The Lunchbox - Review

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After a certain stage in a relationship, most likely, there is comfort or stagnancy. In either case, you need an extra spark, something to look forward to. The apprehension; the spring in the step; the glint in the eye that a new relationship brings - that's what The Lunchbox is about. And more.

Like any other relationship, Ila-Fernandes relationship is as much about the two individuals as it is about the relationship itself. Sure, the chemistry builds up beautifully, without one setting an eye on the other. But, their personal insecurities, frustrations is what makes The Lunchbox stand apart from most other films.

Moreover, the whole package is breathtakingly simple. The one-line plot, the characters, the ambiance, the situations, the humor would make even the most city-bred in the audience believe that a middle-class world like this exists, as much as it ever did, even today.

The one-liner "what if" - what if the well-known lunchbox system went wrong one day and put two lonely souls in touch with each other? How fascinating an idea! Of the thousands of possibilities, the one writer/director Ritesh Batra picks is as charmingly old-school as it gets.

The characters he picks to put together are mere faces in the crowd of 20 million. Ordinary, uninteresting - most likely, you and me. The side characters, including the neighbor oldie (Bharti Achrekar) you don't see, are given quirks that are thoroughly enjoyable, even if not real.

You don't root for any of the characters, you just play along and are willing to go wherever the story takes you. There is no arc. There is no significant peak in the story. The simple progress of conversations between Ila and Fernandez is enough to keep you going. Each one is special; just like each conversation of a budding relationship is dear.

Yet, none of it, not a thing would've been acceptable if it weren't for Irrfan Khan and Nimrat Kaur. Let alone the slightest show of spark or disappointment in their eyes, the variation in the tone for their voice-overs is enough to inspire awe. Nawazuddin Siddiqui is a charmer as always.

The most obvious character in the film is one I am biased towards - Mumbai. Any film that reminds me of the sights, the smells, the energy of that city has won me over in the first scene. In complete contrast to this buzzing city is, ever so slow-paced, The Lunchbox. A beautiful contrast which could get to you if you are waiting for something to happen.

So, depending on your make and what you seek in your films, the climax can be exhilarating or underwhelming. I was bang in between, even though I cannot see a more fitting end to the film. That's what will make or break the film for you.

- meeta, a part of the audience

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: None.
  • Language: Clean.
  • Nudity & Sexual content: None.
  • Concept: What if two people who don't know each other started exchanging letters?
  • General Look and Feel: Simple, charming, as earthy as a city like Mumbai can get.

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

  • Direction: 4.5
  • Story: 4.5
  • Lead Actors: 5
  • Character Artists: 4.5
  • Dialogues: 4.5
  • Screenplay: 3.5
  • Music Director:
  • Lyrics:

The Lunchbox - Movie Details

The Lunchbox - Trailer

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Comments (28)

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Anup :

irfan and nawazudin,,,,together in a single film,,,,this is something i cant miss.......


The premise of the film is impossible in real life. Mumbai dabbawala's quality is regularly cited as being of 6 sigma. In that case, every day delivering a wrong dabba is a massive error rate, impossible to happen.


Please take my post in a lighter vein.


I had a litl difficulty in watching this one,,,,non of my frnd was agreed to go with me for this film,,,,atlast one of my frnd agreed,,,,rest of them are busy with PPNH....And that one frnd , after the movies ends says thanks to me to bring him to the theater to watch THE LUNCHBOX....
No doubt the theater was empty,,,not much of the persons are interested in this one,,,,but that thing doesnt bother me much,,,,i cant miss a movie in which irfan and sidique are together in it (although a movie with nana patekar and irfan khan would be a dream movie for me)....
Irfan ’s character was so cute,,,,doesnt speak much,,,,say just when needed,,,,in opposite sidique was irritating at the begining burt after some time u start to like him,,,,nimrat kaur is a find for bollywood,,,,she will definatly get more movies to do in bollywood,,,,she does the character of normal house wife so close to reality....
The cute humour is very good,,,,the song from the movie sajan was delite,,,,just some flat segments and the story of ila’s parents bother me a litl....But m satisfied....
This one could be a very good choich for india to send to oscars....


Lonely hapless man suddenly intrigued by a mis delivered lunch box. The quest to find this unknown person was an intresting premise . Love takes place unexpectedly and the film dwells it beautifuly. Characters are well written and performed with grace , the neighbour aunty whose identity is never reavled was d best . Overall the movie is good but lack of any dramatic confrontation and its over simplistic approach, fails to generate awe and remains being a simple romantic story.


Big Bollywood production houses are cashing into "intellectual" feeling by bank rolling such films and smartly doing the marketing to give the feeling to pseudo intellectuals that they are being served a lavish lunch. And pseudo intellectuals are lapping it up.

Has anyone seen the creativity of big Bollywood production houses, starts with plagiarising Hollywood films, and ends with that.

Same case for intellectual stuff. Rehash of hollywood's You Have Got Mail. But intellectuals would still lap it up as great alternate stuff.

Bollywood production houses have realised that rope in an Anurag (be it Basu or Kashyap) throw in a few names. Like Irrfan or Nawazuddin orShabana or Tabu - and ho presto a magic recipe of success for dumb intellectuals who would take it no questions asked.

