NEW DELHI: The Lunch Box by Ritesh Batra, which has already won high acclaim in the Festival circuit overseas including Cannes where it was premiered, is finally being released in India on 20 September.
In Hindi and English, the film stars Irrfan Khan with newcomer Nimrat Kaur, apart from Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Denzil Smith, Bharati Achrekar, Nakul Vaid, Baby Yashvi Puneet Nagar and Lillete Dubey.
Filmed by Michael Simmonds and edited by John Lyons with music by Max Richter, the film is the first full-length feature by Batra.
Briefly, it is the story of a young married woman Ila who attempts to give a new life to her marriage by trying out new recipes which she sends out to her husband in the lunch box through the network of 5000 ‘Dabbawallahs’ who operate in Mumbai. But she soon realises that her box is reaching the wrong address and this leads to a chain of letters through the lunch box between Ila and Saajan - an older person on the verge of retirement who really relishes the food - through which they share their anxieties and fears and in a manner of speaking, fall in love. But they never get to meet each other.
Harvard University had once analyzed the delivery system of the ‘Dabbawallahs’, and concluded that just one in a million lunchboxes is ever delivered to the wrong address. Batra says this is the story of that one lunchbox.
Addressing a press meet, Batra said he had initially been researching on a documentary on the Dabbawallahs and had many of them and heard several stories. It was then that he felt he wanted to put a story behind the research.
Karan Johar who along with Siddharth Roy Kapoor of UTV is one of the presenters of the film said he had always picked films that had a soul in them and would touch people’s hearts and this was his reason for associating with this venture.
He said the end had deliberately been left vague and to the viewer’s imagination.
Others present at the press meet were producer Guneet Monga, Kapoor, and actors Irrfan Khan, Nimrit Kaur, and Bharati Achrekar.
Shot on location in Mumbai, the film made its world premiere at the Semaine De La Critique (Critics Week) at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, where the film received rave reviews.
Batra’s short films have been shown at many international film festivals and fine arts venues. His recent Arab language short Café Regular, Cairo, screened at over 40 international film festivals and won 12 awards including the International Critics Prize (FIPRESCI) at Oberhausen, and Special Jury Mentions at Tribeca and Chicago. CAFÉ REGULAR, CAIRO was acquired by Franco-German broadcaster, Arte.
He is currently working on his next film Photograph and a collection of short stories.
Other producers are Anurag Kashyap and Arun Rangachari, while the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) is a co-producer.