The Lunch Box is a three-storied (Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur, Nawazuddin Siddiqui) film by chef oops writer-director Ritesh Batra, beautifully or rather realistically shot by Michael Simmonds, restrainedly edited by John F. Lyons.
This lunch box is replete with scrumptious delicacies sautéed with humour. Each ingredient is painstakingly handpicked, rinsed, strained, and cooked to perfection. Here’s how one can deduce the recipe of this chef-d’oeuvre called Lunch Box:
Take a slice of life. Peel its multiple layers carefully until you reach loneliness called Saajan Fernandez (Irrfan Khan in one of his career-best performances, reaching a notch above ‘The Namesake’ benchmark). The loneliness must be left raw for a while so that its flavour blends well into the wafting aroma of the preparation. Soak this loneliness in the stew of nostalgia so that it gets a gnawing surface and other ingredients don’t mix with it.
Add some interesting flavor to this dull ingredient, by marinating it with a colleague about to take his position after retirement called Aslam Shaikh (Nawaazuddin proving his mettle in an endearing role with comic shades). This marinating layer will prevent loneliness to lose its flavour and make it more receptive for new spices to be added later.
In the meanwhile, simmer the emotion called love (Nimrat Kaur, a real find, who plays a housewife saddled with daily chores and taking care of her school-going daughter and indifferent husband who according to her, is having an affair thanks to her olfactory instinct). To balance the salt of monotony and spice of hope, sprinkle a dash of turmeric (Bharati Achrekar making her presence felt through voiceover redolent of the good ol’ Wagle Ki Duniya days on DD).
Now take a frying pan called Mumbai Dabbawalas and add some oil of confusion (a rarest-of-rare mistake by the ever-reliable Dabbawalas), making loneliness (Saajan Fernandez) lock horns (not lips, mind you) with love (Nimrat Kaur) through exchange of letters. Don’t forget to add some red chillies of sensuality which is a key ingredient in every recipe of love and loneliness, but practice restraint.
While at it, be careful and avoid aloo-gobis like ‘Kabootar jaa jaa’. You may squeeze a Nadeem-Shravan lime of ‘Mera dil bhi kitna paagal hai’, but ensure that you don’t overcook this wonderful concoction, for the want of nostalgic flavour.
Leave the concoction to simmer for a while, until love and loneliness have gained a common flavour. Ensure that though the flavours of emotions unite, the twain shall not meet. As long as you keep doing that, The Lunch Box will continue to entice. Finally garnish it with a subtle end. Bon appétit.