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The Lunchbox (Blu-ray Review)

The Lunchbox - www.whysoblu.comA mistaken delivery in Mumbai’s famously efficient lunchbox delivery system connects Ila, a neglected housewife, to Saajan (Irrfan Khan), a lonely man on the verge of retirement. Through a series of exchanged notes that they pass back and forth through the lunches, Saajan and Ila find comfort in their unexpected friendship. Gradually, their notes become little confessions about their loneliness, memories, regrets, fears, and even small joys. They each discover a new sense of self and find an anchor to hold on to in the big city of Mumbai that so often crushes hopes and dreams. Still strangers physically, Ila and Saajan become lost in their virtual relationship that could jeopardize both their realities. 

 

The Lunchbox

 

Film

The Lunchbox is a new film from India that focuses on Ila, a lonely housewife, and Saajan, a lonely widower on the verge of retirement. These two unlikeliest of strangers begin a sort of pen-pal correspondence through their courier delivered lunch that they both received by accident. Ila’s lunch delivery was supposed to go to her husband but somehow made it to Saajan instead. Included in each daily lunch from Ila is a note lamenting her life. She’s in a loveless marriage and feels like there’s not much left in the world for her to care about. She’s unable to reach her apathetic husband.

By the same token Saajan, being a widower, is ready to retire and essentially die. The loneliness of a widower’s life, in his case, does not show promise. Saajan looks much older than he really is but that’s due to him surrendering himself to his circumstances. Ila, by that same comparison, just wants to break free. Yes, I just punned a Queen song. Going into The Lunchbox I had no idea it would be this dramatic or simplistic. It’s a very simple film filled with warmth and lively and often hilarious characters and some poke fun at some of the Indian traditions – especially with the family dynamic. When we see Ila at home she’s usually cooking something up while pondering life and talking to her aunt that lives upstairs through an open window. We never see the aunt, we inly hear her and her stories and her advice.

Saajan has a lonely life, so the majority of the time spent with him is at work as he navigates through his workday and when he’s training his new eager replacement. Another funny and unique device touched upon in the film is that lunch delivery service. Apparently it was studied by Harvard University and from what I gather it IS a very efficient and full proof system that they developed to get employees their lunches on time and without error, so the irony in the film is that they’ve actually made a mistake, which the courier counters back by saying that they don’t make mistakes, because Harvard University studied their system. It’s a funny bit.

Another thing I wanted to touch upon is the visual aesthetic of the film. Honestly, it looked like a Wes Anderson film. Yes, it’s odd, because one would not thing that Mumbai, India would have that sort of palette, especially in a film of this sort but it’s true. It doesn’t have the same beats as a Wes Anderson film but the production design definitely does. That was one of the first things that noticed when I popped the Blu-ray into the machine.

The Lunchbox would have gotten a perfect score if it weren’t for the ending. The ending really caught me off guard, because it acts almost like a precautionary tale to this sort of romance. I would rather not spoil it but let’s just say that all was going well until the rug was essentially pulled form under my feet. The Lunchbox is heartily recommended if you’re in the mood for some light and refreshing entertainment.

 

The Lunchbox

 

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Clarity/Detail: The Lunchbox on Blu-ray looks spectacular. Certain scenes and environments have a very pastel look to them and there were no signs of contrast or sharpness fluctuations whatsoever. It was a flawless presentation.

Depth: You can just gobble it all up. Watching The Lunchbox in all its high definition glory made me want to get my passport out and take a trip to Mumbai. You can almost feel India through the screen.

Black Levels: I did not detect any instances of crush. Black levels remained deep and inky.

Color Reproduction: The color palette was sensational. There are many uses of color and none of these uses make for it trying to be fancy just for the sake of being fancy or to show off. It’s a very cool color palette that puts the viewer at ease. It’s also really cool to look at these color compositions. They’re a work of art unto themselves and it’s one of my favorite things about the film. The colors, man!

Flesh Tones: Flesh tones look au-natural. No one looks sick or pasty, so kudos to the Blu-ray format for making it work.

Noise/Artifacts: This is a very clean and natural looking image. Mumbai may be a very dusty city that kicks up some dirt to the foot and road traffic but you would not know this by looking at the pristine image of the film -flawless victory, indeed.

 

The Lunchbox

 

 

Audio 

Audio Format(s): Hindi DTS-HD MA 5.1

Subtitles: English, English SDH, French

Dynamics: For such a low-key film you would not expect The Lunchbox to have that “oomph” factor but it does. During those scenes that feature any given character out and about in the streets of Mumbai and either walking, driving, or taking the bus, the elements and busy-ness of the environment really livens up the lossless track. I felt like a fly on the wall riding the bus. It’s a very immersive track.

Low Frequency Extension: There are many instances where you may hear an engine rev or when the bus revs, etc., and the LFE channel makes no apology for revving itself either.

Surround Sound Presentation: Mumbai is heavily populated and busy. You will feel as if you were walking the streets as the rear channels have every background noise coming at you at the same time without feeling cluttered. It’s an extremely clean ambient experience.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is crystal clear, so be prepared for many instances of English being spoken by many of the characters. They seem to be fluent in both languages and the center channel handles it perfectly.

 

The Lunchbox

 

Extras 

The Lunchbox on Blu-ray has one extra and it’s an audio commentary track by writer/director Ritesh Batra.

  • Audio Commentary by Writer/Director Ritesh Batra – This is a very cool and informative audio commentary track by the director in which he takes you on a journey of how he made the film. He talks about the struggles in getting it made and navigating the Indian entertainment industry along with studio politics. It’s a neat listen.

 

 

The Lunchbox

Summary

The Lunchbox was very entertaining and makes for a strong feature film debut by writer/director Ritesh Batra. The Blu-ray has reference video and audio specs and just one special feature – an audio commentary. If you can get past the ending that I didn’t like then you should have a great time with The Lunchbox. Dig in!

 

 

Order The Lunchbox on Blu-ray!

The Lunchbox - www.whysoblu.com

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Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

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