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The Lunchbox ending explained – What happens to Saajan and Ila’s romance as their fates intervene

The Lunchbox ending explained – Starring Irrfan Khan and Nimrat Kaur the plot revolves around a young housewife and a middle-aged accountant as their fates intertwine with a mix-up of dabbawallas.

The Lunchbox ending explained – What happens to Saajan and Ila’s romance as their fates intervene
Irrfan Khan in a still from The Lunchbox

Last Updated: 07.51 PM, May 26, 2024


Ritesh Batra’s drama film The Lunchbox is one of the highly acclaimed movies that leaves a lasting impact on the viewers. Whether it is Mumbai’s setting or Irrfan Khan’s magnificent screen presence, The Lunchbox garnered acclaim for its realistic narrative and the unlikely tale of romance layered with the complexities of life. Starring Irrfan Khan and Nimrat Kaur in her breakthrough role, the plot revolves around a young housewife and a middle-aged accountant as their fates are intertwined with a mix-up of dabbawallas.

The Lunchbox plot

The story begins with Ila (Nimrat Kaur), a regular housewife in Mumbai’s apartment complex, cooking and packing a delicious lunchbox for her working husband. However, due to a major mix-up, her box is delivered to Saajan Fernandes (Irrfan Khan), an accountant who will soon retire. When Ila realises the mistake, she writes a short letter-type note to Saajan and explains everything. This marks the beginning of a string of wholesome conversations that continue to take place at the eponymous lunchbox.

The lunchbox
The lunchbox

The Lunchbox’s open ending hints at a happy reunion?

When Ila and Saajan’s letters strike an unlikely friendship and a bond between the two, they start enjoying their conversations. However, Ila’s life takes a heartbreaking turn when she learns of her husband Rajiv’s infidelity. We finally get the answers to her husband’s rude behaviour towards her. When Ila learns that Rajiv is having an extramarital affair, all her hopes to save her marriage get shattered. Later, she tells Saajan everything, along with her wish to leave Rajiv and move to Bhutan. Saajan’s surprising reply to moving there together prompts Ila to write a letter and finally meet. However, she is stood up in a restaurant as Saajan does not meet her, despite watching her from a distance. In the letter, he apologizes to Ila and explains his helplessness because she is too young for him and would’ve only resulted in disappointment.


Meanwhile, when Ila’s father dies and her mother reveals how she lived her entire life in an unhappy marriage, Ila is inspired to step out of her comfort zone and decides to meet Saajan in his office.

In the end, Ila is seen reaching Saajan’s office with her daughter, only to find that Saajan has already left for Nasik as he planned after retirement. The new accountant Aslam helps Ila call a taxi to go home, while Saajan is sitting in a train with an old man when he suddenly has a change of heart and deboards the train with a new hope and beginning.

Saajan and Ila's relationship

In a surprise open ending, Ila is seen pondering upon her decision to leave everything and pack for Bhutan, while imagining Saajan’s new life in Nasik. As Ila waits for her daughter to return from school, Saajan is seen inquiring with the dabbawalas about Ila’s address.

The makers have left fans to imagine their own versions of Ila and Sajan’s ending. One of them is Ila’s new beginning in Bhutan as she embarks on a journey of self-discovery with her daughter before Saajan could arrive at her house. The other ending showcases the duo finally meeting and living a fulfilling life together, maybe in Nasik or Bhutan.

The Lunchbox beautifully explores loneliness in the glamourous city of Mumbai, where finding a true companion is nothing short of a miracle. From Saajan’s anti-social behaviour to his new humble personality after having the sweet encounter with Ila, the movie reflects how someone’s presence can stir a change in heart. The poignant open ending has left fans creating their own happy ending for the couple without worrying about their social differences and their fates.

The Lunchbox is available to watch for free on YouTube or Dailymotion.

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