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THE LUNCHBOX - An expressive, well performed film, smartly made on a borrowed theme. (Review By Bobby Sing)

21 Sep, 2013 | Movie Reviews / 2013 Releases / Inspired Movies (Alphabetical) / T

(Spoilers – The review reveals film’s basic storyline)
The appreciation showered upon this unusual but delicious LUNCH BOX all over and the well planned publicity campaign (turning it into a talk of the town in few weeks), did manage to cross the visible limitations of promoting such off-beat projects successfully. But the day I saw its first-look poster with a catchy tagline, featuring the lead stars sitting in vertically opposite positions (facing each other), it appeared to me as something, both seen and read before in some other projects. Still, the excitement was quite there due to its inviting star-cast and the film did manage to provide that expected creative satisfaction too, mainly due to its stellar performance and few innovative, well thought of insertions used brilliantly. So keeping the discussion on its inspirational sources for the last, let’s first talk about the exceptional merits of the film revolving around the wrong exchange of a LUNCH BOX by chance.
To begin with, this is not exactly a love story as widely publicized in its promos and posters. On the contrary it is a beautiful and expressive film on LONELINESS, experienced by various persons in their distinctive lives individually. And when a film dares to talk about those lonely moments of life so lovingly, then it is bound to touch every sensitive adult giving it a serious watch, since we all have felt that loneliness somewhere in our life, sooner or later. To give you a fair idea about all its interesting characters dealing with their own complexities of life alone……..,
 LUNCHBOX is a story of a loving housewife, who is being regularly ignored by his busy husband, probably due to an affair with another lady.
It’s about a lonely widower who is about to retire after 35 years of a single job and gets excited as he accidently gets in touch with an unknown housewife who is an excellent cook.
It’s about a grown-up orphan, who has an innocent smile and tries to learn every art of life alone with his own efforts.
And it talks about an old lady who is fed up of feeding and looking after her ailing husband single handedly, every day and night from years.
Now reading the above description it may sound like a depressing movie talking about all the gloomy days lived by its various characters on the screen as the sub-plots. But THE LUNCHBOX rises much above this negativity surrounding its entire proceedings and comes up as an extremely positive film with a single master stroke played by the director, of a voice without a face calling from the upper floor. And truly speaking, the whole film simply turns into an enjoyable tale, depicting the hard realities of life just because of this single insertion of Bharti Achrekar’s voice and her passion for music cassettes playing the hit track of SAAJAN and more from the floor above. Supporting these positive vibes, we have the ever smiling character of Nawazuddin too, providing those much needed lighter moments in the film to keep the memento going. But actually it’s that one invisible voice only, which certainly remains the most appreciable and innovative thought incorporated in the film directed by Ritesh Batra as his debut venture.
As expected, THE LUNCHBOX is a must watch for its powerful performances by Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur and Nawazuddin. But surprisingly the order of these worth watching acts is not the same, routine one as before. To be honest with their art, THE LUNCHBOX is more a Nawazuddin and Nimrat Kaur film than a Irrfan one. No doubt 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 trainee, followed by Nimrat Kaur, superbly playing the lonely housewife caught in a dilemma. The supporting cast featuring Nakul Vaid, Lillette Dubey and more are just fine. And so is the background score and cinematography of the film providing the desired realistic feel of our daily life impressively.
However despite the above praises, I would not be able to call it as an exceptional or near perfect film due to its few unfortunate shortcomings related to its length and the open climax. At around 109 minutes, THE LUNCHBOX goes beyond an acceptable length and becomes quite monotonous after the initial 20 minutes. Actually it can easily be called a short film of 60-70 minutes overstretched to an excessive length of 109 minutes resulting in some repetitive and forced in sequences (like the one of Nimrat’s parents). Secondly after playing it real well in a path breaking mode throughout, suddenly the film ends in an indecisive, confusing or inconclusive manner which just breaks the great momentum built leaving a sour taste. May be, both the monotonous sequences and the abrupt ending are kept to represent the real nature of life as it is (which is in fact repetitive as well as abrupt). Yet as a film, I strongly felt that it could have connected more with a different and enjoyable ending written with an unpredictable approach.
