Imagine an intimate multi course meal. The premise of the taste provided by a subtle soup. The appetite increases with a delicious appetizer. The bitter sweetness of the greens. The softness and comfort of fine dinner rolls. The whiff of romance like a fragrant lasagna. The subtlety yet spiciness of the sauce. The wholeness and simplicity of roasted garlic. The sweetness of smooth cheesecake.
The dinner takes hours to pour over helping after helping. Such is the pace of The Lunchbox, my second Indie Film in the series. Their simple story begins with a small mistake of the most efficient lunch delivery service in the world and leaves you to make your own assumptions like a meal without desert.
This isn’t exactly the Bollywood romance I had longed for. On the contrary, it’s an expressive film on loneliness. Its essence is mostly that of a short story which brings forth questions such as: Would you fall in love with someone you never met? Breaking the barriers of age and how the society would look at it. And also, is love merely a form of escape from stark realities, such as that of a bored housewife and an aged widower who both have issues as to how life turned about to be for them?
The three leads do give strong performances. Irrfan puts up a great show playing the lead role of an aging old man, especially in the scene talking about that odd smell in his bathroom. Yet the show stealer here remains Nawazuddin as the orphan trainee, followed by Nimrat Kaur, superbly playing the lonely housewife caught in a dilemma.
I’m just not able to call it an exceptional film due to its few unfortunate shortcomings, mainly the pacing and unoriginal story of the film. I felt The Lunchbox went well beyond an acceptable length and becomes quite monotonous after the first 30 minutes. Actually it could have easily been a good short film of 60-70 minutes, but it was stretched to an excessive length of 109 minutes resulting in some repetitive and forced sequences. Then suddenly the film ends in an inconclusive manner which leaves the viewer unsatisfied. Even the basic theme of the movie was not novel, or even original since it has already been done more than once in both “The Shop Around the Corner” and “You’ve Got Mail.”
If you are interested in a sweet, quiet Hindi movie you would enjoy The Lunchbox. Just keep in mind that it’s not the masterpiece being promoted.