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Indian audience to get a taste of Batra’s Lunchbox

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Indian audience to get a taste of Batra’s Lunchbox

Post  Admin on Sat Sep 07, 2013 8:24 am

His short films have been screened at prestigious international fests and the most recent, Cafe Regular, Cairo went to as many as 40 of them and bagged 12 awards.Yet, Ritesh Batra admits that the response to his first English feature film, 'The Lunchbox' (2013), which opened at the International Critics Week at Cannes 2013 and won the Grand Rail d'Or Award, took him by surprise.

"The morning premiere got us a standing ovation, the second one was equally overwhelming. Then the reviews were out and everyone was talking about the film," he reminisces. "There were requests for more screenings, calls from filmmakers I didn't know asking me to put in a good word for them, distributors from US, UK, Germany and France wanting to negotiate for the rights and people shouting out dialogues on the street. It was hard to believe that my little film set in Mumbai had resonated with so many people across the world."

The simple love story starring Irrfan Khan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Nimrat Kaur has been acquired by Sony Pictures Classics. It is gearing up for a September 20 release with premieres in the UK and US among others. But despite all the international acclaim, Batra is a worried man.

"The story, the characters, the ingredients in The Lunchbox are all very Indian so it's important that it does well here," asserts the soft-poken director who grew up in Mumbai, went to the US when he was around 18, married a Mexican girl, Claudia. He lived away for around 12 year before returning to the city of dreams with his wife and daughter Aisha who, he points out fondly, "at 10 months is a good baby who doesn't fuss and enjoys watching movies and has seen this one too".

And what about her mamma? "Claudia," he admits, "is a tough audience who keeps me grounded by making me change diapers. Fortunately, like the rest of my family, she has liked the film."

The simple story about an almostretired number cruncher and solitary widower and a neglected housewife that starts when dabbas inadvertently get exchanged and blossoms through chaste, brief notes left inside the lunchbox, was born while researching a documentary on dabbawallas in 2007. "I got friendly with one group and they started talking to me about the conversations they'd overheard when waiting outside an apartment and slowly an idea took root," Batra admits.

Some of those dabbawalas who went on to become his friends, have featured in the film. "The brinjal also plays a significant role in the movie," laughs the filmmaker. "The vegetable plays an important part of my life. It was the one thing I would always look forward to finding in my lunchbox."


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