The Lunchbox, 2013 - ★★★★★
A lovely, tender, epistolary romance between a neglected young wife and a widower who is about to retire. The daily lunchboxes, lovingly prepared by Ila for her husband, get mistakenly delivered by Mumbai’s dabbawalas to Saajan. He can’t believe his luck as he - as a widower - usually gets his lunchboxes prepared by a rather indifferent commercial service. He starts returning the boxes with little notes, and before long he and Ila are revealing their deepest secrets to one another.
It’s a gentle film, but never saccharine or unrealistic (except, perhaps, for the mis-delivery, which a dabbawala in the film assures Ila can never happen, because people from Harvard did a study…). There’s a lightness of touch, and elements that might be handled more heavy-handedly (like the fact that Saajan is evidently a Christian), are just left for the viewer to note - literally in the background. The city and commuting scenes are really evocative of Mumbai, and for non-Indian viewers it provides a rare glimpse into the lives of ordinary middle-class people.
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