Tara Moss assaulted in Sydney CBD

Tara Moss says a drug-affected man hit her near Hyde Park in Sydney. Photo: Peter Brew-BevanAuthor and model Tara Moss is suffering from shock after she was randomly attacked by a man in the middle of Sydney’s CBD on Wednesday.
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The 40-year-old said she was left with bruises after she was assaulted by a crazed man on Market Street near Hyde Park.

Moss wrote about her horrifying experience on social media and warned people to watch out for her attacker.

“Was just hit by a man in the street. He’s on Market St in dark clothing headed toward Hyde Park. Slim/white. Beware. Suspect drug affected,” she said on Twitter.

“Have spoken to police who will patrol the area – he fits the desc of a known perp. In the meantime be careful in Hyde Park, CBD area, folks.”

Moss has said she was “intentionally punched”.

“I’m okay. It was a random attack. Worried about others so speaking to police now,” she told one of her followers on Twitter.

“I’m bruising up but fine. But there are a lot of families in the park right now, so quite concerned.

The Australian-Canadian crime writer spoke to police near Town Hall following the attack but is yet to make a formal statement.

Many of Moss’ 38,000 Twitter followers wrote her messages of support and posted about their outrage.

The scary attack comes not long after Moss broke her silence about being the victim of a sexual assault.

She recently shared her story with Good Weekend, explaining that her latest novel delved into her experience as a survivor of sexual assault and rape.

The Fictional Woman was not intended as a confessional autobiography, but she said she realised that if she was going to address the fictions in other women’s lives, she had to expose her own.

”I had to write this book because there are things that need to be improved, that matter and influence real people’s lives,” she said.

”But I also had to make it part memoir, because one of the fictions about me is that I’m ‘Teflon Tara’ and nothing has really chinked my armour. What I’ve done with the book is finally throw my armour off, and I feel I’m fit enough underneath the armour that I don’t need it.”

She also told journalist Susan Wyndham that her experience had made her brave and compassionate.

The mother-of-one also said she wanted to fight the misconception that if women were careful they should be all right.

”The problem is that when someone isn’t okay, the tendency is to believe they’ve brought it on themselves, and this is extremely problematic when it comes to sexual violence.”

Moss, who lives in the Blue Mountains, recently finished her tenth book, broke the news about the alleged murder of an asylym seeker on Manus Island and is a UNICEF ambassador.

Ricky Muir and Palmer United Party strike deal to save Australian Renewable Energy Agency

Senator Ricky Muir. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen David Leyonhjelm gets a warm welcome from Doug Cameron. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
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Coalition dealt another $1.5b budget blowThe Pulse Live: Judith Ireland blogs live from Parliament

The Abbott government has suffered yet another blow to its beleaguered budget after being forced to retain tax cut compensation due to start next year, as well as the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

Both were slated to go under the government’s carbon tax repeal package.

Amid growing internal concerns about its management of the new Senate, which is dominated by the crossbench, the government was first defeated on a procedural motion to force the carbon tax repeal to an early vote on Wednesday, and then learnt it would be blocked on the proposed abolition of ARENA.

Otherwise pro-repeal Liberal Democratic Party senator David Leyonhjelm then combined with the Greens, Labor and other crossbench senators to keep $1.5 billion worth of tax relief due to begin from July 1, 2015.

However, the government argued it had already factored in the retention of Labor’s second round of tax cuts, in light of the stated positions of Senator Leyonhjelm and the Palmer United Party. The developments capped off a day in the Senate marked by confusion and a sense the government has little feel for the various positions of the new players on key issues.

In a move nobody saw coming, Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party senator Ricky Muir refused to back the carbon tax guillotine motion even though he is aligned to the Palmer United Party, which backs the carbon tax repeal. The outcome left the government stunned, because it had counted the Victorian in its own column.

Senator Muir, the notional fourth senator in the PUP bloc, had proposed his own amendment to the carbon tax repeal package to save ARENA, prompting a flurry of negotiations.

In a last-minute deal with Clive Palmer, the amendment that would have further delayed the carbon tax repeal was withdrawn in exchange for PUP’s support for keeping ARENA alive, albeit with reduced funding in the short term.

The agency, which undertakes research into new energy forms and methodologies, will now limp on until 2017-18, when its funding is likely to increase under the deal. After first thinking it would achieve its goal to scrap the carbon tax on Wednesday, the government now expects there will be a vote to repeal it by Thursday lunchtime.

