanding & put his wife before himself. Marriage is a test of our strength & weakness. "Teach not thy lips such scorn, for it was made for kissing."-William Shakespeare... For God hath not given us d spirit of fear, but of power & of love & of a sound mind...

Anonymous said...

A man has to be understanding & put his wife before himself. Marriage is a test of our strength & weakness. "Teach not thy lips such scorn, for it was made for kissing."-William Shakespeare... For God hath not given us d spirit of fear, but of power & of love & of a sound mind...

Anonymous said...

Women tire of marriage faster than men because women invest far more into making the relationship work...... Men get comfortable in a relationship & forget that women need romance....

Anonymous said...

It may be easy to walk out of a marriage, but it's v tough to live with the consequences. There is a lot to be said for having someone to grow old with. As life moves on and we mature,... you do need that one person to belong to, someone to come home to, someone to share your silence with, a hand holding buddy.. But a marriage is indeed dead if it cannot give you comforts of trusted companionship.. Hat's off to our parent's generation... celebrating golden jubilee.. few are lucky...

Anonymous said...

Don't mean to sound zen but once in a while you need to LAT (living apart together) .. Trust me, it gives space & allows you to indulge in activities that you may not otherwise do together.. live out all of your secret fantasies. Let the sparks fly, that'll add some edge to an otherwise predictable relationship. You'll get along fabulously even turbulent times... ... Oscar Wilde -"One should always be in love. That is the reason one should never marry."-- for Why God created Eve : Adam needed someone to blame for the Apple incident, & for anything else that was really his fault...

Anonymous said...

Why does a firm/company send its employees to Bang-cock?? Minus the spouse/family !! Men keep changing their job & end up their & term it 'off-sight'.... A woman can be so stupid, silly & idiot (talking about myself).. believes the rubbish her husband says at face value (fourth time in eight years...)

Anonymous said...

At times like this I hate my body and curse myself. La Senza : she discovered new ways of *@#$*@#$*#$@ : Kindly ELABORATE...

Anonymous said...

Equality is a duet, not a solo! A truly equal world would be one where men ran half our homes. A man may work from dawn to dusk, but a woman's work is never done. The women work hard at keeping their home fires burning.. A man is applauded for being ambitious & powerful & successful. Female accomplishments come at a cost... One needs to remember that in the quest to enjoy life to the fullest, one shouldn't hurt the emotional well-being of the other...

Anonymous said...

This platform turns out to be my ranting diary. Because most of the time I don't want to fight it out. It's sad that I have gotten to that stage, but that's how it is for most people with physical limitations... The monologue is my way of putting all that stuff, that bubbles inside me.

Anonymous said...

Men are thinking about 'having it all'.. bourgeois attitude.. .. women are worried about losing it all -- their jobs, their children's health, their families' financial stability.. Are there characteristics inherent in sex differences that make women more nurturing & men more assertive ? There is far more to life than climbing a career ladder, including raising children, seeking personal fulfillment, contributing to society & improving the lives of others. At times, integrating professional & personal aspirations proves far more challenging than I had imagined...two full-time jobs..

Anonymous said...

Men are thinking about 'having it all'.. bourgeois attitude.. .. women are worried about losing it all -- their jobs, their children's health, their families' financial stability.. Are there characteristics inherent in sex differences that make women more nurturing & men more assertive ? There is far more to life than climbing a career ladder, including raising children, seeking personal fulfillment, contributing to society & improving the lives of others. At times, integrating professional & personal aspirations proves far more challenging than I had imagined...two full-time jobs..

Anonymous said...

A worry shared is a worry halved... Both pleasure & pain are integral part of life. We cannot always choose pleasure & escape pain..

Anonymous said...

A lack of confidence can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I could never have connected the dots from where I started to where I am today. Back then, technology & I did not not exactly have a great relationship. Being unsure about how to proceed ... Asking for input is not a sign of weakness but often the first step to finding a path forward... We need to talk & listen, debate & refute, instruct & learn each day & evolve...