Read guddu's realistic review above to realise what a low quality lunch has been dished out.

Food for thought for all intellectuals.


If you’re in the mood to witness genuinely moving cinema, you’re in for a treat. The delectable taste of this lunchbox remains in your mouth much after you’ve left the theatre. Go for it!


Just because its an epistolary film, it doesn't mean that it is a rehash of YGM... besides YGM itself was a rehash of Shop Around the Corner (1940)...

Besides, I don't think any serious cinephile would put Basu and Kashyap in the same level...

One doesn't have to rant for the sake of ranting...


@Anup Yeah, there are a few slack times but somehow I liked those too.

@Fan Well, they have tried to explain that bit. Also, like I said, like with all stories, this is a 'what if'.

Also, every movie is a rehash of some other movie. There is no end to that. Expecting every film to be absolutely unique in its plot is a little unfair. What I try to see is if the details of how they get the story across works for me.

@guddu My guess is they didn't want to inspire awe. They intentionally kept it simple. Yes, it might seem flat because of that, but that is the risk they took which worked in this case, for some of us :D

@Jitaditya :)

Suman Chakraborty:

Direction: 3.5
Story: 3
Lead Actors: 5
Character Artists: 3

Dialogues: 3.5
Screenplay: 2.5


I am the kind who likes non-commercial cinema. This one, however, was very depressing.

WARNING: Don't watch it empty stomach. Don't watch it alone. Don't watch if you are in a bad mood.


Meetu, I agree with everything in your review except the overall grading where I feel you have been unfair to this little gem of a film. Should have been 'watch it already'! But, I suppose,that's your prerogative.
'Dumb Intellectual' that I am, it's been ages since I enjoyed a more fulfilling cinematic experience.


This "fan" guy is the complete opposite of the hypocritical critics like Fadnavis and Raja Sen who cannot have enough of fanboying their Hollywood masters and criticizing any commercial Indian venture just for the heck of it! The only thing common between "fan" and Fadnavis (& co) is that they're all Hollywood slaveboys,without realizing the fact that 90% of American films too are "inspired" from cinema around the world.

P.S. : I'd rather be a "dumb intellect" then an cinematic illiterate,ignorant idiot!

Nishant Wadhwa:

Had gone to see this today. Paid the full weekend price for this and I am not disappointed. Its a simple two line story but definitely worth a watch.


@suman :)

@Rohit It is kinda sorta sad, isn't it?

@Samir and @Anuj I don't understand this whole intellectual non-intellectual business, especially in movie watching. Either you like a film or you don't. You might like it because it is intelligent or not. But how does that make the viewer intelligent or not?

@Nishant Great!


Everywhere the movie is lauded, and Meetu gives good review but under-rates. Meetu is wrong again, I think! I see the movie. Its good - but Meetu's rating is perfect.

It looks to me - that those people who have loved this movie are without true LOVE or without good CINEMA, and when they see something little good - they jump on it with all praise! Added to that the Dharma (Karan Johar) and Anurag Kashyap, UTV - and many others' media contacts have given an over-rating to a good movie.

Well done Meetu, at least I agree with you! Otherwise you might always think, Raj's comments means always finding some fault in my review. NO. You are SPOT ON!


@Meetu : I think your statement should be directed towards self proclaimed cinematic geniuses like Mihir Fadnavis and Raja Sen. I completely agree with your statement but once glance at their reviews and you'd know their pseudo intellectuality and hypocrisy! Here is a sample,judge it for yourself


@Raj Well, you win some, you lose some :P

@Anuj Hmmm...I don't know. I take it as that's what "he" thinks. Nothing more, nothing less.


@Meetu : Here are a few excerpts from his "Madras Cafe" review. Read them and judge for yourself!

1.99.99% of the thrillers, especially the ‘political’ or ‘military’ ones made in India are either tacky, or jarringly commercialized or just plain turds. Madras Café is not a heap of horseshit like Tango Charlie. This is a genuinely slick, decently put together thriller, almost as good as the first half of D Day.

2.While it’s not a bad film, it isn’t an Oscar winner. It stumbles a lot of times as the narrative swings from taut to gripping to cringe inducing. It’s as if Shoojit vacillated between sticking to a non-commercialized gritty thriller and giving in to Bollywoodization to cater to the "mainstream dodos".


Now if that's not biased and judgemental to the extent of arrogance,then i dunno what is!