The news was a big setback for the government, which this week alone has been rebuffed over some $10 billion in savings it had already booked in its budget projections from scrapping the mining and carbon taxes and a range of spending programs connected to them. Funding will now be needed to finance a lift in the tax-free threshold from $18,200 to $19,400, with more needed to keep ARENA going.

There are also addition costs associated with retaining the Climate Change Authority, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Renewable Energy Target – all of which it had hoped to dump in exchange for its Direct Action policy.

Mr Palmer attempted to explain the outcome by suggesting it had been his preference all along

”We have decided to support the government’s plans to reschedule the agency’s funding,” he said.

”The Palmer United Party will not vote for the government’s other upcoming legislation that seeks to abolish ARENA altogether. I had extensive discussion with former United States vice-president Al Gore about ARENA and was convinced by his arguments in support of this important agency.”

The carbon tax repeal will cut ARENA’s budget by $435 million and will enact a previously announced deferral of $370 million in funding by the former Labor government.

It will leave ARENA with only about $100 million over the next four years for new projects, but blows a $1.3 billion hole in the government’s savings attempts, with that money committed to ARENA beyond the forward estimates.

However, the government believes it can negotiate over coming months to have that $1.3 billion figure significantly reduced.

”I have been a supporter of renewable energy for a long time and I am very pleased with this outcome,” Senator Muir said on Wednesday. ”This is a win-win situation for the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party, the Palmer United Party and the community.”

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Raiders’ Jeremy Hawkins denied NRL debut

Canberra Raiders rookie Jeremy Hawkins is the latest exciting prospect to have his NRL dream put on ice by the competition’s second-tier salary cap.
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Less than 24 hours after Hawkins was named to make his first-grade debut against the Gold Coast Titans at Cbus Super Stadium on Sunday, the NRL denied the Raiders’ application for an exemption on the grounds other players were available in his position.

Former Raiders captain Alan Tongue has called on the NRL to increase the number of players in each club’s top squad from 25 so promising youngsters are not denied the opportunity of being blooded into first grade.

The Raiders reached the limit of the $440,000 second-tier salary cap when hooker Kurt Baptise made his club debut in the 19-18 loss to the Wests Tigers on June 28.

Centre Jack Wighton suffered a broken thumb in the same game, prompting coach Ricky Stuart to call up Hawkins after the 21-year-old crossed for four tries for the Raiders’ NSW Cup affiliate Mounties last weekend.

It is the second year in a row the Raiders have been prevented from handing an NRL debut to a promising youngster. Last season it was halfback Mitch Cornish, who was named to play in the round-26 match with the Cronulla Sharks before he was forced to watch from the sidelines when an exemption to the second-tier salary cap was not granted.

A former NRL coach, who didn’t want to be named, said of the Hawkins’ decision, ”all we’re doing is stunting their progress”.

Raiders chief executive Don Furner was diplomatic with his response, admitting he would have been surprised if the NRL had agreed to their submission.

”It’s disappointing for Jeremy, but we’re confident he’ll get his chance to make his NRL debut with the Raiders in the future,” Furner said. “With injuries to Jack Wighton and a season-ending injury to Edrick Lee earlier this year we were hopeful of an exemption, but we respect the NRL’s decision.”

Each NRL club operates under a $5.5 million salary cap for its top-25 squad, while another $440,000 is set aside for the second-tier salary cap. That was increased from $375,000 last season when the Panthers could not play Matt Moylan once players in the top-25 squad returned from injury.

The Raiders have this season used four players from their extended NRL squad: Baptiste, Matt Allwood, Shannon Boyd and Kyle O’Donnell.

They have also promoted outside back Brenko Lee from the club’s under-20s team.

In making its decision, the NRL said there were players such as Reece Robinson who were available for selection and played the same position as Hawkins.

Tongue said the increased pace of the game and the amount of injuries teams were sustaining should lead to having a bigger pool of players available.

”I definitely think there’s some room to move in that top 25,” Tongue said. “It’s a tough one because how far do you push it and how much leeway do you give to clubs.

”Having two guys injured in your outside backs [Wighton and Edrick Lee] is probably not enough to ask for compensation, there’s a lot of clubs that have done it far worse. It’s all about balancing the roster.”

Everitt back to face old club Sydney

Making his mark: Andrejs Everitt will take on his former club this weekend when Carlton take on Sydney. Photo: Pat ScalaAndrejs Everitt’s switch from Sydney to Carlton is one of those rare trades that is proving a winner for all parties.
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As Everitt prepares to play the Swans for the first time since leaving last year, for the first time in his eight-year career he does not have to look in the rear-view mirror at competition for his spot in the senior team.

