Day 1: Saturday, 22 November
Venue: St Paul’s Institute of Communication Education
A Paradigm ShiftRitesh Batra & Sarita Vijayan
By Enid D’Souza
It was a packed house on Saturday, 22 November, for the first installment of the Breaking Ground: A Conversation with Directors series, held at St Paul’s Institute of Communication Education. The evening began at 5:30pm with the screening of The Lunchbox (2013), which attracted viewers of all ages from across Mumbai.The film’s director Ritesh Batra then talked about the film with Sarita Vijayan in a wide-ranging conversation that threw light on his life and film-making, and the key decisions that impacted both. “Life is about the decisions that you make,” he declared. Batra talked about his growing up years in Bandra and how his childhood memories helped shape the characters for The Lunchbox. It was a film that was a nostalgic tribute to Mumbai, he said.Batra is a food lover so he decided to place food at the core of his story, with a plot twist involving Mumbai’s famous dabbawalas.The director revealed that the lead character of a widower, Saajan Fernandes (Irrfan Khan), was inspired by his own grandfather, with whom he shared a close bond. “I remember him standing at the window and smoking much like Saajan,” said Batra. Several scenes in the film, including Saajan’s house, were recalled from his childhood memories and shot in the bylanes of Bandra.Through the character of Sheikh (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) Batra explored the newer, more ambitious Mumbai. Expectedly, Mumbai’s local trains and the daily commute featured prominently in the film.Batra said he was surprised to see his small, intimate film do so well across the globe and gross $40 million at last count.With the success of The Lunchbox behind him. Batra is on to his next film. He has a script ready and he says his success has not made him complacent: “I’m going to treat my new film like it’s my first.