With the flurry of praise and critical acclaim coming in for The Lunchbox, anyone who dares to speak a word against it will invite the wrath of the thinking moviegoers society. But After sitting through this approximately two hours long flick, I couldnt help but ask myself, Is it really worth the amount of praise that has been laden on it since its first promo was out. On my way down the stairs of the multiplex where I was catching the show, I tried my best to overhear some of the discussions happening between my fellow viewers. Some of the sentenses agreed totally with what i had in mind while some others were a tad bit extreme for my taste. So I kept asking myself what was it that spoiled such a sensational setup and why didnt it work for me the way it worked for the world out there ? In teh next few paras I am trying to put forward the exact experience of mine watching The Lunchbox and what didnt work for me. If you are a Lunchboxed then please donot bother to read on.
The Lunchbox is the story of two individuals Saajan Fernandez(Irrfan Khan) and Ila(Nimrat Kaur). Two individuals who are worlds apart. While Saajan is on the verge of retirement and has a replacement in the form of Shaikh(Nawazuddin Siddiqui) whome he has to train in the tricks and trade of his duty, Ila is trying hard to make way into her husband’s heart taking the route through his stomach. However a miraculous mistake in the otherwise faultfree Dabbawala delivery system of Mumbai, brings Ila and Sajaan together. As Lunchbox after Lunchbox of Indian delicacies are dished out, somewhere within the notes left behind by the two, love blossoms. Ila discovers that her husband is having an affair While Sajaan finds it difficult to make do with his senior citizen status. what is left to be seen is what happens of the duo.
The Lunchbox gets everything right for most of the part. The gradual blossoming of the love and the grounded reality of the exchanged notes is bound to get the audience hooked. At the interval point when Ila learns of her husband’s affair sets up the film wonderfully poising it for somethng great to come. The second half breezes on just as the first half and when the two decide to meet, the audience senses action but it is from this point onwards that the film takes a downward turn for me. The many following sequences leading to the climax are just unable to do anything novel or striking for the narrative. The film leaves off at a juncture from where it is very difficult to predict which way the two characters are headed even though there are clear indications that they are enroute to each other. A little more clarity in teh climax would have helped the film a great deal.
I have seen many films that tend to leave the narrative in places from where the story unfolds in the viewers mind but in case of The Lunchbox, it hasnt worked the way it should have simply because of the reason that we the audience were so engrossed in Ila and Sajaan’s story that we wanted a closure which unfortunately The Lunchbox doesnot provide. Having said that, the Lunchbox still remains an amusing watch for the most part. The prime reason for that apart from teh smart screenplay is teh champion performences. Irrfan Khan is at the pinnacle of his career and this is a time where he cannot get anything wrong. His portrayal of Sajaan is so shockingly real that after a while you actulally start taking him for the middle aged man that he is playing. His uneasiness about his retirement and his interactions with Shaikh are some of the highpoints of the film. Even though he never meets Ila personally, the scene where he lays eyes on her from a distance is sure to cajole up a flurry of emotions in the romantics.
Nimrat Kaur matches him scene for scene. She is totally believeable and the way she approaches her character speaks volumes about her. Nawazuddin Siddiqui in a short but piognant role is outstanding. He portrays a child like innocense and awicked sense of humor. The scene where he shares lunch with Irrfan Khan is bound to bring about big smiles. His final interaction with Irrfan is also noteworthy. The music of the film suits the mood and the cineamtography leaves nothing to complain.
The Lunchbox is a film which does almost everything right but then in a moment of rush gives it all up. It has been one of those experiences where I have enjoyed one hour fifty five minutes of a two hour film and then came out of the theater grumpy and complaining about the last five minutes of it. Contrary to what the whole world seems to think, The Lunchbox for me is a tad bit overrated. If this review is doing an expectation management for you than thats a good thing going into the film.