The Swans, too, have prospered, with Everitt’s departure paving the way for them to sign former Blue Jeremy Laidler, who has missed just one game in his debut season with the ladder leader.

After spending much of his time in Sydney as a spare parts man for John Longmire, Everitt has thrived playing a more prominent role at Carlton as a midfielder/tagger.

His scalps include St Kilda’s Leigh Montagna, Richmond playmaker Brett Deledio and reigning Adelaide club champion Rory Sloane.

“I’m enjoying that a lot more, having a bit more of an important role,” Everitt said.

“[I’m] not saying it wasn’t an important role at Sydney, but I’m always starting on the ground, in the 18, and having a role on the opposition’s best players.

“That’s what I’ve been doing the last eight weeks. It gives you confidence if you can knock over some of the big players in the game that you can make it at this level.

So well is Everitt playing for the Blues, it seems injury is the only obstacle to him playing every game this season – a feat he has never achieved.

Job security, however, has come at a price for Everitt who, with the Blues well out of finals contention, is in the unfamiliar position of being able to book holidays in September this year.

Not since his debut season in 2007 with the Western Bulldogs has Everitt been part of a club that failed to play finals.

“I was talking to one of the young boys [at Carlton] about it,” Everitt said.

“I was saying my first year at the Bulldogs we came 13th, then every year I’ve been involved in four prelims, a semi and a grand final as well.

“I’ve been pretty fortunate with the teams I’ve been in. It’ll definitely be different come September when there’s no games coming around and we’re on our holidays.”

But it was not until last year that Everitt, who has been on the fringe of senior teams for much of his career, had his first taste of September action when he played three finals for a Swans team ravaged by injury.

But despite playing 20 games, Everitt could see the writing on the wall.

He was one of several Swans coming out of contract forced to wait until the end of the season for a new deal as the club made their surreptitious bid for Lance Franklin.

But Everitt does not believe he was forced out by Franklin. He was offered a contract by the Swans, but one heavily incentive-based, so he and his fiancee decided to move home.

“It was based upon me playing games. Even though I was confident in doing so, I came to the conclusion it was best for us to come back down to Melbourne with both our families and go from there,” said Everitt, who signed a two-year deal, with the option of a third, with the Blues.

“I don’t think I was squeezed out at all.”

Everitt is eager to face his old team but says he does not have a point to prove to coach John Longmire.

“I’m definitely looking forward to it, that’s for sure, but I’m out there to have a good time, play football,” he said.

“There’s a lot of players who move on, same with coaches. It’s just football in the end. It’s a business; that’s what happens.

“I’ll be out there to try my best and it’ll be an added bonus if I play well.

“They obviously thought I wasn’t too bad if they gave me 20 games last year. I won’t go out there angry; I’ll be out there to make my team better.”

Aussie film and TV star Ryan Corr allegedly caught smoking heroin in Bondi

Ryan Corr pictured on the Wolf Creek 2 set with director Greg McLean. Photo: Supplied Corr and John Jarratt in a scene from Wolf Creek 2. Photo: Supplied
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Rising Australian actor Ryan Corr has been charged with possessing a prohibited drug after he was allegedly caught in a Bondi laneway smoking heroin.

Corr, 25, is set to star alongside Russell Crowe in the upcoming film The Water Diviner and was a regular character in local TV series Packed to the Rafters and Underbelly: The Golden Mile.

Just five days after he was apprehended by police on May 27, he won a ‘best performance’ award at a Madrid film festival for his role in Wolf Creek 2 alongside acting veteran John Jarratt.

He was apprehended by police in Castlefield Lane, Bondi, at 1.10pm on a Tuesday. An officer allegedly found a freezer bag full of heroin powder on him.

Fairfax understands he was caught smoking the substance.

Corr, who lives in Chippendale, didn’t attend his first court appearance in Waverley Local Court on Tuesday because he was overseas, court documents state.

The court was told he was likely to plead guilty when he returned and the matter was adjourned to September.

A week after the Bondi incident, Corr left for a three-month stint in Manchester to film a BBC series Banished, described as an “epic” seven-part series charting the lives, loves, relationships and battle for survival of a group of convicts in 18th-century Australia.

The series, which is directed by Redfern Now story producer Jimmy McGovern and also stars David Wenham, has been co-commissioned by BBC Two in the UK and BBC Worldwide in Australia and New Zealand and was endorsed as an official production under the UK/Australian co-production treaty.

