Sunday 13 April 2014

"The Lunchbox" (The Guardian 11/04/14)

The Lunchbox ***
Dir: Ritesh Batra. With: Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur, Nawazuddin Siddiqui. 104 mins. Cert: PG

Beyond Bollywood, something notable is happening in Indian cinema, much of it organised around the prolific Anurag Kashyap (Gangs of Wasseypur): he’s produced this quietist, Mumbai-set tale for debutant writer-director Ritesh Batra, but his nuanced approach to plot and character is evident throughout. A widowed office clerk (Lifeof Pi’s Irrfan Khan) enters into written correspondence with the bored housewife who’s been readying his hot lunches (Nimrat Kaur); as these two lonely souls try to nudge one another out of their individual ruts, the skilfully self-contained leads scatter just enough titbits of mutual understanding to set us rooting for some future dinner date. It remains resolutely undemonstrative, Batra’s camera mirroring the characters’ cautious restraint. Yet by its final act, pressing home the most un-Bollywood message that life’s often more complicated than the movies, it’s assumed the feel and weight of a well-observed short story. Rabindranath Tagore, for one, would be proud.

The Lunchbox is now playing in selected cinemas.

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