The Lunchbox (aka Dabba) review by George Hooper - Cinema Paradiso
It’s hard to dispel the notion that parts of foreign cinema will be confusing and undecipherable to some, it’s even harder to dispel those ideas in your own head and with The Lunchbox I went in expecting a film that would have a different idea of the modern romance thanks to its foreign setting. What I found however is stories like this carry across oceans and continents as love and friendship are at their core very human feelings and they all transfer with The Lunchbox being a testament to that fact.
The film follows Saajan (Irrfan Khan), a man who is on the verge of retirement but when he is one day given a lunch box containing food meant for someone else it starts a relationship he never thought he would have. When Ila (Nimrat Kaur) sends her food to her husband it is misdirected and sent to Saajan and the two start sending each other letters as they struggle with their own problems such as life after work and a distant husband. Together the two deal with their problems and find solace.
While the duo’s noticable age gap does seem odd and hard to navigate it actually transforms the film into a much more emotional and potent drama as it traverses the many issues between these two very different people as they attempt to reach the same page as each of them pushes through their various strifes. Khan is excellent as Saajan and his business like demeanour slips away nicely throughout the film adding more layers to his at first narrow minded character.
While the film never expressly treats Saajan and Ila as destined to be together or even right for each other it does feel open to the possibilities, the idea that kindred spirits exist regardless of place, time and consequences. The Lunchbox is really all about there being no stops to life and whatever position you find yourself in there is always a door or action that can cause irreparable harm or great joy, it’s just choosing which door to pick, leaving you hoping that Saajan and Ila pick the right one