Perfect slap from FFI to the makers of lunchbox for their arrogant behaviour and insulting disgusting personal attacks. Here's the text of the letter that FFI wrote to those overrated producers. Totally agree with FFI, this is not a selection for best marketed film, it is a selection for best film. Read the full text:

Dear Ritesh Batra, We have been hearing and reading about your various unsavoury comments either through the film industry grapevine or through your Twitter / Facebook posts about the selection of The Good Road for Oscar. As a citizen of democratic country, you have every right to express yourself but when a certain boundary is crossed time and again; one cannot take it lying down. The letter seeks clarification from the presenters of 'The Lunchbox' about their Oscar related comments. Film Federation of India takes great umbrage at the was you have gone about demeaning a film when an eminent jury has selected it as India's entry. You might not agree with the selection, that's your prerogative. But to continuously and recklessly make comments and innuendoes about it is really not done..... Are you (and your producers...presenter etc.) suggesting that you seriously believe that no one in India is capable of making a better film? (better film mind you, not a better marketed film) There is no criteria in the Academy rules that suggested that the jury should keep the marketing angle in mind while selecting, their mandate is selecting the best film which they have done according to their convictions and judgement. You and the team have been stating time and again in various interactions in the media that once (note not 'if' but once!) Lunchbox is selected from India, you have been assured by Sony Classics that it will have a spectacular run in the Oscar! You in fact have even termed this selection of The Lunchbox from India as a mere technicality! Excuse me !!!! What we are very interested in knowing is how are you making such claims? How can Sony Classics assure you of any such thing? Are you suggesting that the Oscar is rigged? We are taking this matter up separately with the Academy... we are lead to believe that you have a letter from Sony Classics which is the reason for your confidence... can you share it with us? We were maintaining a dignified silence till now amidst your constant ranting as we believed them to be the result of acute disappointment of a young boy with his debut film. Your presumptuous and dismissive comments without even seeing 'The Good Road' was highly objectionable but we let that pass. You will note that some member of the jury are icons in their own right with umpteen National Awards and some were felicitated to commemorate 100 years of Indian cinema. Yet you with just one film under your belt have openly scorned their choice and attribute it as 'lack of vision'!!! But what you have recently posted in you Facebook account about 'there being a corruption' in the process is a serious allegation. As you are aware, The Good Road is produced by NFDC, a Government of India undertaking! Are you then suggesting that the I & B Ministry ie The Government of India has made a successful attempt in bribing the jurors???... Very serious allegations indeed... we are taking up this matter with the I & B Ministry. Since you and some of your team members have expressed bafflement as to who the federation are, please allow me to explain. Film Federation of India is the apex film chamber of our country and we are celebrating our Diamond Jubilee this year. We have 42 film chamber from all over India as our constituents and are officially recognized by the I & B Ministry as the definitive film trade body. FFI is also internationally recognized and a member of FIAPF (Federation Internationale des Associations de Producteurs de Films), the regulatory body of all important film festivals of the world including Cannes. To conclude, we are expecting an unconditional apology from you all your derogatory remarks about the Federation and the Oscar jury. Supran Sen Secretary General Film Federation of India C.C. 1) M/s. UTV Software Communications Ltd. 1181/1182, Solitaire Corporate Park, Guru Hargovindji Marg, Chakala, Andheri (East), Mumbai - 400093 2) Dharma Productions Shop No. 29, Jains Arcade, 2nd Floor, 14th Road, Khar(West), Mumbai-400052. 3.) Mr. Anurag Kashyap M/S. Phantom Films

Abhay Patil:

Yours is my favorite review of the film - I would have written it exactly this way. Thank god we had a full lunch before the 1 PM show! Wonderful movie with Mumbai as the principal character. The image that stayed with me is of a dabbawala on his bicycle with a load of tiffins on a busy Mumbai road braving Monsoon showers in full fury. Irrfan Khan defines underplay and Nawazuddin shows how he can be the character to the bone. Nimrat Kaur is vulnerability personified and Bharti Achrekar emoting just through her voice is the quintessential Mumbaikarin.


@Abhay Patil Thank you! :)


After watching it i do agree its extremely over rated and nowhere near as good as being projected by the media!


Thanks Anuj for your honest opinion on lunchbox and daring to call out "Hey, the king is naked".

Several of my friends too saw it and had same surprised reaction as you, how could media hype up this lousy product? Apparently the film has no story whatsoever and is in a news channel type automatic rewind ad replay countless of times of same episode.

Big Bollywood money coupled with overhyped yet mediocre film units trying to cash in on gullible audiences. Only paradox is that such gullible audiences come from the upper social strata.

Looking at its business, it is even less than that of Besharam. The exhibitors made more money showing Besharam and probably even OUATIMD than thy made on this over marketed product.


@Fan really, now? We are comparing box-office collections of small-budget and high-budget films?


@Meetu: from an exhibitor's perspective the more tickets his single screen or multiplex generates the more she/he is happy. What's his incentive to show a film that few people in rich social circle whilst sipping on their expensive red wine say Hey I watched lunchbox, good stuff. The decision the exhibitor has to make is which film he should show to earn more living. Period.


Talking of Kashyaps and Lunchboxes generates too much emotional reaction. Let me make my point with a different analogy: smartphone.

Samsung and Apple smartphones are the most popular and most sought after. Even though technically and feature robustness wise a Nokia is several steps ahead of the Samsungs and Apples. But Nokia doesn't exist anymore, taken over by another firm as it was on the brink of commercial failure. Why and how could that happen despite a technically advanced product? Management gurus would give a reply.

Same analogy applies to lunchbox.


@Fan I am lost. Incidentally, I'm in the market to buy a not-too-fancy smart phone. And everyone who knows anything about phones tells me Nokia is no good. Don't get the analogy anyway.

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