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The Lunchbox

Two people in the massive city of Mumbai become friends via mis-delivered lunch box

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The gentle drama is nominally about two lonely people living in Mumbai, India, who meet via a mixed-up lunchbox. Ila (Nimrat Kaur) prepares meals for her emotionally distant husband, but they are mistakenly delivered to an older accountant named Saajan (Irrfan Khan). At first, he returns the tins with notes about the cuisine, but soon the two strike up a friendship via letters. Both are reserved and private — unlike Saajan's garrulous new assistant — and find relief in sharing their confidential thoughts in such an anonymous fashion.

But writer-director Ritesh Batra's film is also about troubling social aspects of modern India, where busy city life and career-oriented residents have become disengaged from traditional relationships and cultures. It's a job bracketed by rush hours, and perhaps some TV in the evening. The industrious bustle becomes cover for emotional disengagement — at least until a lunchbox is sent to the wrong desk. A film both sweet and bittersweet about two strangers who help each other emerge from their acceptable, but moribund, lives. In Hindi, with subtitles.

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