The Lunchbox

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The Lunchbox
The Lunchbox poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Ritesh Batra
Produced by Arun Rangachari
Anurag Kashyap
Guneet Monga
Written by Ritesh Batra
Rutvik Oza[1]
Starring Irrfan Khan
Nimrat Kaur
Nawazuddin Siddiqui
Music by Max Richter
Cinematography Michael Simmonds
Editing by John F. Lyons
Studio DAR Motion Pictures
UTV Motion Pictures
Dharma Productions
Sikhya Entertainment
NFDC
Distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures (India)
Sony Pictures Classics (International)[2]
Release dates
  • 19 May 2013 (2013-05-19) (Cannes Film Festival)
  • 20 September 2013 (2013-09-20) (India)
Running time 105 minutes[3]
Country India
France[4]
Germany[4]
Language Hindi
English
Budget INR100 million (US$1.7 million)[5]
Box office INR200.9 million (US$3.4 million)
(3 weeks domestic net)[6]

The Lunchbox[7] is a 2013 Indian epistolary romantic film written and directed by Ritesh Batra, and produced by Guneet Monga, Anurag Kashyap, and Arun Rangachari. The film was jointly produced by various studios including DAR motion pictures, UTV Motion Pictures, Dharma Productions, Sikhya Entertainment, NFDC (India), ROH Films (Germany), ASAP Films (France), and the Cine Mosaic (United States).[8] It stars Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur and Nawazuddin Siddiqui in lead roles. The film was screened at International Critics' Week at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, and later won the Critics Week Viewers Choice Award also known as Grand Rail d'Or.[9] It was shown at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.[10] The film was released in India on 20 September 2013.[11] The film has done well at the box office.[12]

Plot synopsis[edit]

Saajan has been grieving since his wife died. Ila on the other hand wants to seek her husband's attention to rekindle their love and hopes to cook her way through her husband's heart. Through a rare mixup of the famous "dabbawalas" of Mumbai, the lunchbox with the delicious food Ila had prepared for her husband instead gets delivered to Saajan. Realizing the mistake of the delivery, she writes Saajan a note about it. Then unfolds an episode in their life in a series of compelling and sincere notes they exchange through the lunchbox. Soon, she finds out that her husband is having an affair and writes to Saajan about it, suggesting that she wants to move to Bhutan since the people there are known to be happy. Sajan contemplates moving with her and writes back asking if she will be ready to move to Bhutan with him. Ila writes back saying she would like to meet him first. They arrange to meet at a popular food joint, but Saajan doesn't turn up and a dejected Ila sends an empty lunchbox the next day. Saajan writes to her saying that he did arrive, but did not meet her because he considered himself to be too old for her and asks her to move on. Ila soon finds out the place where Saajan works and goes to meet him, but there she learns that Saajan had already quit the job by then and is headed to Nashik.

The movie comes to an end with Saajan returning from Nashik and going in search of Ila with the Dabbawalas song being played in the background.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

Ritesh Batra, who had made short films, The Morning Ritual, Gareeb Nawaz ki Taxi and Cafe Regular', 'Cairo, started researching for a documentary on the famous Lunchbox delivery system of Mumbai, dabbawala, known for their efficiency, however after spending a week with them in 2007, he got to know of many interesting personal stories they would overhear while waiting outside an apartment. This idea gave birth to the idea of the film, and instead of making the documentary he began writing a film script.[11][13] In time the film became joint production between Sikhya Entertainment, DAR motion pictures, National Film Development Corporation of India (NFDC), India, ROH Films, Germany, ASAP Films, France and the Cine Mosaic, US of Lydia Dean Pilcher who previously produced films like, The Talented Mr Ripley (1999) and The Namesake (2007), and Germany's Match Factory became its international sales agent.[5][8]

Writing[edit]

Batra completed the first draft of the screenplay in 2011,[13] it went on to win an Honorable Jury Mention at the 2012 Cinemart at the Rotterdam International Film Festival. Thereafter the project was part of the Talent Project Market of Berlin International Film Festival and was mentored at the screenwriter's lab (Torino Film Lab) at the Torino Film Festival.[5] The character of Ila played by Nimrat Kaur, six months prior to the shooting, and the character played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui was further developed and improvised during shooting,[13]

Casting[edit]

Irrfan Khan liked the script of the film and the concept of his character, not speaking much but talking through notes. After seeing Batra's short film and a couple of meetings he agreed to act in the film. Batra wanted to work with Nawazuddin Siddiqui, another principal character of the film, for a long time. For the female lead, auditions were conducted, wherein Nimrat Kaur was selected. Kaur had extensive experience at the Mumbai theatre and worked in films like Peddlers.[5][13] Some of the dabbawalas who the director befriended while researching for the film, also have been cast in minor roles.[11]

