Cooking up a love story

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After winning applause at film festivals overseas, including Cannes Film Festival, Dabba (The Lunchbox) is all set to release in India this Friday. To promote the film, start cast Irrfan Khan and Nimrat Kaur along with Ritesh Batra, Karan Johar, Siddharth Roy Kapoor and Guneet Monga were in the city recently.
While director Ritesh says that taking the film to festivals first before releasing in India was not a marketing strategy, the cast and crew maintains that the film will make the audience want to fall in love. “The story is the real hero of the film. But I am glad about how the film has been received in festivals. This is the kind of journey that not many films get to have,” says Ritesh.
Calling the film a coming-of-age cinema, producer Siddharth Roy Kapoor says that both cinema and the audience are evolving to embrace more substance-based cinema. “We are witnessing the birth of a new kind of cinema. Today’s audience is also very evolved and has grown up watching global cinema. Both commercial and indie cinema is developing with the audience,” adds Siddharth.
Talking about his role of a government employee, Irrfan Khan, who lights up the screen, talks about the challenges of playing a mature character. “It’s very tiring to act like an old person. The way you have to play with your facial expressions and body language is a real challenge. The film has no songs and these kind of films add to the variety in cinema. Though songs and dance is the uniqueness of Indian cinema, they have not been used imaginatively lately. And therefore they slowly became a burden. I hope the parallel cinema which focuses on substance keeps improving,” says Irrfan.
Nimrat, who is winning hearts across the world for her performance as an ignored housewife in the film, says, “My character, Ila, is a very progressive woman who is a victim of circumstances. But she is not willing to give up either,” says Nimrat.
She is seen cooking delicious food in the film. The cast quips that as the dabbas will open, the audience would want to taste the mouth-watering food cooked by Ila in the film. In fact, Ritesh reveals that they hired food stylists to make the food look beautiful on-screen. “We had a team of efficient food stylists working on the look of the food. Also, cooking is an integral part of Ila’s character. So we have shown her making evolved and complicated dishes to go with the confusion and struggles of her personal life,” adds Ritesh.
The lead actors romance with the exchange of letters hidden in lunchboxes. Actor Irrfan insists that handwritten letters that are fading out in the age of emails have a romantic and nostalgic value to them, “And we hope that the audience will also feel the same way and be able to connect to this innocent and simple love story.”

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