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Irrfan Khan in The Lunchbox
Irrfan Khan in The Lunchbox

The Lunchbox director tries his hand at onstage improv Add to ...

A few minutes into Sunday afternoon’s gala screening at Roy Thomson Hall of The Lunchbox, in which the characters speak a combination of Hindi and English, it became clear there was a problem: no subtitles.

As someone was dispatched to find a different print, writer/director Ritesh Batra bounded onstage and kept the crowd entertained for more than 30 minutes with stories from the filmmaking and information about some of the key characters in the film: the 5,000 dabbawallas (lunchbox couriers) who deliver daily meals to workers all over Mumbai.

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Then Batra pulled his dapper star, the great Irrfan Khan (In Treatment, Life of Pi), who was dressed in a sleek tuxedo, onstage with him.

Just as Batra was running out of material – “I feel like a stand-up comic,” he said – the new, subtitled print flashed on the screen, and the crowd applauded. Almost everyone had stayed put.

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