The Lunchbox

It’s ‘84 Charing Cross Road’ with extra chutney in this enormously likeable Indian romantic comedy-drama. Irrfan Khan plays the grouchy, widowed claims adjuster who discovers that his lunch has been accidentally switched with a co-worker’s. Instead of notifying the delivery service he tucks in, and is transported to culinary heaven in the magical hands of isolated housewife Ila (Nimrat Kaur). It’s not long before this mismatched pair are exchanging furtive letters tucked into folded chapatis.

There’s nothing wildly original here, but it’s carried off with charm and wit, and a pair of very enjoyable central performances. The sense of place – bustling, teeming modern Mumbai – is superbly realised, and there’s an air of wistfulness and melancholy which feels pleasingly out of step with many of the film’s Western forebears: it’s hard to imagine Tom Hanks in ‘You’ve Got Mail’ – or even, for that matter, Woody Allen – recognising that he’s over the hill because his bathroom has begun to smell like his grandfather’s.

‘The Lunchbox’ never quite makes the most of its intriguing setup – writer-director Ritesh Batra seems torn between romance and realism, and the film tries a little too hard to cover both bases. But those who like their character comedy rich, sweet and just a little broad will find plentiful pleasures here.

Release details

Rated: PG
Release date: Friday April 11 2014
Duration: 104 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Ritesh Batra
Screenwriter: Ritesh Batra
Cast: Irrfan Khan
Nimrat Kaur
Nawazuddin Siddiqui

Average User Rating

4.3 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:1
  • 4 star:2
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
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2 people listening
A B

I loved this film. It was not predictable. I just so wanted them to meet. It's a film that touches on issues experienced by potentially scores of indian women who are suffocating in their marriages but stay in the name of tradition, culture, religion and society. They end up turning bitter, twisted and resentful like Ila's mum. It briefly touched on mental health issues and depression eg the woman who committed suicide .

It was brilliant because there were no songs. Just a simple story of two average looking people who find solace in each other through these letters. Sajan is caring and appreciates Ila unlike her husband- he makes her feel alive again.

I think Ila was brave in trying to look for options to end her misery . Like making the first move to meet Sajan, going to Sajan's office and then in the end her plan to run off to Bhutan.

I so wish they had met and the ending was not open ended.

Niki S

Mr. Huddleston,  

I wish you'd see the movie -- and get  your basic facts right.  The upstairs neighbour is not Ila's mother.  And it would be a stretch to say she finds this neighbour irritating. 

Four stars for the film, 1 star for the Timeout review.


Allison G

An old-fashioned romantic story line set in modern day Mumbai, these characters both find hope in their lives thanks to the mix up of the lunchbox.  This movie, while somewhat predicable, was a warm and funny experience that left me smiling, hopeful, and above all, hungry for lunch!