A spokeswoman for BBC Worldwide did not wish to comment, saying it was a personal matter for Corr.

A spokeswoman from his Melbourne-based management company, Catherine Poulton Management, said there was “absolutely no comment at this stage”.

Corr has been nominated for two Logies and won the 2011 Australians in Film Heath Ledger Scholarship.

He started acting aged 13 and has also appeared in Blue Heelers, Neighbours, Blue Water High, Silversun and the teen thriller film 6 Plots.

During the filming of Wolf Creek 2, he said he was “petrified for a lot of the day and hyperventilating and screaming and on the verge of vomiting my lunch”.

He told News Limited there was “an emotional hangover” that comes with making a horror film and he would listen to music and talk to his family to relax.

Corr is also scheduled to star alongside Richard Roxburgh in the Sydney Theatre Company’s production of Cyrano de Bergerac later this year, directed by the STC’s artistic director Andrew Upton.

STC spokesman Tim McKeough said the theatre company was not aware of Corr’s arrest for drug possession.

“This is the first we’ve heard of the situation,” he said.

with Andrew Taylor

Like a red with your Red Wedding? Game of Thrones wines are coming, maybe

Don’t mind if I do: Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones.There is no crisis in Game of Thrones that cannot be made better with a cup of wine but after another gripping and grim episode do we need a drink to go with our favourite character or house?
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A Sydney marketing firm of fans thinks so.

The firm, Common Ventures, has created a series of wine labels and marketing for a dozen red and white varieties of wine under the ruling label of ”Wines of Westeros,” dedicated to the houses from the George RR Martin books and television series.

But anyone hoping to throw down a Dothraki red and watch some reruns with the claret flowing on the screen will have to wait. The company is still in talks with some small, independent Australian wineries to make the wines. And then there is the small matter of approval from the show’s maker HBO.

Co-founder of Common Ventures, Damian Damjanovski, says the company hopes to follow the lead of beer company Ommegang Brewery and get permission to market the wines from HBO.

Ommergang Brewery’s most recent beer Fire and Blood, a red beer, was released in the US in March to coincide with the beginning of the fourth season. Common Ventures hopes to have its own HBO-endorsed wine ready for the fifth season next year.

Mr Damjanovski said the firm had begun talks with HBO over the project but will not proceed without approval – lest it get given the King Joffrey crossbow treatment.

”We understand HBO are quite open to approaches like this,” Mr Damjanovski said.

Labels include a dry Targaryen shiraz, a Stark white sauvignon blanc and a more calculating Lannister merlot. Each label is accompanied by a brief explanation about its name and wine association.

For the Stark wine, named after the stoic family, there’s a nod to the infamous Red Wedding: ”Winter is coming. Throw on your furs, summon your direwolf and reject all wedding invitations.”

Also in the sauvignon blanc is the Greyjoy, named after the tough seafaring family and their weak-kneed son, Theon: ”Pick fifty of the best killers, your fastest ship and sail up the Narrow Sea. Whether you’re Ironborn or a tortured plaything, it’s time to take what is yours.”

For the house of Lannister the tagline is: ”When your cellar is filled, you will know the debt is paid. Be wary of incest and betrayal – a sip of this wine may be your last.”

Mr Damjanovski said the project began as something fun to fill in the time between advertising deadlines and other work for staff who were fans of the show.

He said the response so far, without a drop of wine produced, has surprised him.

The wine varieties are not set in iron, with several houses sharing the same wine variety at the moment on Wines of Westeros website, and Mr Damjanovski said there was already some social media debate about whether a Stark wine should be a sauvignon blanc or a cabernet.

”One of the debates we have struggled with is whether to make them more generic or to get them to match carefully with the characteristics of each house,” Mr Damjanovski said.

He said the label designs were a modern take on the house names rather than mock medieval or from the TV series.

Expressions of interest for ordering can be made online only via a “send raven” email button. The average price of a bottle is expected to be $20-$30.

Police swoop on alleged taxi credit card fraud syndicate in Sydney

A fraud racket with the potential to steal the credit card details of hundreds of Sydney taxi users has been dismantled following police raids.
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Several members of the group were arrested last week in a card-cloning den set up in a motel room in Chullora.

Some 800 blank credit cards, as well as laptops, a skimming device and a card encoder were found at the scene.

Police will allege the men were part of a sophisticated fraud syndicate with the potential to net hundreds of thousands of dollars through skimming key details off the magnetic strip on credit cards as they were used in taxis and other locations.