Filming[edit]

The film was shot in 2012 in Mumbai[13] at a budget of ₹100 million. Prior to the filming, the cast rehearsed for six months. It was shot using the Arri Alexa digital film camera.[5] Many of the scenes were logistically broken down to make way for last minute location changes. Mumbai's famous dabbawalas were provided actual lunchboxes to deliver, were followed by a four member film crew, which filmed the process in documentary style.[5]

Release and reception[edit]

Screenings and film festivals[edit]

The film was screened on 19 May 2013 as a part of the International Critics' Week at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, where it received a standing ovation and positive reviews.[14][15][16] and won the Critics Week Viewers Choice Award also known as Grand Rail d'Or.[17] Variety called it "a notable debut from tyro helmer-scripter", for creating a film with "crossover appeal of Monsoon Wedding", and also praised acting of Irrfan Khan and Nimrat Kaur.[8]

Thereafter, Sony Pictures Classics picked up all North American rights for distribution.[8]

In India, this film was released in more than 400 screens on 20 September 2013.[18][19][20]

Box office[edit]

The Lunchbox had a good start in first weekend in India, grossing Rs 70 million in first 3 days.[18][21][22][23] The film collected around Rs 110 million in first week.[24] The film continued to gross significant amounts over the next few weeks, earning over Rs 200 million in the first three weeks and another Rs 40-50 million in the fourth week.[25][6]

Critical reception[edit]

Upon release, The Lunchbox received widespread critical acclaim. The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a score of 95% based on reviews from 60 critics, with an average rating of 7.8/10. The site's consensus is: "Warm, affectionate, and sweet but not cloying, The Lunchbox is a clever crowd-pleaser from first-time director Ritesh Batra".[26]

The review aggregators: BollyMovieReviewz and Review Gang both mentioned that The Lunchbox received the highest aggregate score of any Indian film earning a 4.38/5 and a 8.5/10 respectively.[27][28] howis.co.in rated this movie 4.5 out of 5. The rating has calculated by average rating of all popular Bollywood critic websites ratings.[29]

Critic Rajeev Masand of CNN-IBN gave his first ever 5/5 rating to the film stating, "The greatest love stories are the ones that make you root for the protagonists to come together, despite their destinies. This film illustrates how love transforms the unlikeliest of people."[30] Pratim D. Gupta of The Telegraph gave two thumbs up to The Lunchbox calling it "as much a moving and muted love story as it is an evocative portrayal of loneliness."[31] Taran Adarsh of Bollywood Hungama gave the movie a 4/5 stating, "A well-told old-fashioned romance, The Lunchbox gracefully unknots the trials, tribulations, fears and hopes of everyday people sans the glamour that the city of Mumbai has become synonymous with."[32] Karan Anshuman of the MumbaiMirror also went with a perfect score of 5/5 saying the film was, "one of the best films to come out of India in a long time."[33]

Raja Sen of Rediff.com praised the film further, giving another perfect score of 5/5 and offered particular compliments to the director Ritesh Batra, stating "Batra, who has also written The Lunchbox, has allowed his smashing actors tremendous room to improvise, all the while himself sketching in nuanced details about the city, its food-ferriers, and the many disparities Mumbai is crammed with."[34] Filmmaker/critic Khalid Mohammed of the Deccan Chronicle saying "What stays in the mind at the end of 'The Lunchbox' is pretty much what stays in mind at the end of a memorable set by jazzmen – not their lapses but the heights they scale."[35] Aditya Grover of YouthTimes gave it 4/5 stars and said, "The Lunchbox is delicious and delightful! 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!"[36]

Subhash K. Jha of SKJbollywoodnews.com gave 4/5 stars to the film stating, "The Lunch Box is desolation, loneliness and perfection!"[37]

Trisha Gupta in the Sunday Guardian wrote " The Lunchbox is a lovely little film. But it does tick all the boxes that might appeal to festival audiences: quaint Asian urbanism (Mumbai trains, dabba delivery), Indian home-cooking, romance. It provides local colour, without being demandingly untranslatable."[38]

Oscar selection controversy[edit]

The Lunchbox was considered by many people throughout the year to be a lock as India's selection for the 86th Academy Awards Best Foreign Film Category, with many critics unanimously praising it and voting for it to be the representative film.[39] Celebrity director Karan Johar also put his support behind the film saying "All kinds of audience can connect with it and yet within the parameters of love story it is completely unusual. You feel all the love in the world for the protagonists and the unusual aspect of it is they haven't met."[40]

