“The Lunchbox”: Love in the Time of Food Delivery

The Lunchbox Communicating is hard enough, and Ritesh Batra's downcast comedy The Lunchbox suggests that it's even more difficult in a city like Mumbai, which is depicted as noisy and crowded with a pervading sense of quiet desperation that regularly drives people to suicide. It's also a city with a remarkably complex lunchbox-delivery infrastructure — presumably so commuters don't have to carry their own bulky lunches on the overcrowded buses — and we see when housewife Ila (Nimrat Kaur) using it to send the day's lunch to her husband's office, a meal with a new recipe that she will hopes will get her a little attention from him. The cylindrical metal lunchbox instead gets delivered to Saajan (Irrfan Khan), a depressed widower and imminent retiree. Finding Ila's cooking delicious, Saajan and Ila begin sending each other notes via the box. It's a fairly standard rom-com setup, and while the execution is frequently very funny, The Lunchbox is very bleak at times, too, the characters wrestling with culturally ingrained fears of, among other things, aging and intimacy. The Lunchbox is also a celebration of analog culture, of the lasting impact of antiquated technologies such as VHS and audio cassettes to preserve memories. But whatever you do, don't question the accuracy of the lunchbox delivery company. They do not make mistakes.

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