While owners of the affected terminals may not be aware of the illegal activity, police said the technology used by this group was “readily identifiable”: a black device fitted across a standard eftpos terminal. The syndicate would create replica cards from the stolen information and make cash withdrawals and purchases.

Strike Force Hereford 2 became aware of their activities several months ago. The investigation is continuing, but police have confirmed dozens, if not hundreds, of Sydney residents have been affected.

Acting commander of the Fraud and Cybercrime Squad, Detective Acting Superintendent John Watson, told Fairfax Media several members had ties to the taxi industry.

“They were certainly connected in one way, shape or form to the industry. One man was a taxi driver but the person directing the activities wasn’t connected in anyway,” Detective Acting Superintendent Watson said.

Police also raided a unit on Sussex Street in the Sydney CBD, where they say the 28-year-old head of the syndicate was living. Police seized two laptops, mobile telephones, and financial and identification documents.

Five men were arrested in total during the operations: a 28-year-old man from Sydney, a 28-year-old from Potts Point, a 24-year-old from Rockdale, a 29-year old from Moorebank and a 56-year-old from Greenacre. The Greenacre man has been released but will continue to be investigated by police.

The remaining four have been charged with dealing in identification information and possessing equipment for the manufacture of identity documents. The 28-year-old Sydney man has been charged with directing the activities of a criminal group and the other three with participating in one.

“We’ve dismantled this syndicate but we don’t suspect for a second this is the only one. The investigation is still unfolding and we’re asking anyone with information to get in touch,” Detective Acting Superintendent Watson said.

The men will face court later this month.

Essendon veteran Dustin Fletcher no guarantee to return against Collingwood says Dyson Heppell

Dyson Heppell (far left) says Dustin Fletcher (far right) is no certainty of returning Photo: Joe ArmaoOmitted veteran Dustin Fletcher is no guarantee to return to the Essendon team this week in the opinion of teammate Dyson Heppell.
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While 39-year-old Fletcher was has been rested intermittently throughout recent seasons, he was surprisingly dropped for the Bombers’ trip to face Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval last Saturday night. Essendon recorded a stirring over the then ladder-leading Power.

While Heppell expressed a belief that Fletcher probably would return, he conceded that it was ultimately contingent upon an appropriate match-up being found against an undersized Collingwood forward line.

“That’s obviously up to the coaches to see if Fletch has a suitable match-up,” Heppell said on Thursday.

But the mop-haired midfielder- 17 years Fletcher’s junior – was backing the dual premiership defender to return.

“Fletch is an absolute champion and he’s been in some fantastic form this year.”

Essendon’s victory over the Power has pried open the possibility of a finals spot, and with the 10th placed-Bombers only a game behind the 6th-placed Magpies, Sunday’s clash at the MCG looms as a season-defining game.

Heppell was not playing down the game’s significance.

“You certainly do, you certainly have a look where we are in the scheme of things and obviously there’s a group of four or five teams that are still a realistic chance.

“[Finals] have been a goal for us from the start of the season, and that dream’s still alive so very exciting times around the club.”

With fellow midfielder Brendon Goddard out suspended this week, and Jobe Watson still sidelined with his rare hip tendon injury, Heppell is likely to face considerable attention this week from Collingwood tagger Brent Macaffer. Heppell said he was “looking forward to the challenge” posed by Macaffer’s close-checking game should that situation arise.

While agreeing that the absence of Watson and Goddard would be felt, Heppell was upbeat about the opportunity it presented to others.

“You lose that real leadership around the ball, I suppose it’s more so just setting up structures and it’s going to take a good player to stop those two as well.

“Losing BJ’s (Goddard) a massive loss for the club, he’s been in fantastic form but it’s going to give another guy a chance to come in and play his role for the side and I’m really looking forward to the challenge.”

Stephen Dank, the sport’s scientist at the centre of Essendon’s controversial 2012 supplements program spoke on Adelaide radio station 5AA on Tuesday, outlining his belief that the Bombers players knew what they were administered during the period subject to the ASADA investigation.

Heppell declined to weigh in on Dank’s comments.

“With Steve, I actually haven’t heard the comments. I suppose it’s pretty boring guys but I can’t actually comment about the situation because it’s in the courts at the moment.”

