'Lunchbox' going crossover biggest reward for me: Ritesh Batra
It was one of the most talked about films at Cannes this year and now director Ritesh Batra's debut film 'Lunchbox', a poignant love story starring Irrfan, Nimrat Kaur and Nawazuddin Siddiqui, is going crossover in a big way
'Lunchbox' was screened in the Critics' Week sidebar at Cannes and won the Rail d'Or viewers' Choice award. Vogue listed it on the second number in the seven break out films at Cannes. The film garnered positive reviews from prominent trade papers besides selling well in the market. Batra, behind award-winning shorts like 'The Morning Ritual', 'Gareeb Nawaz ki Taxi' and 'Cafe Regular 'Cairo', is happy that the film has found an audience beyond diaspora.
"The reaction was not expected but I am happy that an Indian story is going crossover. 'Lunchbox' has found newer markets, beyond the diaspora audience. It has sold in 27 territories globally. We are releasing the film in a big way in US, UK, France, Germany and places like Mexico and Brazil," Batra said.
An Indian-French-German co-production, the film has some fifteen producers with prominent names including Gunneet Monga, Anurag Kashyap, NFDC and Oscar-winning filmmaker Danis Tanovic. Batra is working closely with his producers to ensure the India release by later this year or early next year. "It is a very Indian story, something that could have happened only in the India of today. So, we are very keen to get a wide release here. There are some big studios involved. We will make an announcement soon once things are finalised," he said.
The director has previously helmed award-winning shorts like 'The Morning Ritual', 'Gareeb Nawaz ki Taxi' and 'Cafe Regular 'Cairo'. 'Lunchbox' revolves around a mistaken delivery in Mumbai's efficient lunchbox delivery system. This wrong delivery of a lunchbox connects a neglected housewife (Nimrat) to a standoffish office worker (Irrfan). Nawaz played the young replacement to Irrfan's character. Batra, who initially intended to make a documentary on Mumbai's dabbawalas, says he was attracted to the love story because it operates on a strong sense of nostalgia.
"One of the reasons, the film crossed over is because in all the big cities, you have this sense of being in the crowd and being alone. People can identify with this feeling. "I was attracted to the story and it is also a line in the film. It talks about how you forget things and you have nobody to talk to," Batra said.