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Ritesh Batra on The Lunchbox: Every film is an exercise for the next one

The writer-director's first film, starring Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur and Nawazuddin Siddiqui, was released on 20 September five years ago.

Sonal Pandya

Filmmaker Ritesh Batra broke onto the international scene with his first film The Lunchbox (2013). Starring Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur and Nawazuddin Siddiqui, the feature was a nuanced, moving look at two lonely souls in Mumbai who connect with each other quite accidentally through a tiffin box.

The film, which waded through a controversy when it wasn't selected as India's entry to the Academy awards, was eventually selected as the Best Foreign Language Film at the British Academy Film Awards in 2014.

Ritesh Batra: I don’t want to be slave to a release date

Years later, the critical acclaim and positive audience reaction to Batra's debut film lingers. When we spoke with Batra last December about his upcoming film, Photograph, we asked what he had learnt about himself since The Lunchbox came out.

Batra said he did not think about it. "It’s not my job, you know. Hopefully, I can keep working, keep creating things. But you know, how far I’ve come, how far I’ve to go, I feel like I’ve learnt a lot and every film is an exercise for the next one. What I have learnt definitely is that I want to invest more time in writing, but how far I’ve come, I don’t know," he replied.

Batra at the 2017 Venice International Film Festival

Since then, Batra has directed two international films, The Sense Of An Ending (2017) starring Jim Broadbent and Charlotte Rampling, and Our Souls At Night (2017), starring Jane Fonda and Robert Redford. He told us that the experience of working with these Hollywood legends and writing his next feature film has been a really nice ride. But scripting his own film is definitely more special for him.

Batra returned to India to film Photograph, which stars Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Sanya Malhotra. The film doesn't have a release date as yet.