Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Ritesh Batra|
|Produced by||Anurag Kashyap
Siddharth Roy Kapur
|Written by||Ritesh Batra|
|Music by||Max Richter|
|Editing by||John F. Lyons|
|Studio||UTV Motion Pictures
DAR Motion Pictures
|Distributed by||Sony Pictures Classics
|Running time||104 minutes|
|Budget||10 crore (US$1.5 million)|
|Box office||20.09 crore (US$3.1 million)
(3 weeks domestic nett.)
The Lunchbox 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 UTV Motion Pictures, Dharma Productions, Sikhya Entertainment, DAR motion pictures, NFDC (India), ROH Films (Germany), ASAP Films (France), and the Cine Mosaic (United States). 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. It was shown at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival. The film was released in India on September 20, 2013. The film has done well at the box office.
In The Lunchbox the protagonists are a man who has been grieving since his wife died and a woman who wants to seek her husband's attention to rekindle their love and hopes to cook her way through her husband's heart. But by a rare mistake of the very famous 'dabbawalas' of Mumbai city, the dabba with the delicious food she had prepared for her husband instead gets delivered to Mr. Fernandez. Realizing the mistake of the delivery she writes Fernandez a note about it. Then unfolds a beautiful episode in their life in a series of compelling and sincere notes they exchange through the dabba.
- Irrfan Khan as Saajan Fernandez
- Nimrat Kaur as Ila
- Nawazuddin Siddiqui as Shaikh
- Denzil Smith as Mr. Shroff
- Bharati Achrekar as Mrs. Deshpande
- Nakul Vaid as Rajiv, Ila's husband
- Yashvi Puneet Nagar
- Lillete Dubey as Ila's mother
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. 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.
Batra completed the first draft of the screenplay in 2011, 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. The character of Ila played Nimrat Kaur, six months prior to the shooting, and the character played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui was further developed and improvised during shooting,
Irrfan Khan liked the script of the flim 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. Some of the dabbawalas who the director befriended while researching for the film, also have been cast in minor roles.
The film was shot in 2012 in Mumbai at a budget of ₹10 crore. Prior to the filming, the cast rehearsed for six months. It was shot using the Arri Alexa digital film camera. 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.
Release and reception
Screenings and film festivals
The film was screened on May 19, 2013 as a part of the International Critics' Week at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, where it received a standing ovation and positive reviews. and won the Critics Week Viewers Choice Award also known as Grand Rail d'Or. 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.
The Lunchbox opened to overwhelming unanimous critical acclaim. The review aggregates 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. 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.
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." 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." 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." 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."
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." 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." 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!"
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." 
Oscar selection controversy
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. 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."
However, the selection committee of the Film Federation of India deliberated on September 17, 2013 and decided to send the Gujarati film The Good Road instead. 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." Karan Johar also said he felt very disappointed that such a wonderful chance at Oscar glory with The Lunchbox was spoiled. 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".
The Lunchbox had a good start in first weekend in India, grossing Rs 7 crore in first 3 days. The film collected around Rs 11 crore in first week. Lunchbox nett. grossed Rs 7 crore nett in second week taking its total to over Rs 18 crore nett. The business of the first three weeks is Rs 20.09 crore and the fourth weekend would have added Rs 40-50 lakhs nett.
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- The Lunchbox Box Office Prediction Report
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- "Eating Oscar for Lunch?". Tehelka. 2013-09-21 , Issue 38 Volume 10. Retrieved 2013-09-16.
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- "Anurag Kashya Tweet". Sept. 20, 2013.
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- "Gunnet Monga Tweet #1". Sept. 20, 2013.
- "Guneet Monga Tweet #2". Sept. 20, 2013.
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- The Lunchbox at the Internet Movie Database
- The Lunchbox at Bollywood Hungama
- The Lunch box Movie Review