We’ve all heard the phrase, “A way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” I’d argue that this applies to anyone with a great appetite for delicious food, myself included! There is a new Indian film very recently released in the U.S. that uses this idea as a starting point for a blossoming love story. Ritesh Batra’s “The Lunchbox” was initially screened at the International Critics’ Week at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival and had already aired in India several months ago. It stars Nimrat Kaur and one of my favorite Indian actors, Iirfan Khan, well known in North America for his roles in “The Namesake” and “Life of Pi.” He always lends a quiet grace to the characters he plays, infusing their stories with something deeper than his simple (but often beautiful) dialogue.
In this NPR interview with Khan, it appears that he initially embarked on a documentary of the dubbawallas who deliver tiffins of lunch from housewives to their husbands in their offices every single day. This is quite a custom in India, with millions of deliveries made each day. Despite the chaotic nature of city life there, the statistics reveal that a mistake is made extremely rarely. Khan became entranced by the varied tales of the dubbawallas and set the documentary aside to tell this unique story, very unlike the usual big-screen Bollywood romances. It earned success in India despite its lack of large-scale song and dance routines; this is quite surprising but pleasant to know that the taste for film quality is changing. Don’t get me wrong — I like a good epic Bollywood movie every now and then, but I tend to lean more to the piercing artistry of such films as “Dhobi Ghat,” “Taare Zameen Par” (which I’ve written about before), “Udaan,” “Monsoon Wedding,” and “Water.”
I am excited to watch this film and hope it earns great success here as well!