Baby booming freelance travel writer, blogger and photographer, Gary Yeates is now temporarily nesting back in his home town Sydney and pretending, albeit unsuccessfully to live a Gen Y life. His blog site; www.thegreyglobe.com
Dabbawallahs are Mumbai's fabled army of food delivery workers. Given the logistical nightmare of transporting thousands of lunch boxes daily from home to office, the Dabbawallahs boast the imposing stat (reputedly Harvard substantiated) of misplacing only 1 in every million deliveries. That's near enough to infallible but one that did end up at the incorrect destination is the conduit for "The Lunchbox", the directorial debut for writer Ritesh Batra.
Ila played by Nimrat Kaur
When neglected, love-starved housewife Ila (Nimrat Kaur) inadvertently connects with lonely, widowed office drone Saajan (Irrfan Khan) via such a lunchtime hiccup, an illicit covert love story at 10 paces unfolds.
There's an air of feel good familiarity in the basic premise (did somebody say Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan?) but infused with a heavy hit of "Only in India." In fact the film is a quasi character versus place struggle. It's an uplifting if slightly predictable tale set against the larger than life maelstrom that is Mumbai. Think of a heady combo that part seduces and part has third world travel devotees yearning to dust off the passport.
Saajan played by Irrfan Khan
Batra's direction has a tendency to take the scenic route from point A to point B but I suppose there's no hurry. He pulls all the right emotional strings and for a first attempt the film is sublime. Mind you, he is aided and abetted by some refined performances from his lead cast. Khan (Slumdog Millionaire) in particular takes subtlety to a new dimension. "Less is best" is not something normally associated with anything Indian but Khan's sagacious facial expression changes are powerful. The character is counterweighted by the more gregarious role of his clumsy yet affable apprentice Shaikh (Nawazu Siddiqui).
If nothing else this film will confirm the comparatively insipid taste of your cheese and tomato sandwich purchased for lunch at the corner deli. Is the way to a man's heart really through his stomach? Set through a screening of The Lunchbox and you may well be a convert to that timeworn refrain.
Sajaan and his affable offsider Shaikh
The Lunchbox is due for public release July 10.
All images courtesy of Madman Entertainment Pty. Ltd. All rights reserved.