I’m forever muttering profanities at the absurdity Bollywood churns out. But after eons, a B-town flick has left me stuttering! I am at a complete loss for words and this I mean in a good way. The Lunchbox is one of those rare cinematic treats that will shush you into silence to make audible those tentative whispers emanating from your soul.
A slice-of-life film abounding with characters that could very well have been fleshed out from your ordinary universe and mine, it’s hard to believe that all it takes for a mundane existence to transform into a magical one is a teeny-weeny bit of conspiracy on the part of fate.
In his twilight zone, Saajan Fernandez is well aware he’s no Robert Pattinson 😆 His nights have none of the latter’s high-octane energy, typical of a lonely widower. He slogs his butt by day and flogs his butt by night outta sheer boredom 😆 He’s the kind of man who would love to abolish all holidays in the Indian calendar year, including Sundays! 😯 Just so that he can shine at work rather than whine to himself in his lonely home. Even Black and White have more color to them than the colorless life Saajan has taken to existing.
A steaming hot dabba spewing the most tempting of aromas falls from the heavens into his lap and color starts gobbling the starkness of his life. Turns out the source behind the life-altering lunches is Ila.
Ila’s plate seems to be more full than the dabba she inadvertently rustles up for Saajan. There’s a young daughter to nurture, an indifferent and possibly unfaithful husband to woo back and a million other thankless chores housewives around the world are expected to attend to. Ila sets out to knock on the firmly-shut doors of her husband’s heart through his stomach. Par daane daane pe likha hota hai khaane waale ka naam. In this case, Saajan’s. Conspiring with the Gods are Mumbai’s Lunch Gods, the Dabbawalas 😆 who make this happy ‘accident’ possible.
Quite uncharacteristically, the normally-restrained soul tucks in a quirky note of profuse thanks. It’s pretty symbolic that despite having people to talk to- her daughter, her husband, and a friendly soul for a neighbor, Ila should turn to the handwritten note to affirm her worth.
In a rather impersonal age of FB and Whatsapp, these two lonely fossils are more than happy to tuck intimate notes in a dabba- complimenting, criticizing, contradicting and consoling each other. An undefinable bond blossoms between the unseen protagonists. Is it love? Is it mere companionship? I couldn’t say for sure but it’s so damned pure, it seems almost utopian. They really should have modified the background song to ‘Tu KHAAshiq hai, main teri KHAAS CHICK(i)’ 😆 😆 😆
Bharati Achrekar as The VOICE and Nawazuddin as Shaikh are the finishing touches to an already perfect meal…or should I say lunch? If you watch closely, you’ll realize that everything in this rather ‘toned-down/ quiet’ film seems to do a lot of talking. Saajan’s monochromatic wardrobe is the perfect testament to his drab existence. Clean and neat, yet tired. Adjectives perfectly suited to their owner as well.
As the grumblings of the stomach transform to pleasurable rumblings, the austere demeanor takes a tumbling. Out come the cheques and a few colors that would delight the cockles of Govinda’s heart! 😆 The man is walking in the clouds a la Keanu Reeves. He now likes to punctuate the silences with whistling and humming and it’s that mental nick he suffers whilst shaving that sends him crashing down to earth. Could anything concrete come out of this tantalizing yet covert relationship? Does he have it in him to banish the blues from his life forever? Can he make a move that will send tumbling all the other pieces on the chessboard called life?
Ila finds silence cloying. So she must engage in loud conversation with an unseen neighbor even as the radio blares in the background. Yet, the most meaningful words ever said to her that have stirred her up like never before are on a piece of paper! Acknowledgement of her efforts, never mind that it’s from a stranger, fires her up to look better because the world finally seems to be getting better.
You really have to be attentive to catch these small things that catapult a film into greatness. And The Lunchbox is brimming with delights. It’s truly a feast for the senses. I’m unashamedly on my third helping and salivating for more 😛 You will be, too. Bon appetit then!
BELOW: A Feast Fit For a King? You bet!