The Lunchbox

The title container is a collection of round tins that can be filled with food, stacked into a column, and locked in place with a vertical handle, which is how they’re delivered to office workers in Mumbai from a local restaurant; that novel design was about the only thing remotely engaging about this tedious Indian rom-com. Writer-director Ritesh Batra, making his feature debut, combines the old food-is-love gimmick with the even older epistolary gimmick of exchanged notes between strangers, in this case a lonely widower (Irrfan Khan) who’s preparing to retire from his accounting job and an unhappy wife (Nimrat Kauer) whose tasty lunches for her husband are misdirected to the other man’s desk. As in an old Nora Ephron comedy, each of the prospective lovers is supplied with an irritating comic foil; for the accountant, an overly ingratiating trainee (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), and for the wife, a domineering mother (Lillete Dubey) heard almost entirely through an open window as she calls down from the floor above. In English and subtitled Hindi.