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The Lunchbox

The Lunchbox (2014)



Average Rating: 7.7/10
Reviews Counted: 93
Fresh: 89 | Rotten: 4

Warm, affectionate, and sweet but not cloying, The Lunchbox is a clever crowd-pleaser from first-time director Ritesh Batra.


Average Rating: 7.7/10
Critic Reviews: 26
Fresh: 23 | Rotten: 3

Warm, affectionate, and sweet but not cloying, The Lunchbox is a clever crowd-pleaser from first-time director Ritesh Batra.



liked it
Average Rating: 4.1/5
User Ratings: 13,467

My Rating

Movie Info

Middle class housewife Ila is trying once again to add some spice to her marriage, this time through her cooking. She desperately hopes that this new recipe will finally arouse some kind of reaction from her neglectful husband. She prepares a special lunchbox to be delivered to him at work, but, unbeknownst to her, it is mistakenly delivered to another office worker, Saajan, a lonely man on the verge of retirement. Curious about the lack of reaction from her husband, Ila puts a little note in


Drama, Romance

Ritesh Batra

Jul 1, 2014


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All Critics (93) | Top Critics (26) | Fresh (89) | Rotten (4)

There's nothing wildly original here, but it's carried off with charm and wit, and a pair of very enjoyable central performances.

April 9, 2014 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A lovely little film from a place where the little things linger.

April 3, 2014 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic IconTop Critic

"The Lunchbox" doesn't offer easy solutions, but it is filled with keen observations. All meals should be this satisfying.

March 28, 2014 Full Review Source: Detroit News
Detroit News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A pleasure, from the fascinating intricacies of Mumbai-style interlocking lunch containers to the quietly masterful performance of Khan.

March 27, 2014 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Warm, and warmly predictable.

March 27, 2014 Full Review Source: Newsday
Top Critic IconTop Critic

"The Lunchbox" is a feast of delights, one of the best stories about the connection between food and love the movies have ever seen.

March 27, 2014 Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Batra allows Ila and Sajaan's relationship to develop slowly and subtly, like an old photograph, and the tender humor adds exactly the right amount of spice to what is already a delicious mix of melancholy and hope.

September 10, 2014 Full Review Source: Willamette Week
Willamette Week

It dragged for me a tiny bit towards the end but, generally, I really enjoyed it.

July 18, 2014 Full Review Source: At the Movies (Australia)
At the Movies (Australia)

Somewhere in [its] moments of joy, lies the film's optimistic message about life, and how it should be lived. Which sounds syrupy, but it's far from it. It's magical.

July 18, 2014 Full Review Source: At the Movies (Australia)
At the Movies (Australia)

Though this much-touted, cuter-than-cute, try-hard romantic film from India has been showered with festival glory and glowing reviews from across the world, it unspools as a likeable but pretty unexceptional little confection.

July 18, 2014 Full Review Source: 3AW

The subtle performances of the leads, the remarkable Irrfan Khan and the engaging Nimrat Kaur, make 'The Lunchbox' a pleasure to watch.

July 16, 2014 Full Review Source: Leonard Maltin's Picks
Leonard Maltin's Picks

The Lunchbox is either a piquant romance or a wise comedy. The director's confidence with such a delicate story makes it successful as both.

July 14, 2014 Full Review Source: Sydney Morning Herald
Sydney Morning Herald

The Lunchbox is the kind of picture that envelopes you like a warm blanket, charming you with its slow-building affection and life-altering curries.

July 7, 2014 Full Review Source: Quickflix

A charming portrait of two lonely hearts who connect across a city of more than 20 million people.

July 7, 2014 Full Review Source: Concrete Playground
Concrete Playground

Ritesh Batra in his debut feature, stirs his flavours gently, allowing the delicate aromas of human interaction to blossom unexpectedly in a heart-warming romance

July 5, 2014 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

At best, your heart goes out to the two isolated characters. At worst, you may go to sleep.

July 1, 2014 Full Review Source: The Virginian-Pilot
The Virginian-Pilot

Khan's performance is in itself a tasty buffet, filled with a simmering anger, desperate loneliness, and a biting sense of humour.

June 13, 2014 Full Review Source: Matt's Movie Reviews
Matt's Movie Reviews

A Romantic's Delight.