Anonymous said...

When i had nothing to lose, i had everything. When i stopped being who i am, i found myself... Is the art of sex, the art of controlled abandon ? If you live your life intensely, you experience pleasure all the time and don't feel the need for sex. When you have sex, it's out of a sense of abundance, because the glass of wine is so full that it overflows naturally, because it is inevitable, because you are responding to the call of life, because at that moment you have allowed yourself to lose control..

Anonymous said...

P.S. I have just re-read what i wrote. Good grief ! I'm getting way too intellectual !

Anonymous said...

P.S. I have just re-read what i wrote. Good grief ! I'm getting way too intellectual ! Each day i choose the truth by which i try to live. I try to be practical, efficient, professional. But i would like to be able always to choose desire as my companion. Not out of obligation, not to lessen my loneliness, but because it is good. Yes, very good. Each human being experiences his or her own desire; it is part of our personal treasure. It is an emotion chosen by my soul.. Am two women : one wants to have all the joy, passion and adventure that life can give me. The other wants to be a slave to routine, to family life.. Both of us living in the same body and doing battle with each other..

Anonymous said...

Is it unnatural to desire someone else ? After all, it's a long life to go through and be expected never to want another man... It's just not that easy to get over someone you've wanted for years... Absence makes the heart go ..... The wish to repeat Happy Moments...

Anonymous said...

Dear me ! What do i do.. HELP...

Anonymous said...

It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages...

Anonymous said...

Why do men feel that women might go "astray".... There is a universal desire of families to control the sexuality of young girls.. Women suffer from the tyranny of low expectations and stereotypes. There's nothing worse than working and not being counted for it..

Anonymous said...

It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages... Can feel something previous and irretrievable dying inside me each day..

Anonymous said...

Front page headlines 'Man divorces wife for seeking excessive sex' -- What if a woman is deprived of carnal pleasures ? Will the result be the same ? What happens if the woman doesn't feel fulfilled ? And still has to succumb to his pressure...that force that pain she has to quielty endure for years and dare she speak. She's had it then. All hell breaks lose.. What about her emotions ? That's what is called Marital bliss ? It's a Man's World afterall.... Cruel ironies of fate... It gives the woman an opportunity to do something without anybody getting to know about it. It's my own private limitless voyeuristic pleasure.. Is it 'un cool' ?

Anonymous said...

In a relationship you can keep giving and getting nothing in return - and finally you have given so much that all that's left is a hollow ! Turns a person into a wreck, unable to adopt a positive approach.. Insidiously the relationship is eating into your innards, preventing growth.. Some differences of opinion is healthy, but constant bickering and pulling the other down ? Does the others viewpoint have no value ? No respect ? Feel so left out .... All along a one-sided relationship... The last bit I have best save for myself, be it my dignity, my self- respect...

Anonymous said...

I hate myself for my complete lack of willpower. Every time I allow this to happen, a part of my self- confidence dies.. Who knows better about suffering than Gandhiji ? Frustrations are suppressed too ? But I need to feel good even if it makes me feel terrible.. Miss that hug, a warm hug before we parted, an embrace, with a complete lack of sleaze. That hug. He hugged me with such genuine affection.. .... My logic melts... The image of him gallantly holding open the door for me keeps coming back to my mind.. That day was really the high point in my life.. That bond... That companionship... I don't know what to believe anymore..

Anonymous said...

Don't know why i wrote all this... But I had to let it out off my system... Am at peace now. Finally...

Anonymous said...

More domestic violence happens at this time of the year.., so there must be some truth to the saying, 'Peace on Earth, Goodwill towards Men.'

Anonymous said...

For some.. sex is more exciting on the screen and between the pages than between the sheets.

Anonymous said...

All I'd feel was a relief to be done with it, to be free to drift away and forget, at least for a while, about the futilely of what we'd done...on those rare nights too, we'd each roll to our side of the bed and let our own savior take us away. His gadgets. Mine, as always, was a book...