The Lunchbox: Q + A

 

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Grace asked Mia ::

1. How did you hear about The Lunchbox and why did you want to see this film?

I can’t quite remember how I first discovered The Lunchbox – perhaps it was via the IndieWire blog Shadow and Act – but I wanted to see the film because of it’s simplistic storyline and independent spirit. Plus, I’m a fan of Irrfan Khan. I find him to be quite handsome and I love his subtle acting!

2. Do you think the adverts for The Lunchbox were accurate to the film you watched? 

Yes. The trailer was accurately representative to the film I watched.

3. What were you expecting from this movie? What did you get? 

I was expecting a simple love story that would transcend the normal conventions of romance and I “got” just that.

4. Do you like Bollywood movies? Have you seen quite a few? Did you know this director previously?

I do enjoy Bollywood movies. However, I’m not sure if The Lunchbox fits comfortably in that category of film. Yes it was shot in Mumbai (aka Bombay) and yes Hindi was the main language used but “Bollywood” normally refers to Hindi films with high production value with song and dance throughout. One favorite Indian film of mine that I can watch over and over again is Monsoon Wedding. Also, does Bend it Like Beckham count? And no, before The Lunchbox I had no idea who writer/direct Ritesh Batra was.

5. What did you like most? What did you like least? What did you think of the ending?

Liked Most: Auntie was my favorite. She not once made an appearance on camera but her voice told her story.
Liked Least: I don’t know why, but Shaikh got on my nerves. I never could quite tell if he was telling the whole truth and if Sajaan just gave in to his story of being an orphan and not having a family. Likewise, Shaikh, as a character, didn’t grow. I kept waiting for Shaikh to have his “aha” moment but it never came.
The Ending: I like to think at some point or another they found one another but perhaps the ending is more representative of life. Not everything works out in the end. Not every relationship can begin and end as smoothly as we often see on screen. The ambiguity that Retish left us with is both reassuring and frustrating but it didn’t leave me unsatisfied in any way.

Mia asks Grace ::

1. Do you think the two main characters gave strong performances?

Yes! Both actors did a wonderful job. They were both reserved but evocative. I loved their quiet humor and all the non-verbal acting the most. The scenes where you just take in their reactions, breathing, small facial changes; those scenes were simple and beautiful.

2. Did you side with any one character?

I felt bad for both of them equally and I feel I fell in love with both of them equally.

3. What was your perception of Shaikh?

Shaikh seemed nice but over eager in the beginning. It seemed really disrespectful when he was not promptly ready to train at 4:45 on the first day. I’m surprised Shaikh and Saajan built any relationship and especially the one they had. In hindsight, he seems like a classic case of, “fake it til you make it.” Shaikh, in the end, seemed like a very sad little man who wants much more than what he has. However, he was a good tool to find out more about Saajan’s story.

4. Did you like the filmmaker’s decision not to show Auntie?

I kind of loved it! Auntie added a lot of the comedic moments. She was also a good tool to push Ila and also helped her into certain realizations about her own situation. For example, ,Ila sees how much Auntie loves Uncle and seems to recognize that her husband would never love her that much.

5. What do you think happened in the end? Or, what ending did you construct for yourself?

It seems as though Saajan was trying to track down Ila and Ila found her own inner strength to get out of her situation. I hope that Saajan catches up with her just as she leaves her house and they run away together. I actually feel an acute loss that we never really see them together. It makes the moments where they get close, like the restaurant and when Ila goes to Saajan’s office, more effective and emotionally evocative.

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Dear White People

DWP

Dear White People first came onto my media radar over the summer while I worked on a film called Black Nativity. At the time, I was researching how to make a web series and stumbled upon the writer/producer of TwentiesLena Waithe.

Not only is she an upcoming African-American female filmmaker – something rare in the industry – she’s also breaking into Hollywood with her team of other young African-American filmmakers with the Sundance success and Lionsgate acquisition of Dear White People.

Before I delve into the particulars, I’m a bit ashamed to admit I was quite skeptical of her venture. After all, how many young African-American filmmakers in our millennial generation have truly broken ground in Hollywood? I even went so far as to question her efforts in a twitter conversation. While I found her defense knowledgeable, I thought, who was she to be the pioneer? I’m starting to believe I was a bit jealous.

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But let me tell you why. After first seeing the trailer for Dear White People, before it was accepted into Sundance, I honestly didn’t believe the production quality was high enough. It might have stemmed from my hesitation on whether or not mainstream Sundance would take “us” seriously or perhaps more so, I was nervous that Lena Waithe and director Justin Simien were being too racially controversial and harsh against non-Blacks given the current and much talked about concept of a “Post-Black” America.

However, from what I can glean from the trailer and snippets of articles here and there, that’s exactly what Waithe and Simien mean to tackle: the concept of identity for modern black Americans under 35. Essentially, as Touré often and famously touts, what does it mean to be black? After all, the film’s tagline is, “A satire about being a black face in a white place.”

But I digress. What I really want to say is this:

Congratulations to Lena Waithe and Justin Simien for joining the likes of Fruitvale Station’s Ryan Coogler. I can’t wait to see Dear White People on the big screen and look forward to what’s next to come from this talented pool of individuals.

Concept trailer below.

You can follow Lena Waithe on Twitter under the handle @Hillmangrad – I just hope to be as awesome one day!

Check out more of Dear White People here.

(This piece first appeared on m for mia)