Therefore, YES as the representative of the new age cinema wave, THE LUNCHBOX is a must watch film, depicting ‘Loneliness’ in a positive way, rarely tried in our Hindi Cinema in the recent decades. But at the same time, its also not a masterpiece or a great path breaking film as being promoted. In reality, this is a more than a year old, unreleased project, which received wide appreciation in the festival circuits, waiting for a buyer. And probably it was only after seeing the success of SHIP OF THESEUS that the corporate production houses sighted this new arena of earning money (by promoting small budget films made on an off-beat subject) that they took THE LUNCHBOX and it got a decent release all over.
Now looking at the present scenario its indeed a tricky and debatable situation when Corporates acquire the rights of such thoughtful projects and then try selling them in the multiplexes at very high priced tickets by creating an overhype around them as per their known style. At one end it can be argued that at least they are making these films available for the willing audience in the theaters. But on the other, is it right to first create an undeserving hype around them in the media and then try showing such off-beat projects only in the high end multiplexes on some steep prices.
Taking the same thought further, Isn’t this biased practice going to make these unique films available only for the richer and elite section of the audience (who can easily afford the high prices multiplex tickets)? Or Are we assuming that the lower and middle class people of our country don’t have the intelligence, the mindset or willingness to watch such meaningful ventures in the theaters? Anyway keeping this subject open for further discussion in the comments, I would like to mention the inspirational sources of this LUNCH BOX as stated in the beginning of the review in the following points:
1. Firstly the poster of the film with the vertically opposite photos of its two lead characters seems to be highly inspired from one of the posters of film LOOPER (2012). And you can have a check by clicking at the link given.
2. Secondly the basic theme of the movie, wherein two strangers fall in love (without seeing each other), through their exchange of letters only, is not a novel or original one, since it has already been used more than once in English as well as Hindi movies stated below.
(In English)
THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER (1940) - Exchange through postal letters.
IN THE GOOD OLD SUMMERTIME (1949) (Remake) – Exchange through letters & Post office.
YOU’VE GOT MAIL (1998) (Remake) – Exchange through E-mails sent from different names.
(In Hindi)
SIRF TUM (1999), NA TUM JANO NA HUM (2002), MITR MY FRIEND (2002) – All inspired from the “You’ve Got Mail” (1998) syndrome and the same reference was also there in MUJHSE FRAANDSHIP KAROGE (2011).
Interestingly, what the writer & director of THE LUNCHBOX have done in their script is that they have beautifully mixed the borrowed theme of ‘Exchange of Letters Between Strangers’ with the Indian proverb ‘A Way To The Man’s Heart Is Through His Stomach’, introducing the lunch box in their plot quite smartly. So here we have the letters not coming through any post office or e-mail portal but inside a lunch box wrongly delivered to a different person who is just passing through a changing phase of his lonely life. Further they have used two triumph cards to reach the niche festival audience in the world over and they are “A feeling of loneliness” subtly depicted throughout the film and the insertion of “Mumbai Dabbawalas” who have already got a global fame for their management skills and undying spirit of doing it right.
Summing it all, due to an inspired subject, long length and unclear ending, I would not be able to rate THE LUNCHBOX as higher as compared to the other reviewers. Still it undeniably remains a must watch movie for sure for its fabulous performances and for that one strong voice full of positivity from the above, which has no visible face like the Supreme Power.
Rating : 3.5 / 5
(Note : As a suggestion, if you really wish to see a masterpiece of Indian Cinema on the subject of Loneliness then essentially watch Vijaya Mehta’s PESTONJEE (1988) and give yourself a visual treat.)

