<b>BEYOND THE PAIL:</b>  Though on paper its story may seem bland, <i>The Lunchbox</i>, starring Irrfan (<i>Life of Pi</i>) Khan, is a feast of a film.

BEYOND THE PAIL: Though on paper its story may seem bland, The Lunchbox, starring Irrfan (Life of Pi) Khan, is a feast of a film.

Review: The Lunchbox

Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur, and Nawazuddin Siddiqui star in a film written and directed by Ritesh Batra.

Along with the many virtues that make The Lunchbox one of the great subtle delights of this cinema season, the film also gains considerable points by virtue of what it isn’t. Consider first-time writer-director Ritesh Batra’s refreshing, old-school antidote to the sins of a modern cinema scene increasingly beholden to the incursion of smartphoned angles and new twists on old romantic tropes — even in the case of the artistic triumph, Her, whose love story on parallel, non-physical love makes for an easy comparison. The Lunchbox takes its time and lures us into its humane, anti-sensational world, in a way rarely seen in theaters near us.

In this disciplined, carefully constructed film, built on a narrative made of the stuff of a good short story, the power of slow-mo romantic inklings are conveyed through actual, handwritten letters between fate-mingled strangers and the virtually aromatic interactions of making and sharing food. (Spoiler alert: This is one of those films which may tickle salivary glands and inspire visits to Indian restaurants.) The crazed bustle and seemingly dehumanizing daily life in Mumbai, conveyed through frequent congested scenes on trains and trams, contrasts the economical tale of a young wife/mother (Nimrat Kaur) whose elaborately made lunches in shiny metal tins, mistakenly delivered daily — via the famed dabbawalas’ well-oiled lunch delivery system — to a downtown urban clerical worker (Irrfan Khan, seen recently in Life of Pi). The plot thickens and gains hints of spice, to just the right savory degrees, to borrow apt epicurean references.

However dry the story might seem on paper, The Lunchbox is a surprisingly engaging film drawn from an almost-minimalist plot machinery, notable for what it leaves to the teased imagination. We never see our protagonist’s auntie upstairs, although she is a strong and recurring presence, and we learn of her husband’s philandering only through sniffed shirts in the laundry. Reflections on marriage and mortality sneak in from the corners of the story, often through the side plot of the worker’s eager and respectful young replacement (Nawazuddin Siddiqui). More importantly, the long-distance slow dance of secret epistles and emotional sharing coheres into a precious, beautifully proportioned little feast of a film, delivered hot and fresh to our unsuspecting senses.

For showtimes, check the Independent's movie listings, here.

To submit a comment on this article, email or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email

Be succinct, constructive, and relevant to the story. Leaving a comment means you agree to our Discussion Guidelines. We like civilized discourse. We don't like spam, lying, profanity, harassment or personal attacks.

comments powered by Disqus
event calendar sponsored by:
This Week's Issue

Vampire Weekend Plays for 805Undocufund This Weekend

Will match up to $10,000 in donations for Libbey Bowl concert.

Immigration Raids Chill Santa Barbara County Community

A quiet has settled over Old Town Goleta after at least five people were grabbed by ICE ...

Seasoned Bandit’ Said to Suffer the ‘Lottery Curse’

Tip led to bank robber James Hayes, who'd hit four Santa Barbara County banks, and six others.

FEMA Reveals New Map for Montecito, Carpinteria Valley

Property owners wishing to rebuild must avoid flooding from 100-year storms.

Alleged Apple Thief Pursued

Man accused of using a stolen credit card to buy thousands of dollars' worth of computer goods.