Mukkabaaz Review

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Ehraz Asmad Zaman
  • 3.5/5
A rare boxing story full of bravado, heart, local humor, and thirsty punch.

Only once in a while does a film release that is so beautiful, so engrossing, so intelligent and so well crafted, that it becomes impossible to avert your eyes from it. The Lunchbox is one such rare film that must be seen to inhale its genius and beauty.

The beauty of this film lies not in the story but in the telling of it which sweeps you off your feet and transports you into a world where words and a Dabba(tiffin-box) pulls two strangers together. One of them is Sajan Fernandez (Irrfan), a widower who is on the verge of his retirement. He is a lonely man who is isolated from the world at his own will as if he no longer wishes to be a part of it. The other stranger is a married woman, Ila (Nimrat Kaur), whose husband has lost interest in her. She wants to be a part of his life but he seems to not care. In a bid to win her husband's heart, Ila, one fine afternoon cooks his favorite meal but the local Dabbawala's of Mumbai makes a beautiful mistake by delivering the tiffin to Sajan's office.

The letter thus acts as a catalyst for a timeless romance between these two lonely and desperate souls. But this is not a Rom-Com even though the plot sounds like it, far from it. Writer, director Ritesh Batra cleverly uses this simple plot and weaves a beautiful, grieving, and witty tale of lonely hearts. Apart from these two central characters, two more characters are caught in between this romance. One is the voice of a neighborhood woman, Deshpande Aunty (Bharati Achrekar) who lives above Ila. She never appears on-screen but she acts as a fairy godmother to Ila. Another is, Aslam (a terrific Nawazuddin) a trainee who will replace Sajan. He is a fellow who becomes friends with Sajan. Irrfan Khan delivers his best performance as a loner widower. His simplistic performance speaks volumes. There's a scene in which he eats food all alone while reading a book. That scene alone will break your heart. It is a revelation. Matching shoulders with his tall talent is the debutant Nimrat Kaur, who plays Ila with a rare innocence that it becomes impossible to not root for her. She presents Ila with beautiful dignity and makes herself one with the character. Nawazuddin Siddiqui is a revelation in the role of Aslam. He is the sole character who provides some comic relief to the story. It is his presence that ultimately saves the film from becoming dull. Ritesh Batra debuts with a rare romance that leaves you with a lump in your throat while making you smile throughout the film. I am going with 5 stars. A masterpiece indeed!

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