Tags : Lunch Box Review By Bobby Sing, Lunch Box Movie Review By Bobby Sing, Movie Review at bobbytalkscinema.com, New Hindi Films Reviews By Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com, Bollywood Movies Reviews at bobbytalkscinema.com, Bobby Sing Bollywood Reviews, New Bollywood Movies Reviews, New Bollywood Movies Released, New Hindi Films Reviews, New Hindi Movies Reviews, New Hindi Movies Released, New Bollywood Reviews, Bobby Talks Cinema Review, Reviews By Bobby Sing, New Hindi Films Reviews at bobbytalks
21 Sep 2013 / Comments ( 12 )
Robin Chawla

Hmmm... Told u i should have waited for ur review because last nite i watched this movie and believe me i was dissatisfied with the movie...not because its bad but so long and the end is irritating... Y open end Y Y Y....

Yes i didnot enjoyed it that much just because i have so so much expectations from it because those renowned reviewers of india give this 4.5 or even 5/5.

On the other side if i were gone with a neutral mind... This would be a treat for me as movie is a great showcase of feeling of loneliness.. And great performances. Just love nimrat kaur as the middle class house wife anf nawazzudin is natural as always.

So pls bobby bhaji dont delay ur reviews.... Hehehe...!

Bobby Sing

Thanks for your loving response Robin and I would sure try to post the reviews at the earliest always..so Keep Visiting and Writing In!


Camaal Mustafa Sikander

Nothing great about this review because it is superb as usual!

Bobby Sing

Dear Camaal,
The first few words of your comment really scared me, but then I got a sigh of releif reading it further.
Thanks a lot for your appreciationg and Keep Visiting.


raghu narayan

Bobby ji..appreciate the review, I would like to add a point, generally in Hollywood we observe this trend of poster designing where you can easily predict the movie theme, check this link for your reference http://www.buzzfeed.com/pauljamez/15-common-movie-poster-themes-2kjh

so maybe it\'s the movie maker\'s way of showing two ends of a connecting link!

Bobby Sing

Thanks a lot for the valuable link Raghu Narayan and yes it does gives you a broader vision on the same concept posters.
But still the first one using the idea needs to be given the credit of atleast inspiring the trend.

Anyway I am still sudying them all from the last night...so thanks once again for sharing it.

Poornima Shandilya

Hello Bobby, Yes, I agree with you that Nawazuddin Siddiqui is the one who shines out brilliantly.In all his varied roles in different films, he has acted remarkably. By the way, do you remember, how natural he was in \'Bombay Talkies\'. Your reviews are minutely and critically detailed. Keep up your objectivity and make good use of this God\'s gift to you bestowed on you in the form of \'expression\'. With best wishes.
A regular visitor,
Poornima Shandilya.

Bobby Sing

Thanks for your kind wishes and appreciating words Poornima and thanks for being a regular visitor to the site too.
From my side I always try to give you my honest views on a film and remain truthful always.

Keep Writing in and be in touch,

Balbir Singh Sooch

Chaar Sahibzaade Becomes Highest Rated Film in History
A View by Balbir Singh Sooch-Sikh Vichar Manch

Filmmaker Harry Baweja says, it is an animation (movies the making of movies by filming a sequence of slightly varying drawings or models so that they appear to move and change when the sequence is shown-movies a movie or movies consisting of a series of drawn, painted, or modeled scenes- smooth and realistic animations-liveliness in the way somebody speaks or behaves) film.

Lightly to say that, The film is about the sacrifices of the four sons of Guru Gobind Singh ji (the tenth Guru of Sikhs) Baba Ajit Singh ji, Baba Jujhar Singh ji, Baba Zorawar Singh ji and Baba Fateh Singh Ji is not enough.

As I witnessed the place of sacrifice continuously for about more than 20 years, I expect more from the film, Chaar Sahibzaade from different angles as historically, socially, humanitarianly (somebody who believes in the philosophical theory of humanitarianism- somebody who seeks to improve the lives of other people), treacherously, and from the angle that such sacrifice never witnessed in history parallel to the sacrifice of four sons of Guru Gobind Singh ji.

To my mind, the place of sacrifice is worth of celebration collectively and no way place of sadness for all humanity including Sikhs as the place of sacrifice depicts and combination as the symbol of evil and truthfulness and the place of sacrifice has special status in the world required to be glorified more befittingly.

When I was touching all these aspects, expecting from the Chaar Sahibzaade Film, then I was advised innocently by someone yet not see the film as no Filmmaker shall like that audience should apply their mind about his film and see critically in this manner.

I accepted the advice religiously believing like the majority that Chaar Sahibzaade Becomes Highest Rated Film in History.

A View by Balbir Singh Sooch-Sikh Vichar Manch

Bobby Sing

Thanks for sharing your detailed commend Balbir Singh Ji.
But somehow you posted the comment below a different post.
It would have surely reached more if had been posted below the CHAAR SAHIBZAADE review.

Still thanks a lot and do keep visiting.

Bobbyji, enjoyed your review and yes agree with you that repeated scenes and such open ending left me disappointed with the movie and yes Bharati's voice was a really cool thing in the movie...
Bobby Sing

Thanks a lot for your supporting comment Purnima.
Keep Visiting and Writing in,

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