The Lunchbox (Dabba) (2013)

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Released 12-Nov-2014

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Audio Commentary-Writer / director Ritesh Batra
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Madman Propaganda x 4
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2013
Running Time 100:45
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Ritesh Batra

Madman Entertainment
Starring Irrfan Khan
Nimrat Kaur
Nawazuddin Siddiqui
Lillete Dubey
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music Max Richter

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Hindi Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

"Sometimes the wrong train can lead you to the right station"

     Each working day in Mumbai thousands of housewives prepare hot lunches for their husbands. The lunchboxes are picked up by dabbawallahs, transported by train into the city and delivered to the men’s offices in time for lunch. After lunch the process is reversed and the lunchboxes returned to the housewives. The lunchbox delivery system is a wonder of the modern world and apparently only one in millions ever goes astray. The Lunchbox (original title Dabba) is the story of that one.

     Ila (Nimrat Kaur) is a wife with a pre-teen daughter who is afraid that her husband Rajeev (Nakul Vaid) is losing interest in her and having an affair. To spice up her marriage she prepares a special lunch for Rajeev but the lunchbox is delivered by mistake to Saajan (Irrfan Khan). He is a lonely widower living alone on the brink of retiring after 35 years in one government job and being replaced by Shaikh (Nawazuddin Siddiqui). At first tentatively Ila and Saajan start to exchange notes in the lunchbox, gradually revealing to each other some of their fears, hopes and dreams. At the same time Saajan, to his surprise, also starts to become friendly with Shaikh. His life is opening up after many years but is it too late for Saajan and Ila to change their lives?

     The Lunchbox is a poignant, wistful and sweet romance about food, accidents, fate and the possibility of a second chance. The writer / director is Ritesh Batra, whose first feature this is; his direction is sure and not stagy, the writing natural and funny, such as the conversations between Ila and the unseen “aunty” upstairs, and for this script Batra won best screenwriter at the 2014 Asian Film Awards in Hong Kong. He has also been blessed with a fabulous cast to deliver his lines. Irrfan Khan is a veteran Indian actor who has appeared in 122 films (according to the IMDb) and was seen in the west as the adult Pi in Life of Pi (2012 ); for this wonderful performance as the initially stern and unlikeable Saajan he won the Best Actor award at the Asian Film Awards in 2014, an impressive feat given that those awards are mostly dominated by films from East Asia. Nawazuddin Siddiqui is a well-known face in India with many Bollywood films to his credit, but the revelation is relative newcomer Nimrat Kaur who is fabulous, her emotions playing across her face as she reads the letters from Saajan. Another familiar face is Lillete Dubey in the small but important role as Ila’s mother; Dubey has been seen in, for example, Monsoon Wedding (2001) and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011).

     The Lunchbox was shown at Cannes in 2013 where it won the Grand Golden Rail Award. It is a sweet, tender film which is funny and sad, takes no surprise turns and leaves the resolution in the air while, if nothing else, showing how little personal space is available on Mumbai commuter trains!

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Transfer Quality


     The Lunchbox is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, the original theatrical ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced.

     Filmed using Arri Alexa cameras the print is sharp and detailed. Colours are natural as are skin tones. Blacks are solid although shadow detail was occasionally indistinct.

     There was occasional slight ghosting against mottled backgrounds, some scenes looked glary and there was some shudder in the end titles but otherwise artefacts and marks are absent.

    The English subtitles are in a yellow font. They are clear and easy to read and I did not notice any spelling or grammatical errors.

     The layer chance was not noticeable.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     Audio is Hindi Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 Kbps.

     This is a low key audio track, suiting a film that is mainly dialogue. This dialogue is clear and centred, the surrounds and rears used almost exclusively for ambient sound such as the click and clack of the wheels of the trains which have such a central role in the film. The sub-woofer was seldom heard, but nor was it needed.

     The score is credited to Max Richter; it is low key and used sparingly. More noticeable is the Bollywood songs on the radio and the songs of the dabbawallahs on the train.

     Lip synchronisation fine.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Audio Commentary by writer / director Ritesh Batra

     Batra speaks non-stop in English and provides a wealth of information about the film. He talks about the Mumbai lunchbox delivery system, how he originally was looking to make a documentary about the dabbawallahs, the scriptwriting, the film’s themes, the cast, locations, food and music, the languages of the film, the sound design, production design, continuity errors, things he would do differently and being a first time director. He is a lively, informative and interesting speaker and this is a very good commentary helping one’s enjoyment of the film.

Theatrical Trailer (1:55)

Madman Propaganda

     Trailers for Jappeloup (2:09), The Finishers (1:57), Le Havre (2:22) and Cutie and the Boxer (2:13).

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     All releases of The Lunchbox include the commentary as the extra and are similar, except for some subtitle options.


     The Lunchbox is a treat. It is a different sort of film, a wistful, unusual romance where the couple do not meet face to face although their future, and their fate, is in their hands.

     The DVD has good video and audio. The commentary is very good.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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