I love a good romance and so the movie The Lunchbox was just my cup of tea. It’s an exquisite love story set in Mumbai. You get a real flavor for modern city life in India along with a tender tale and a lesson about the value of relationships. Saajan is a lonely widowed accountant and Illa is an unhappy wife whose husband is cheating on her.
One fascinating thing about the movie was learning about the dabbawallas lunch delivery system founded in 1880. 5000 workers called dabbawallas pick up hot lunches in tins from people’s homes or from a restaurant, and deliver them to office employees throughout Mumbai. According to an article by Meena Kadri only one mistake is made in every six million deliveries.
This movie is about one such mistake. Instead of the lunches Illa makes arriving at her husband’s office they land up on Saajan’s desk and one thing leads to another. They begin exchanging notes in the lunch box and fall in love by letter. But will they actually ever meet in person? That’s the question at the heart of this movie.
Although I enjoyed watching Illa and Sajjan’s romance develop my favorite part of the movie was the way both Saajan and Illa are supported, inspired and renewed by a strong friendship. There is an older woman we never see who lives just above Illa’s apartment. Illa calls her ‘auntie’ and she is a humorous wise character constantly shouting down advice, warnings, recipes and observations to Illa. Illa’s mother has troubles of her own to deal with and this ‘auntie’ is a true friend and second mother to Illa.
An Arab young man named Shaikh is sent to Sajaan to be his trainee at work. Although Sajaan doesn’t like Shaikh at first they eventually come to be friends and Shaikh, who is an orphan, invites Sajaan to be the best man at his wedding. Shaikh helps Sajaan realize how lonely his life has become since his wife’s death and how reaching out to other people might change that. We see this change demonstrated in Sajaan as he becomes less gruff and more interactive with the children in his neighborhood as well.
I wanted a more conclusive ending to this movie but my husband chided me saying the last scenes were fairly bursting with potential and I should be satisfied.
Interesting note: In the movie Sajaan is a Christian, Illa a Hindu and Shaikh a Muslim
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