Monday, September 30, 2013

Why I went and saw ‘The Lunchbox’

Another movie that forces me to write a blog entry…Well, this time I had enough reasons to write about it even before watching it.

A lot has been said and written about Ritesh Batra’s ‘The Lunchbox’ over the past couple of weeks. Not many people in my circles had heard about the film before it released last week. Most of my college mates at MCRC said that since the film had Irfan Khan, it ought to be a good one. Not many were aware that this is one multi-award winning film which till a week back was contending to be India’s official nomination for the Best Foreign Language Film Category of the Academy Awards, but lost to ‘The Good Road’. Hardly anyone knew the reason why I wanted to watch this film in the first place.



With a packed college schedule every week (and half the weekend a.k.a. Saturdays), I went and watched the film with a few friends on Thursday evening. As I took my seat in the houseful show, I told my friend, ‘Look out for some known people’s names in the opening credits’.
The opening sequence of the film was something I loved. Beautifully captured long shots of Mumbai’s local trains, the dabbawalas and early morning office goers. And then the long list of producers (Yeah, this is India’s first Indo-French-German collaborated film with an American distributor- Sony Pictures) started and I waited for the name I was looking forward to see. As soon as Guneet Monga’s name appeared I pointed at it and spoke out the name as loudly and as non-shoutingly as I could. Yeah, this is somebody I know! She is my grad-college alumnus! A moment of pride.

(No spoilers ahead, keep reading, even if you are yet to see the film)

The film is short. Crisp. It could have done without an interval. I had made a check-in on facebook when I had entered the hall. And as the lights came on during the interval, I checked my phone and saw a comment on the check-in from a neighbor- ‘Tell me what U think of the ending’. That one line got my nerves tickling. Is there going to be an unexpected ending? Some kind of twist in the tale? Something to break the cute love-story taking shape slowly? I didn’t know what was going to happen, having made sure that I read no reviews of the film before I see it. But right now one thing seemed certain- something will happen that’s not expected in the end.

The lights dimmed again and after a reminder that ‘Mukesh died of mouth cancer’ and ‘Ye tar aapko kar sakta hai bahut bimaar’, the film resumed. Mr. Fernandes’s lonely life, Ila’s will to escape her frustrated existence combined with upar-wali aunty’s life-nuskhe and Sheikh’s wrong-time entries and talks, plus, of course, the consistent wrong, but destined, delivery of the lunchbox, cooks up the entire plot of the film. As the screen went dark, my hands went up, in anticipation… ‘Please, don’t end here…,’ I muttered. The credits started rolling.
As the screen went dark, my hands went up, in anticipation… ‘Please, don’t end here…,’ I muttered. The credits started rolling. 
[Making use of my recently earned Adobe Illustrator knowledge, this is my first ever computer Illustration]
My mind was focused on checking each and every name in the credits list (After having seen familiar names in Bombay Talkies and Ship of Theseus, I make sure I sit till the end of the credits in every film). Is there somebody else in the crew I know? And well, yes! In the camera team, a name scrolled right on the top- Siddharth Diwan- another alumnus from my college. I like this!

‘Am I the only one who doesn’t understand films like this one?’ a friend asked us as we all sat there watching the credits.

We laughed. ‘I am going to get Guneet Monga’s contact and call or write to her about the film,’ I told everyone. What the film had done, and what probably films like these always tend to do, was probably open a space for discussion. That is what had happened when I had seen The Reluctant Fundamentalist a few months back or when I had seen Ship of Theseus a few weeks ago.

As we made our way out of the hall, our discussions began.

(Spoilers ahead, you have been warned)

‘What exactly happened? Did they meet or not?’
‘What was she saying? Did she send the letter to him?’
‘She said she is going to Bhutan. Is he going as well?’
‘The transformation occurred in the train scene. Did you notice that really old man sitting across him? The camera focused on his fingers tapping the table. He didn’t want to be like that in a few years.’
‘Their meeting is what we hope for. They should have shown something of that.’
‘Why do these good films make us keep guessing? Are they good films because they make us keep guessing?’

(No more spoilers from here)

‘Will you be writing a blog entry on this film,’ I was asked. I wasn’t too sure now. This film did force me to think, gave me some thoughts to ponder, something which has been common about film related blogs that I have written in the past.

The next day at college, everyone asked me about my views on the film. My only reply was, ‘Go and watch it. Let’s discuss it after that.’ By this time I was certain that there were too many thoughts occupying my mind and I had to take a few hours out to write about this film on my blog. I have to open my own platform for discussion with people who have seen the film, ones who have thought about it. And yes, if possible, maybe I can contact and get some of the people in the credits of the film, who I claim I know, to read this entry of mine and give their views… [;)]


P.S.: I read Shobha De’s column in today’s TOI about the film and its Oscar journey and liked it. Do take a read.

6 comments :

  1. I think I have yet to read a negative review of this film. Thanks for the spoilers alert - I have yet to see it.
    It's always awesome to see the names of people one knows in a films credits!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do tell me what you think of the film once you see it.
      Thanks for the comment Rickie :)

      Delete
  2. "The lights dimmed again and after a reminder that ‘Mukesh died of mouth cancer’ and ‘Ye tar aapko kar sakta hai bahut bimaar’, the film resumed" :P


    i really liked the way you have written the review...the style is a bit different..
    but after madras cafe, shudh desi , i really cannot gather enough courage to watch another bollywood flick and let my hopes down.. but the lunchbox as you said ifran khan..is making me irresistible to watch it..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for the comment Anshu. Glad you liked the style :)
      Well, this particular film might be the one for which you might want to give in to your resistance. ;)

      Delete
  3. Well written .:)
    3 films that i consider to be this years finest: Bhaag Milkha Bhaag , Ship of theseus , The Lunchbox.
    Review's well put. A bit more brief on details when compared to my version. Loved yours!
    Check out my version if you want to. :)
    http://aficionadolog.blogspot.com/2013/09/the-lunchbox-movie-review.html

    ReplyDelete

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