The Lift Boy movie review: An optimistic coming-of-age story marred by incomplete writing

Udita Jhunjhunwala

Jan 18, 2019 12:36:24 IST


Director Jonathan Augustin’s debut feature The Lift Boy follows the trials and tribulations – quite literally the ups and downs – in the life of 24 year old Raju Tawde.

Raju (Moin Khan) is an ordinary boy with equally ordinary preoccupations – among them the struggle to pass exams. Four times failed, he is reluctantly considering making a fifth attempt at clearing the final hurdle to becoming a qualified engineer.

His lift-man father has dedicated 30 years of his life to operating the elevator in an upper-crust Mumbai building, in an effort to give his son a leg-up in life.

Education the key to upliftment and Krishna Tawde (Saagar Kale) is determined that his son Raju should have a better life. With the assistance of a fairy godmother, Krishna puts his son through English medium education and encourages him to become either a doctor or an engineer.

 The Lift Boy movie review: An optimistic coming-of-age story marred by incomplete writing

A still from Lift Boy.

But when Krishna takes ill, it is down to Raju to fill in and press the buttons that takes the tenants up and down.

Raju is contemptuous of his father’s job, but after a few days of wearing the uniform and interacting with the tenants he begins to warm to his temporary role. Over the days we see Raju’s attitude changing – not only towards the job but also towards the residents and other workers in the building.

Among the reasons for Raju’s change of heart is the building’s firm but compassionate landlady, Maureen D’Souza (Nyla Masood). He also befriends tenant Princess Kapoor (Aneesha Shah), a young woman burdened by her mother’s unrealised dreams.

Maureen mentors Raju who mentions an interest in the arts – he loves a good book – but he’s equally proud of his elevated almost-engineer status which puts him higher up the food chain than his lift operator father and dishwasher mother.

For a film in which everything is painstakingly mapped out, there is a casualness with the ending. After investing heavily in Raju’s future, the audience needed better understanding of what transpires post his fifth attempt and how he gets to where he is at.

The script abounds with plot liberties, adds flab with sundry characters like Mr. Mistry and repeats conversations in the Tawde home. The scenes between Raju and D’Souza (encumbered by a somewhat unvarying performance by Masood) also get tiresome after a while.

The best lines are awarded to Raju’s buddy Shawn (Damian Alexander D’Souza), a no-filter engineer who rues that an alteration to his “birthday suit” would make him into an “incomplete man”. Khan has the biggest burden, playing the central character that spends hours alone in a lift! He is sometimes given few tools to play with, but displays spikes in the scenes with Shawn, Krishna and Princess.

What the independent-spirited The Lift Boy lacks in terms of limited locations, technical shortcomings and clunky dialogue, it makes up for with good intention, positivity and optimism.

Augustin uses the lift as a metaphor for life and through Raju’s relationship with his father and Mrs. D’Souza, touches on myriad themes ranging from unfulfilled dreams, dignity of labour and legacy to education, social upliftment, compassion etc. If Augustin’s message is that life isn’t about the destination but the journey then the lift is the complete antithesis. In a lift, isn’t the passenger’s journey entirely about the destination?

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Updated Date: Jan 18, 2019 12:36:24 IST