The Lunchbox released in 2013, and it was directed by Ritesh Batra, produced by Anurag Kashyap, Karan Johar and five others. The film was a low budget movie, but a box office success. It won several awards and was also nominated for Film not in English Category of the British Academy Film Awards 2015.
Let us take a look at what the film was about and its lessons for us women.
The story revolves around a young and economically dependent woman Ila who is also a mother to a daughter, who constantly seeks love from her husband. She cooks delicacies for him, only to be ignored. Her husband is having an affair and neglects his wife who does all his chores and that of the household. She even looks after the little girl on her own. Her only company is an old woman, her neighbour who calls to Ila from her own home each day, giving her tips on household management.
Each morning Ila hands over the packed lunchbox to the local dabbawala (tiffin service) to deliver to her husband for lunch. To think he needs strength to carry on with his deeds while back at home, the wife suffers in silence. In the meantime, the lunchbox gets wrongly delivered to a widower and a much elderly person, Saajan Fernandes, a government officer on the verge of retirement.
Through this, Ila develops a friendship with Saajan through an exchange of letters through the lunchbox though they haven’t met each other. Ila figures out the affair of her unfaithful husband while washing his shirt and breaks down internally. She writes to Saajan about her broken marriage and wishes to meet him. Saajan initially agrees to meet her but steps back when he sees that she is much younger, even though he had fallen in love with her.
Ila wasn’t financially independent which made her vulnerable yet she refused to show her insecurity.
Saajan chooses to leave Ila when she writes to him about relocating to Bhutan together, where the cost of living is very low. Saajan doesn’t reply but listens to Radio Bhutan, thinks of Ila and then the next day catches the train for his hometown after handing over his duties in office to his junior. Ila comes to his office to find him but is told that Saajan has left. Back home, Ila loses her father, she deals with her grieving mother alone.
The movie ends with a poignant note where Ila leaves her gold earrings and bangles with her husband snoring on the bed. She takes her little daughter along with her meagre savings and leaves her house. In this last quarter of the movie, there is a question mark left to the audiences as to where actually Ila is heading. Saajan, unable to forget Ila, returns to Mumbai in search of her, but Ila had left.
Let’s examine the lessons The Lunchbox had for us:
Be independent. Be educated. Be financially secured. Go get a job or something which can bring revenue for you. Ila wasn’t financially independent which made her vulnerable yet she refused to show her insecurity. She saved whatever she could on her own. She declined that gold which was gifted to her during her marriage.
About Ila’s marriage, we are unaware if it was a love or an arranged marriage. Be careful when you choose a partner. If it is an arranged marriage, then it’s a parent’s duty to know about the groom’s background, the character of that man and his family. If it is a love marriage then it is in our hands. We need to see if that man is worth our love.
In my case, I married a wrong guy who made my life a living hell where I tried to commit suicide at the age of twenty-two. In Ila’s case, she did all her man’s chores and that man ignored her. If a woman chooses to have an affair, it becomes a scandal and when a man does that, it is accepted.
We should refuse to settle for a man of questionable character. Do not confuse a debauch with a lover/husband. Throw that dirty laundry away. Ila figured out that spouse was unfaithful, but she kept quiet. A good thing she did was leaving that nihilist chap without saying a word to him while he royally snored on the bed. Wasn’t it his duty even to look after that child? He played a major role to bring that child into this world.
As women, we shouldn’t spare these characters. In my case, I did exactly the same as Ila, allowed that man of mine to go scot-free, only to return to me after six years and my daughter calling him “uncle” instead of “daddy”. So that was the life lesson to my ex-husband.
Ila proved herself to be a very courageous woman. Not for once did she break down. She dealt with her pain alone. She had courage in her. In spite of the storm she was facing, she dealt with the death of her father on her own.
Do not confuse a debauch with a lover/husband.
She loved Saajan, she tried to reach him but she did not show her desperation or chose another wrong man just to combat her agony. She put on her brave face to her distraught mother and her little daughter. That is what we women should be doing. We should show we carry courage and have the stamina to survive the cruellest whiplash.
Last but not the least, the love factor. Here I bring the man Saajan in the picture. Saajan was a good man. He took care of his wife but he lost her untimely. He fell for Ila but backed out because he thought she deserved better and the age difference scared him. But when its love, please go ahead and say it. Age is just a number.
Just a small gesture of love for Ila could have done wonders. She came running to search for Saajan though he tried to move away from her. He ultimately came back, but we were only left with a question mark. So when you fall in love and find that person capable of loving you, go say it before you lose him/her. You might have a significant age difference, but when its true love, it’s a spiritual connection where age doesn’t matter.
To conclude this essay I say that we women have a long journey ahead and we also have to fight this misogynistic society and that can only be done by fighting our battles together. Society says we are equal, in that case let society give us proof that we women are equal and not just a commodity. We do not need any validation of our worth by a callous man.
Featured Image Credit: Daily Mail