Friday, March 28, 2014

The Lunchbox , a movie review

'The Lunchbox' is an Indian film of great poignancy narrating the story of friendship between a housewife, Ila and a soon-to-retire accountant, Fernandez.

The backdrop of the dabbawallas(lunchbox delivery men) of Mumbai, who were studied by Harvard for their six sigma delivery standards, showcases hard work and struggles of everyman. From the moment they pick the lunch boxes, they travel by foot, rickshaws and trains to ensure that every lunch box is delivered to the right person before their lunch break.What happens when one of those lunch boxes goes amiss , forms the crux of the movie.

When Fernandez receives Ila's lunch box by mistake, the initial confusion soon turns into friendship between two lonely people. Ila ,ignored by her non-chalant husband and Fernandez, a widower with no friends or immediate family, start sharing their  little moments of joy, nostalgic memories and day to day problems through hand-written notes via the lunch box.

Ila's upstairs neighbor 'auntie' is her agony aunt, sometimes helping her with spices for the dishes while at other times advising on what she should write to Fernandez. Without actually seeing a glimpse of 'auntie' we sympathize with her story of the loving wife taking care of her husband in coma for 15 years. As this kaleidoscope shifts, we catch another glimpse of Indian women - Ila's mother taking care of her cancer ridden husband with minimum resources.

Meanwhile, Fernandez, is befriended by his successor at work, Sheik. Sheik provides comic relief , whether he is cutting vegetables on the train or eagerly eyeing the lunch box over his lunch of fruits.
Sheik brings a sliver of friendship to Fernandez's life.

Commuter trains in Mumbai are the life blood of the city. The backdrop of the trains reflects the mosaic of Indian culture that co-exists peacefully in between the chaos  - beggars singing popular Bollywood songs, religious groups singing hymns aloud, dabbawallas balancing their boxes and vendors selling wares on the trains.

There is a scene where Ila, the protagonist, shares  with her daughter the games she played as a child. The trigger for this conversation is Fernandez, who regrets not creating more memories with his wife before she passed. This encapsulates the beauty of this film.Like an expert trapeze artist , it balances humor, poignancy, romance and a tinge of melancholy with subtlety.

The movie takes a turn when the friendship turns into romance and brings forth the insecurities of Fernandez and Ila. Ila is unhappy on discovering her cheating husband and Fernandez is confused about his retirement.

Will Fernandez have the courage to face Ila? Will they get together at all ? To find out the answers do watch this movie and I promise that you won't be disappointed.