Actors: Irrfan Khan
Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, AC-3, Dolby, Widescreen
Subtitles: English, French
Audio Description: English
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Number of discs: 2
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Release Date: July 1, 2014
Run Time: 105 minutes
This debut feature by Ritesh Batra has the premise of an Indian romantic comedy, but has sense enough to allow the personalities of the characters to drive the narrative rather than the genre conventions. This may leave some viewers feeling unsatisfied with the more irresolute filmmaking choices, but the journey is undeniably delightful. Much of the credit for this goes to the film’s undeniably engaging leads, as well as Batra’s willingness to engage in crowd-pleasing moments of inspired human connection.
There are two main types of connection in the film, which truly belongs to Irrfan Khan (Life of Pi) as Saajan Fernandes. The main one involves the famously efficient lunchbox system utilized in Mumbai. Despite claims by everyone that a mistake is impossible, somehow Saajan’s usual lunch delivered from a local restaurant is replaced by the lunch prepared by a lonely housewife named Ila (Nimrat Kaur) for her neglectful husband. This mistake leads to a rare honest friendship between the two, capable of writing things in notes to each other that they are unable to tell the people closest to them.
The second connection made by Saajan over the course of the film is with the main he is training to replace him when he retires from his tedious office job in the city. Since the death of his wife, Saajan has led a simple and solitary life void of much joy. Paired with a protégé that has more exuberance than abilities and a newfound lunchtime pen-pal who responds in meals as well as words, Saajan learns to break out of his defeated routine of solitude. These situations lead the audience down a somewhat predictably saccharine path, though it is grounded in reality by the magnificent performances and Batra’s commitment to the sincerity of each situation.
The Blu-ray release includes a commentary track with writer/director Ritesh Batra.
Entertainment Value: 7.5/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 8/10
Historical Significance: 6.5/10