However, the selection committee of the Film Federation of India deliberated on 17 September 2013 and decided to send the Gujarati film The Good Road instead.[41] This decision sparked outrage from many supporters of The Lunchbox including its cast and crew. The film's producer Anurag Kashyap quickly took to twitter and expressed his disgust, saying "I don't know who the Federation is, but it goes to show the complete lack of understanding to make films that can travel across borders."[42] Karan Johar also said he felt very disappointed that such a wonderful chance at Oscar glory with The Lunchbox was spoiled.[43] Guneet Monga, The Lunchbox's other producer said she was flabbergasted as to how the Federation could select a movie that doesn't even have an American producer backing it up, and also listed the number of global festivals and appreciation her film received, concluding that it sadly and supposedly "wasn't enough for the FFI".[44][45][46]

Accolades[edit]

List of Accolades
Award / Film Festival Category Recipient(s) Result
Apsara Film Producers Guild Awards[47][48] Best Film Anurag Kashyap, Arun Rangachari and Guneet Monga Nominated
Best Director Ritesh Batra Nominated
Best Actor Irrfan Khan Nominated
Best Actress Nimrat Kaur Nominated
Best Actor in a Supporting Role Nawazuddin Siddiqui Won
Best Screenplay Ritesh Batra Nominated
Best Story Ritesh Batra Nominated
Yash Chopra Award for the Most Promising Debut - Director Ritesh Batra Won
Best Female Debut Nimrat Kaur Nominated
Star Verdict Performer of the Year Irrfan Khan Won
Asia Pacific Screen Awards[49] Best Screenplay Ritesh Batra Won
Jury Grand Prize Ritesh Batra Won
Asia-Pacific Film Festival[50][51] Best Film Ritesh Batra Nominated
Best Director Ritesh Batra Nominated
Best Actor Irrfan Khan Nominated
Best Actress Nimrat Kaur Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui Won
Best Screenplay Ritesh Batra Won
Outstanding Achievement Award Irrfan Khan Won
Asian Film Awards[52] Best Film The Lunchbox Nominated
Best Actor Irrfan Khan Nominated
Best Screenwriter Ritesh Batra Nominated
Dubai International Film Festival[53] Best Film - Feature Anurag Kashyap, Arun Rangachari and Guneet Monga Nominated
Special Mention - Feature Ritesh Batra Won
Best Actor - Feature Irrfan Khan Won
Filmfare Awards[54][55] Best Film Ritesh Batra Won
Best Debut Director Ritesh Batra Won
Best Supporting Actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui Won
Best Story Ritesh Batra Nominated
Best Editing John F. Lyons Nominated
Best Sound Design Michael Kaczmarek Nominated
Ghent International Film Festival[56] Canvas Audience Award Ritesh Batra Nominated
International Critics' Week[2] Grand Rail d'Or (Viewers' Choice Award) The Lunchbox Won
International Indian Film Academy Awards[57] Best Actress in a Leading Role Nimrat Kaur Pending
Best Actor in a Supporting Role Nawazuddin Siddiqui Pending
Best Story Ritesh Batra Pending
London Film Festival[58] Best Film Ritesh Batra Nominated
Oslo Films from the South Festival[59] Best Feature Ritesh Batra Nominated
Reykjavík International Film Festival[60] Church of Iceland Award Ritesh Batra Won
Screen Weekly Awards[61][62] Best Film Anurag Kashyap, Arun Rangachari and Guneet Monga Nominated
Most Promising Debut Director Ritesh Batra Won
Best Actor Irrfan Khan Nominated
Best Actress Nimrat Kaur Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui Nominated
Best Screenplay Ritesh Batra Nominated
Best Story Ritesh Batra Nominated
Zee Cine Awards[63][64] Best Debuting Director Ritesh Batra Won
Best Actor in a Supporting Role Nawazuddin Siddiqui Nominated
Best Story Ritesh Batra Nominated

See also[edit]

Bollywood films of 2013

References[edit]

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  2. ^ a b "Sony Pictures Classics Acquires Cannes Critics' Week Winner 'The Lunchbox'". Indiewire. 24 May, 2013. Retrieved 4 April, 2014. 
  3. ^ "THE LUNCHBOX (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved 24 January 2014. 
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  6. ^ a b [1][dead link]
  7. ^ The Lunchbox Box Office Prediction Report
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External links[edit]