Ritesh Batra’s debut Dabba (Lunchbox) received unanimous praise from major trade publications Variety and Screen.
Variety critic Jay Weissberg termed it “An indie Indian pic with the crossover appeal of Monsoon Wedding” while Screen Critic Fionnuala Halligan wrote: “this is certain to woo international arthouse crowds who have been waiting for an authentic crossover Indian title.”
A feel-good movie that touches the heart while steering clear of expectation, The Lunchbox signals a notable debut from tyro helmer-scripter Ritesh Batra. The ingredients on their own are nearly fail-proof, yet it’s the way Batra combines food with an epistolary romance between a nearly retired number cruncher and a neglected wife that hits all the right tastebuds. An indie Indian pic with the crossover appeal of Monsoon Wedding, it’s sure to be gobbled up by audience-friendly fests before heading into niche cinemas.
A wistful, elegant love story played out across the streets of Mumbai, The Lunchbox is an unexpectedly aromatic charmer from first-time film-maker Ritesh Batra. Eschewing the pitfalls of what appears, on face value, to be a highly schematic set-up, Batra infuses his film with warmth and humanity, while cameraman Michael Simmonds steps up to deliver delicate visuals of modern Mumbai.
Derek Elley of Filmbiz.Asia gives it 9 out of 10 and calls it, “Hugely impressive feature debut, centred on an offbeat “romance”, hardly puts a foot wrong. Festivals and niche theatrical.”
Excerpts from his review:
There’s hardly a shot, line or gesture out of place in The Lunchbox, a hugely impressive feature debut by Mumbai-born, partly New York-based Ritesh BATRA that starts out like a foodie film but spins a simple idea into a whole mini-universe of feelings. Beautifully cast, and packaged with a precision that doesn’t constrain its emotional content.
Watch the presentation of the film at Critics Week:
Watch Critics Week Interview with Ritesh Batra here: