Movie review: 'The Lunchbox' is about a dabba that fetches up at the wrong table

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The Lunchbox Review: It's hard to take your eyes off Irrfan when he is in full flow, but Nawazuddin demands attention in his own right. (Poster) The Lunchbox Review: It's hard to take your eyes off Irrfan when he is in full flow, but Nawazuddin demands attention in his own right. (Poster)
SummaryIt's hard to take your eyes off Irrfan when he is in full flow, but Nawazuddin demands attention in his own right.

wares, starting to come alive again. In his home, cluttered with old memories. Only once, when he is leaning against the balcony, and we see him from behind, does he forget his bent-by-life stance, and that's his only tiny misstep, which you notice only because the rest of it is pitch perfect. He sniffs the dabba's aroma, lets a slow smile build across his face, and we smile right back.

Nimrat Kaur is a find. Her Ila is so there, a real woman trying to find her happiness in the little things she does. A whisk of a wrist puts in mirch, haldi and sprinkles dhaniya, and when she hands the dabba to the man at the door, you know it's not just a steel container, but her beating heart. The hand-written notes that come back to her in the dabba, and the notes she writes in response, made me wistful, and hope good things happen to her.

And a side note on Nawazuddin, who is a side note in this winsome story on love and loss and longing, who comes through with a beautifully-calibrated act. Shaikh is an irritant, who keeps popping up to accost Saajan to get him to do things he, Saajan, doesn't want : Shaikh understands he is being blown off, and yet keeps his dignity intact. It's hard to take your eyes off Irrfan when he is in full flow, but Nawazuddin demands attention in his own right.

If it hadn't been for the occasional flatness, and a couple of predictable notes, there would have been no flaws in this dabba. I also found Ila's mother's (Lillete Dubey) segment, included solely to underline another kind of vacantness, a little forced. But these are tiny niggles in this film that gets the rest of it so right. Batra's characters are a delight. They may be of Mumbai, infused with intense desi flavours, but can inhabit any part of the world. You want to take them home, sit them down at your table, and savour them, one mouthful at a time.

(shubhra.gupta@expressindia.com)

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