The Lunchbox is a simple yet thought-provoking drama. It portrays the uninteresting lives that people lead in the city of Mumbai. One longs for human interaction that is missing. It is also about how one gets used to the same humdrum life at the same time. Even when there is a chance to break free from this, one shirks it.
This is not just the story of people living in Mumbai, rather it is a worldwide occurrence. It is about loneliness, which is omnipresent. There are multitudes of individuals, who even after having a family feel the urge to get in touch with someone. This stems from the fact that outwardly everything may appear normal but from within there is an emptiness that constantly bothers oneself.
Saajan Fernandez (Irrfan Khan) lives a monotonous life. Every day he commutes to work and then in the evening he comes back home. This is like the scores of other people. However, he is a widower and leads a very vacuous life. In fact, he has become grumpy due to this seemingly isolated life that he lives. He has been working in the same office for 35 years and now he will be retiring very soon.
Ila (Nimrat Kaur) is a middleclass housewife who has a husband and a school going daughter. The husband goes to work and has no time to even talk to his wife. Ila’s life is very much a reflection of Saajan’s. Ila has a neighbourhood aunt who gives her company. She doesn’t see the aunt nor does the viewer but one just hears her communicate with Ila. This is Ila’s only source of real human interaction besides her daughter.
One day, there is a mix-up of the lunchboxes (dabbas) and food prepared by Ila reaches Saajan instead of the dabba from the restaurant, which goes to Ila’s husband. Thus begins their relationship through interaction over written chits of paper. Saajan and Ila initially only write about the food, but later they also communicate about their lives. Both of them find an escape from their humdrum and banal lives in this way.
At office, Saajan’s replacement is a young man who is an orphan by the name of Shaikh (Nawazuddin Siddiqui). Initially, Saajan avoids him but later on they become quite paly with each other.
Saajan is extremely well portrayed by Irrfan Khan. He brings out the hollowness in his life completely. Ila is played by Kaur who has done an excellent act of a disenchanted young housewife. Nawazuddin, playing the young man who is going to replace Saajan at work, does a commendable job once again in this movie, and plays his part with élan.
The movie is an excellent study of human lives and with a tinge of humour and melancholy it has just the right formula to please the discerning audience.