The Lunchbox


Our story takes place in modern-day Mumbai, India. It’s just another day on the job for Saajan. After 35 years in the insurance claims industry, he is one month away from early retirement. His wife passed many years ago, and he has become a lonely and grumpy man. Entirely by surprise, his life changes direction when he receives a lunch delivered to him by mistake.

Ila is trying to find her way back to her husband’s heart through his stomach. She’s pulling out all the stops in the lunches she makes him. Ila’s efforts are greatly appreciated, but not by her husband—the dabbawalas begin to deliver her lunches to Saajan. Saajan has not eaten meals like this for quite some time. A friendship develops when he and Ila exchange notes through the lunchbox initially intended to correct the ongoing delivery mix-up.

50 Dates at 50 Take:

In my research for this review, I examined the history of the lunchbox system in Mumbai. It turned out to be pretty interesting. Even the design of the stacked metal lunchbox is fascinating. The system itself has been in service for 125 years and was established to deliver lunches to immigrants in a fast-growing city that then had few established places to eat. Freshly made at home, meals are picked up by couriers in the morning and later delivered to the recipients. The used lunch containers are then picked back up and returned home the same day, six days a week. The delivery routing system is highly accurate for being analog. They average only four mistakes per one million deliveries. Harvard Business School, FedEx, and Amazon have all studied this system due to its high level of precision.

The movie The Lunchbox is in the area’s native language most of the time. Therefore, turning on subtitles will be necessary. However, the dialogue is simple and easy-to-follow. Not only is Mumbai’s lunchbox delivery system an engaging discussion topic, but the movie also reveals how seemingly routine lives can take a quick turn. It additionally gives us Westerners a look at daily life in Mumbai.

Why You Need to Watch It:

There are several noteworthy items in this movie. The conditions that create the relationship between Ila and Saajan are perfect for a forbidden romance, and they make for a great film. However, they are not on the moral high ground. Even Ila wonders if “the wrong train can get to the right station.”

With that said, let’s analyze what we can learn and apply from this movie to those who are either back out on the dating scene or currently in committed relationships.

  • The power of the handwritten letter is on full display here. Nicholas Sparks’ films also demonstrate this communication principle. Guys, note that their written exchanges are relatively brief, allowing Ila and Saajan to get to know each other while retaining a level of mystery. Notice how the level of anticipation grows for each note exchange.
  • Ila’s father’s death and her mother’s confession about their marriage remind us of two things:
    • How lucky many Boomers and Gen Xers who find themselves back out on the dating market are. We’re now in a position to use our life experience to pick a more compatible partner.
    • For those in committed relationships, how important balance is. Ester Perel’s book Mating in Captivity does an excellent job of enlightening us on how to maintain balance so we don’t eventually become repulsed by our partners. Likewise, here at 50 Dates, we recognize a weekly Date Night as one of the critical ingredients to maintaining a prosperous and romantic long-term relationship.
  • When the time came for him to meet Ila, cognitive distortions, negativity, and fear of rejection took over Saajan’s mind. He quickly rationalized himself as an older man with nothing to offer. This level of self-doubt has and will limit him for the rest of his life. By referring to himself as “yesterday’s lottery ticket,” he has a ready-made excuse to stay old and grumpy.
    • Here at 50 Dates, after setting up a meetup or a date, we follow through. We show up. We have a positive attitude, commit to the conversation, and show our date how awesome we are. Never do we mail it in or go through the motions.
    • Saajan was in a challenging situation. He understood that it was not proper to put himself in a position to be a homewrecker. At the same time, he did not act with class when it came to meeting Ila. He should have followed through with his commitment, though the most correct thing would have been not to agree to meet in the first place.




Year Released:  2013

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