RogerBW's Blog

The Lunchbox 15 July 2014

2013, "Dabba", dir. Ritesh Batra, Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur: IMDb / allmovie

An old-fashioned epistolary romance, conducted via notes passed in a lunchbox. Plot discussion, which may be considered to include spoilers, follows.

Every day, young wife and mother Ila makes a hot lunch for her husband, and it's delivered to his office in central Bombay through the Dabbawala system. For whatever reason, the lunches start going instead to Saajan, an accountant on the verge of retirement. They start to correspond via notes sent in the lunch containers.

That in itself would have made a pleasing short film, an exploration of the different forms that loneliness can take and how it can turn into friendship and love, but it's not enough for feature length. To bring it up to 100 minutes, side plots are added: Saajan's asked to train his replacement Shaikh, and gradually comes to like him, while Ila comes to terms with the impending death of her father and her husband's infidelity. But they're well-integrated, becoming subjects for the correspondence and informed by it.

It's a very slow-moving film by many standards, and large parts of it are conducted as monologue while either Ila or Saajan reads notes sent by the other. And yet it never drags. Both of the principals are islands of calm amidst the constant noise of the big city.

I watched with English subtitles to the original soundtrack, which is mostly in Hindi but drops to English from time to time.

The one downside and weak point, as far as I'm concerned, is the inconclusive ending. When you've asked me to spend all this time getting emotionally involved with these people and caring about whether their lives turn out all right, damnit, I want you to tell me that they do. Or even that they don't. Not that they might. Mind you, I am perhaps more sensitive than most to this sort of thing, and even I enjoyed this film.

[Buy this at Amazon] and help support the blog.


  1. Posted by Owen Smith at 12:44pm on 15 July 2014

    I thought it was an American disease to always want a firm ending to a film. In Europe we're usually more accepting of an ambivalent ending.

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 06:46pm on 15 July 2014

    I don't insist on a happy ending, as American test audiences are notorious for doing, but I do like an ending. Also a beginning and a middle. Preferably in the traditional order.

Comments on this post are now closed. If you have particular grounds for adding a late comment, comment on a more recent post quoting the URL of this one.

Search
Archive
Tags 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 3d printing action aeronautics aikakirja anecdote animation anime army astronomy audio tech base commerce battletech beer boardgaming bookmonth chain of command children chronicle church of no redeeming virtues cold war comedy computing contemporary cornish smuggler cosmic encounter coup cycling dead of winter doctor who documentary drama driving drone ecchi economics espionage essen 2015 essen 2016 essen 2017 essen 2018 existential risk falklands war fandom fantasy film firefly first world war flash point food garmin drive gazebo geodata gin gurps gurps 101 harpoon historical history horror hugo 2014 hugo 2015 hugo 2016 hugo 2017 hugo 2018 hugo-nebula reread in brief avoid instrumented life kickstarter learn to play leaving earth linux mecha museum mystery naval non-fiction one for the brow opera perl photography podcast politics powers prediction privacy project woolsack pyracantha quantum rail ranting raspberry pi reading reading boardgames social real life restaurant reviews romance rpg a day rpgs science fiction scythe second world war security shipwreck simutrans smartphone south atlantic war squaddies stationery steampunk stuarts suburbia superheroes suspense television the resistance thirsty meeples thriller tin soldier torg toys trailers travel vietnam war war wargaming weather wives and sweethearts writing about writing x-wing young adult
Special All book reviews, All film reviews
Produced by aikakirja v0.1