Film: “The Lift Boy”; Director: Jonathan Augustin; Cast: Moin Khan, Nyla Masood, Saagar Kale, Aneesha Shah, Damian D’souza, Neha Bam, Nil Mani, Kaustubh Narain, Shilpa Iyer; Rating: **1/2
Debutant director Jonathan Augustin’s “The Lift Boy”, is a simple coming-of-age film which is deeply grounded in its character and his realisation. It is indeed a pleasant, sunshine film that holds your attention.
Raju Tawde, the son of an elevator operator, is an aspiring engineer. Due to his lackadaisical attitude and lack of interest in engineering, he is unsuccessful in clearing his papers even after four attempts.
Circumstances force him to fill in for this father, at work. Initially he finds the job demeaning, wearing his attitude on his sleeve, he rants to his mother, “main engineer hoon”. She cajoles him, but at the same time reveals some harsh home truths of how she and his father have sacrificed so that he becomes an engineer, and that, he is not yet an engineer, to start fretting.
Resigned to his fate, Raju goes over to meet Maureen D’Souza (Nyla Masood) the landlady of the building, who promptly lets him take his father’s place till he returns.
Over the period of days how Raju’s attitude changes while interacting with Maureen and her tenants especially – Mr. Mistry, Mrs. Kapoor and her daughter Princess and their maid Lata, forms the crux of the tale.
“The Lift Boy” is one of those rare pieces of filmmaking that stays completely focused on its protagonist while dealing with universal themes about identity, family and most of all about; fear, morality, embarrassment, happiness and struggle. In short as the director puts it, “the film like the movement of the lift, deals with the ups and downs of life”. And yet it’s never preachy or moralising.
The story tugs at your heart emotionally. Writer-director Augustin is a capable director and he delivers on all fronts. He has managed to extract fairly decent results from his entire cast and technical team.
Moin Khan is sincere and convincing as the cheeky lad Raju Tawde. So is Costume Designer Nyla Masood who debuts in this film as the kind and considerate Maureen D’souza. Saagar Kale and Neha Bam as Raju’s concerned parents Krishna and Laxmi are equally natural.
The script is a bit amateurish in parts. While certain scenes are lazily designed, the humour seems forced and juvenile in some scenes. Case in point are; the tenant – Mr. Mistry’s rant about having to buy diamonds for his wife or his friend Shawn’s tirade.
The dialogues are witty. Some peppered with innuendoes are funny and corny at the same time. Ashish P. Verma’s colloquial lines in Hindi give the film its required punch.
On the visual front, with simple static frames, the film captures the essence of the narrative with flair.
Overall, with moderate production values, the film appears to be light and frivolous but in reality is loaded with impressive middle class values. It makes an impact and as how one of the characters mentions, “It is not about the destination, it is about the journey”.