In this enormously likable Indian romantic comedy-drama, Irrfan Khan plays a grouchy, widowed claims adjuster who discovers that his lunch has been accidentally switched with a coworker’s. Instead of notifying the delivery service, he digs 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 two very enjoyable central performances. The sense of place—bustling, teeming modern Mumbai—is superbly realized, and there’s an air of melancholy that feels pleasingly out of step with many of the film’s Western forebears: It’s difficult to imagine Tom Hanks in You’ve Got Mail recognizing that he’s over-the-hill because his bathroom has begun to smell like his grandfather’s.
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.