My regular readers on this forum are well aware of the fact that my wife is an excellent cook. How does a person cook better and more delicious food than the other one while using the same ingredients and the same recipe ? The answer is that person only cooks excellent food who keeps his or her heart in the frying pan while cooking. That emotion within him or her only creates that magic which enhances the quality of the food like anything. And that’s called the magic of the cook’s hands. This magic is neither in the ingredients nor in the recipe. If it is there, it can be found in the heart of the cooking person only.
And that’s why many ladies believe (and rightly so) that the way to the heart of a male goes through his stomach only which should be followed by the female in his life to reach his heart and then occupy it forever. But ! But what if the male is so disinterested in the food cooked by her that all her efforts go in vain. It’s heartbreaking for her. Certainly ! Everybody needs appreciation of someone else especially whom he or she is devoting his or her time and energy. And therefore, lack of appreciation from the other’s side may prove fatal for the former’s soul. This is the tale of several wives and believe it or not, several husbands too.
The Lunchbox (2013) tells the story of a housewife who is an excellent cook and tries to win her husband’s heart by following the route going through his stomach only. But the indifferent husband is making her soul die gradually but definitely through his apathy – apathy towards herself, her whole existence and everything done by her for him. Life has become quite dull and hopeless for her. The only reason for her to live is her little daughter plus her aged mother looking after her ailing father.
This housewife living in Mumbai is Ila (Nimrat Kaur) who everyday prepares the lunchbox for her husband and send to him through the tiffin delivery service carried out by the famous Dabbawaalas (tiffin carriers) of Mumbai. She keeps on trying newer recipes for her husband’s lunch by seeking the advice of an elderly lady in her neighbourhood whom she calls ‘aunty’. And one day the aunty’s recipe works but the outcome does not affect Ila’s husband – Rajeev (Nakul Vaid) whom the tiffin was originally sent to. Due to a rare error made by the Dabbawaala, the lunchbox reaches a stranger named as Saajan Fernandes (Irrfan) working in a government owned insurance company. He is an elderly widower and willing for early retirement from his job to shift to Nasik.
Now the lunch which was never eaten completely by Rajeev, is liked so much by Saajan that he licks the lunchbox empty. And when the lunchbox emptied this way, reaches back to Ila in the evening, it’s a pleasant surprise for her. However the pleasantness of surprise gets diluted when she comes to know that it’s not her husband who had eaten that lunch but someone else. However even this indirectly conveyed appreciation of her cooking brings some cheers to her heart. She sends a ‘Thank You’ note in the lunchbox the next day hoping that the lunchbox will reach the same person again.
And yes, it reaches Saajan only again. And again. And again. Her note and the subsequent such notes start fetching Saajan’s replies too. She writes in Hindi but Saajan replies in English. However the language of sentiments is unique and is not dependent on the medium. Hence a bridge is built through these letters between the hearts of the twosome. Like Ila, Saajan is also completely lonely and his loneliness has adversely affected his personality. But now the lunchbox has become something like a postman for both these lonely and suffocated souls to open up and pour own heart out because now each of them has found a listener in the form of the other.
Letters keep on coming and going. Now they wait for the lunchbox – Saajan in the day time and Ila in the evening – just to get the letter of the other one and know what he / she has said from his / her side and when there is a mutual liking between the communicating persons, there’s never any dearth of topics. The result ? Elementary Sir ! The result is love. The love which knows no bounds of age, looks, class, marital position, family etc. etc. etc.They have fallen in love – from Ila’s side without even seeing Saajan but the apprehensions are also there. How can Ila leave her family and run away with Saajan ? And how can Saajan now knowing that he is quite elderly for young (and married) Ila, take her alongwith him ? It requires a lot of courage to take such risks to move from what we are in to what we long for which is absent at least in Saajan. Well, then should we conclude that the love story has ended ? No ! Whether the lovers get united or not, the love story continues. Why ? Because love does not cease to exist.A lot has been said about this wonderful movie. Hence I will not say anything regarding the technical brilliance in all the aspects, the lively portrayal of the everyday life of Mumbai (may be during the period when cellphones were not there) and the outstanding performances from the lead and the supporting actors. Just a line of special appreciation for Nawazuddin Siddiqui who has surprised me with his perfect comic timing in a light-hearted role.
Despite the fact that the theme of this movie can be contrasted with the themes of movies like Sirf Tum (1999), Mitr My Friend (2002), The Japanese Wife (2010) and many others and it reminded me of Joggers’ Park (2003) also, it is quite safe and accurate to say that The Lunchbox has an originality of its own which none can snatch from it.
After watching the movie and listening to the tall claim that the case of a wrong delivery of a tiffin may be one in millions in the world famous tiffin delivery system of Mumbai, I was wondering whether this one in millions mistake can happen everyday whereas it had never taken place in the context of the same people prior to the start of the story of this movie. And this mistake is being repeated everyday so that the love story of the lunchbox sender and the lunchbox receiver can move on for the convenience of the filmmaker. Well, I have to digest this fact because had it not been for this repetitive error, the story of this film would not have come into existence.
Now one thing that I am willing to deal with regarding this movie. It’s not a movie about the lunch or its quality or its consumption and subsequent appreciation for the lunch-maker. It’s about opening up of two persons to each other through letters. In this era of e-mail, SMS, chatting, WhatsApp etc., still there are people who love to write letters. One such person is yours truly himself. Likewise are the characters of this movie who come to know of each other and then move from liking each other to loving each other. But !
But what would have happened had the lunchbox sent by the lady been wrongly delivered to some female instead of a male ? Then this love story would not have come into existence even if that lunch-consuming stranger lady had been appreciative of the food and understanding and empathetic by nature. Why ? Because a love story has to be between a male and a female only. Even when the concerned male and the female never come face-to-face or even see each other’s photograph or even hear each other’s voice, the feeling that the interacting person belongs to opposite sex itself is able to stir the heart of the individual. Opposite charges attract each other and like charges repel each other. It is true in the case of human-beings too. Especially we, the Indians, tend to foster an unexpressed desire in our hearts to interact with a person of opposite sex and allow our hidden romantic feelings to exhibit themselves because our social set-up does not allow us even today to go ahead in a love-affair and male-female interaction without a marital bond between them is still looked upon with contempt by the society. Hence any opportunity to taste that forbidden fruit is grabbed with enthusiasm. Candidly speaking, I am also comfortable more with the females than the males for opening out my heart and thus venting out my frustration or stuffiness. And surprisingly, I have found that more than the males, it’s the females who consider me as trustworthy to share with something they consider as confidential. Hence even without any sexual orientation of the (real or deemed) relationship, a feeling of getting involved with a person of opposite sex is found soothing for the heart. The same appears to have happened to Saajan Fernandes and Ila also. The lunchbox originally contained food for the appetite of the body but once it became the medium of communication between the individuals at the two ends of its daily journey, it started carrying the stuff to satiate the appetite of the souls of the twosome.
I have interpreted the story in this way only. Since the end of the movie and the final statement of Ila in her undispatched letter shook me from within, I pray that this story which has been left as open-ended by the filmmaker, reaches a destination which is satisfactory and soothing for both these lonely souls who strive to become each other’s soulmate. Good luck Saajan. Good luck Ila. A sentimental person named as Jitendra Mathur wants your union to materialize.
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