Israel ambassador talks Hamas and hummus

Shmuel Ben-Shmuel, Ambassador of Embassy of Israel, testing out the hummus flavoured icecream. Photo: Jamila ToderasIsraeli ambassador Shmuel Ben-Shmuel says countries such as Australia should re-group into a coalition against dangerous extremists.
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At an ice-cream taste-testing in Canberra on Wednesday morning, Mr Ben-Shmuel said like-minded countries in the world should be in a coalition to deter terrorists.

He said Sydneysiders going to fight alongside extremist terrorist groups such as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria in the Middle East showed “the entire civil world is under an onslaught”.

Palestinian militants have fired 150-plus rockets towards major Israeli cities in the past week and Israel has launched a major air assault on Gaza.

The escalation in fighting was sparked by the killing of three Israeli teenagers which Israel has blamed on Hamas and the alleged revenge murder of a Palestinian boy. 

Mr Ben-Shmuel said Hamas’ killing of women and children was driven by an ideology calling for the complete destruction of Israel.

When he made the comments the ambassador was taking part in an emerging tradition for Israeli envoys in Canberra: visiting 55-year-old father of one and ice-cream maker John Marshall.

Former ambassador Yuval Rotem visited often before he finished his posting last year. Mr Ben-Shmuel was invited to try the new hummus-flavoured ice-cream after interest was sparked on Twitter last month following news of the unique flavour coming out of Israel.

Making strange flavours was not new for Mr Marshall, who also has produced other off-the-wall concoctions such as pistachio and vodka and – reminiscent of a sketch by The Two Ronnies – smoky bacon.

He had not seen the sketch before but said he had also been thinking about making a potato chip and brown vinegar ice-cream blend.

Mr Marshall, who before the Israeli ice-cream rendezvous had no connections to the Middle East, said it took him about 30 minutes to come up with the right balance for the hummus ice cream, which was enjoyed by Mr Ben-Shmuel.

“It all started 15 years ago when I bought a two-litre ice-cream machine,” said Mr Marshall, whose home was “cleared” by security before the ambassador arrived.

In the Senate on Wednesday afternoon, Senator Cory Bernardi said the killing of teenagers had been treated differently by Israel and Hamas supporters. He said the former had pledged to charge with the full force of the law those who killed the Arab teenager, while Israel’s enemy had not condemned the murder of the Israeli boys.

How Ritesh Batra became a legend in his own lunch box

Nimrat Kaur stars as Ila in The Lunchbox. Photo: Supplied Irrfan Khan’s curmudgeonly widower Mr Fernandes in The Lunchbox.
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More on The Lunchbox·        Movie session timesFull movies coverage

Ritesh Batra started out with an idea for a documentary and was soon diverted into the world of fiction. His plan, he says, was to make a film about Mumbai’s dabbawallahs, the network of couriers who have been delivering hot food from kitchens to offices for more than 120 years, using bicycles and public transport.

Instead, he found himself thinking about the stories that lay behind these meals and the people who made them. This was the genesis of The Lunchbox, his debut feature, which has been a runaway success in India and overseas.

The first character he dreamed up was Ila, a young woman who lives in an apartment block and uses the service to send a midday meal to her husband every day. The efficiency of the service is legendary: but what would happen, he wondered, if for some reason her lunch box was delivered to the wrong person. From this premise he devised an intricate, beautifully structured tale of repetition and change, of nostalgia and immediacy, hope and expectation.

The meals cooked by Ila (Nimrat Kaur) are delivered – accidentally or providentially – to Saajan (Irrfan Khan), an isolated, lonely accountant headed for retirement. He makes contact with Ila, and notes are passed between them via the lunch boxes.

There’s lightness and darkness in Batra’s film, and developments play out in unexpected and quietly surprising ways. Establishing the right tone for each scene was a balancing act, he says. “Talking to the actors, we were always trying to work out how a thing can be both funny and sad.”

The performers brought different insights and approaches to their roles. Khan, for example, based aspects of Saajan on an uncle with whom he lived for a time. Khaur researched the lives of women who lived in apartments in the same Mumbai district as Ila.

His was a finely calibrated script, but it always left room for flexibility. He wrote the final words of the movie, for example, during the editing process. The scene was meant to be silent, “but the voiceover at the end made it come alive for me. There were a lot of subtle changes at the end.”

Batra grew up in Mumbai and is now based part of the time in New York. He’s not surewhat’s next for him. “Right now, I’m reading a lot of things, trying to figure out what to do next –  scripts, books, all kinds of things.”

The choice comes down to one thing in the end. “When you’re passionate about something, you’ll know it,” he says. “But I would like to make something universal, something that travels.”