Irrfan Khan (Life of Pi, Slumdog Millionaire) stars alongside the radiant Nimrat Kaur in Ritesh Batra’s delightful feature debut, in which a mistaken lunchbox delivery paves the way for an unlikely romance. In Mumbai, more than 5,000 dabbawallas – lunchbox couriers – navigate chaotic streets to deliver lunches, lovingly prepared by housewives, to working men across the city.

Ila (Kaur) is a housewife living in a middle-class neighbourhood with a husband who ignores her. Saajan (Khan) is a beaten-down widower about to retire from his number-crunching job. After Ila realizes that Saajan is receiving the meals meant for her husband, the two begin sending each other letters through the lunchbox. What starts as an innocent exchange about Ila’s cooking gently develops into something more.

The Lunchbox paints a nuanced portrait of life in contemporary Mumbai, effortlessly weaving themes of gender values, social class and generational differences into its core love story. Batra’s beautifully penned characters and gentle, precise direction simply envelope you. Whether it’s the cooking of a meal, the reading of a letter, or the riding of a crowded train, the film’s small moments culminate in big impact.

Toronto International Film Festival

‘A wistful, elegant love story’
Screen International