Monday, September 30, 2013

My (mildly random) review of lunchbox

The missus and I are just back from watching the critically acclaimed movie, The Lunchbox. It was supposed to be India's entry for the Oscar (but to everybody's consternation, was pipped at the post by a Gujarati movie called The Good Road). Artists and people of sensitivity gushed about The Lunchbox and the missus was convinced.

'It's a love story" declared the missus, and in that declaration was the implied message "Take me to see it or else" because the missus is one for love stories, especially the kind that make you dab your eyes with your handkerchief and sniffle a bit. 

I don't mind them myself, I must confess. I've sort of mellowed down and replaced all the cutting edge kung-fu movies in my to-watch list with movies acclaimed for being sensitive and sentimental. But this one was different.

It's a lovely movie, of course. Irrfan Khan is absolutely the finest actor in the world, as is the other guy, Nawazuddin Siddiqui. The female lead has also acted splendidly. The shots are completely un-bollywood-like. Crummy buildings, very ordinary clothes and, most importantly, no hai-rabba songs.

To my untrained eye, however, there wasn't much of a point in the story. Brought up on a harsh diet of potboiler hindi movies, we expect one hero, one heroine, one villain, one comedian, one crisis and one happy ending. This movie had none. There is a housewife who sends her husband lunch through Bombay's famous dabbawala network and it reaches the wrong chap. The housewife is having a tough time getting the husband's attention and an unlikely kinda-romance blossoms between the wrong chap who is an elderly widower and the youngish housewife. They exchange notes through the dabba but never meet each other. And finally - spoiler alert - they part without having really met. It's really beautifully made, please watch it if you haven't, but a very long story about something 
which you or I would have narrated in about seven minutes.

Missus loved it of course. The delicate nuanced expression of love or whatever it is that gets her these days. But I thought the whole thing was rather like something we studied back in college, namely, nucleophilic substitution reactions.A completely waste thing we had to study, in my opinion, but we studied it nevertheless because 'guarantee ten mark question' was the reward. 

Since you're dying to know what a nucleophilic substitution reaction is, I'll tell you. If you add an alkyl halide to an alkali like say sodium hydroxide, you will get the alcohol of that alkyl group, the halogen having very decently detached itself from the said alkyl group -sodium, in our example- and considerately formed a salt with the halogen. But the way it was told us, and we had impressionable minds back then, it was a long drama of how the halogen atom tears itself away from the alkyl halide in the presence of a hydroxide, by being slightly more negative and thus making the alkyl group slightly more positive as a result of which the halogen went on for a couple of more thousand words. 

This lunchbox story was a lot like that. A very elaborate, and as far as I could see, completely random exposition of a perfectly ordinary turn of events.

And if you have deduced from the above that I am slightly pie eyed as I write this, consider yourself the victor of a cigar or a coconut.


Kris Nayak said...

Exactly - I felt the story was a bit overrated. If I had to experience 'real' life, I would have gone to the nearest tea shop and engage a random person in a conversation.