May 8, 2014 Full Review Source: Illinois Times
Illinois Times

First-time writer-director Batra nearly overplays his hand at a couple of moments, but all in all this is a film of finely judged reserve, and acutely anti-sentimental.

April 28, 2014 Full Review Source: Film Comment Magazine
Film Comment Magazine

The themes are universal, even trite, but the details are authentic and specific.

April 25, 2014 Full Review Source: Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

A moving piece of cinema.

April 23, 2014 Full Review Source: HeyUGuys

Writer-director Ritesh Batra's "The Lunchbox," a romantic-comedy about two strangers in Mumbai who develop an unlikely connection, may well be the start of a distinguished cinema career.

April 19, 2014 Full Review Source: Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA)
Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA)

There are no big scenes or intense dramatic moments; it's filled with observational details about character and place, adding up to a subtle but memorable look at desperate lives in transition.

April 18, 2014 Full Review Source: News & Observer, Raleigh, NC
News & Observer, Raleigh, NC

Leaves you hungry for Indian food and friendship over loneliness

April 18, 2014 Full Review Source: Movie Habit
Movie Habit

This is a charming crowd-pleaser that is made with love -- just like the food in the titular lunchbox. Better yet, it's just as delectable.

April 18, 2014 Full Review Source: Times-Picayune

As convincing a story about aging and compromise as it is a romance.

April 16, 2014 Full Review Source: Las Vegas Weekly
Las Vegas Weekly

Audience Reviews for The Lunchbox

A neglected housewife starts a correspondence with a widowed accountant nearing retirement when he is mistakenly delivered the special lunch she made to impress her distant husband. More interesting to Westerners for its peek at the lives and customs of average residents of modern day Mumbai than it is for its ordinary (though well-acted) drama. If this story was set in (say) Seattle, it would be a hopeless bore.
June 25, 2014
Greg S

Super Reviewer

For a movie that relies heavily on the seductive qualities of food, The Lunchbox rarely dwells on the culinary delights prepared. It's hard not to think the filmmakers missed a golden opportunity to seduce the audience with the wonders of Indian cuisine. After all, in this parable food speaks louder than words ever could. What we do get is a nice romance that unfolds in a very delicate and deliberate manner. Ila is melancholy but radiant. Saajan is a stoic sourpuss. Both mature as a result of knowing each other. There's real drama in their interaction. At times it's so subtle and precious, we have to fill in the blanks as to what people are feeling. This translates into what they ultimately do. I won't spoil the conclusion, but it's as if the screenwriters think a tidy resolution is too predictable. Still, there's a lot to love, particularly the sensitive relationship that evolves among the principals. It's just that the desultory ending is a serious letdown after such a promising buildup. I found it frustratingly unsatisfying. The finish left me hungry for more.
May 29, 2014

Super Reviewer

'The Lunchbox'. A real charmer that's just the right amount of sweet and hardly hits a false note. If only more films like this came out of India.
March 23, 2014

Super Reviewer

In order to gain the attention of her husband Rajeev(Nakul Vaid), Ila(Nimrat Kaur) cooks an extra special lunch for him. Except he does not receive it. Instead, it ends up in the hands of Saajan(Irrfan Khan) who is taking early retirement in a month. He is so satisfied with his meal that he returns the lunchbox entirely wiped clean. When Ila realizes that it was not her husband who ate it, she writes a note to its mistaken but grateful recipient.

With a masterclass in underacting from Irrfan Khan, "The Lunchbox" is a movie about the simple pleasures in life that in its own way demonstrates that sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. Overall, the movie operates on the rhythms of daily life, unpredictable as they often are. But those are rapidly changing, as society speeds along, or at least tries to. Some of this is universal like the lack of communication even with modern means, but other concepts like Mumbai's horrific traffic are endemic to India.
March 17, 2014
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

    1. Saajan Fernandes: But I had two bananas after lunch....I think it will be good for the motion.
    – Submitted by N F (3 months ago)
    1. Saajan Fernandes: Dear Illa the food was very salty today.
    – Submitted by N F (3 months ago)
    1. Shaikh: "The wrong train can take you to the right station."
    – Submitted by Dante P (4 months ago)
    1. Saajan: Sometimes the wrong train takes you to the right destination.
    – Submitted by Rajneet D (11 months ago)
View all quotes (4)

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