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Sunday, December 3, 2023

LIFF 2019: The Lift Boy Movie Review

The Lift Boy is a heart-warming entertainer that will leave you smiling from ear to ear and will be screened at the London Indian Film Festival.

When his father falls ill, 24-year-old lay-about Raju (Moin Khan) is forced to take up his dad’s job as a lift boy at a posh apartment complex in Mumbai.

As an aspiring engineer, despite having failed his exams four times, Raju detests having to do what he considers menial work, believing it is beneath him.

However, over time he learns that the job is more than just being confined to the lift.

As he gets to know the residents of the apartment building, as an inspiring connection begins to blossom with Maureen D’Souza (Nyla Masood), the owner of the complex.

Shatters Stereotypes of Class Disparity and Jobs 

The Lift Boy breaks stereotypes that jobs are not determined by class.

We see an educated, modern boy of today who pursues a job that would be typically done by a less-educated, non-English speaking people.

However, the film shatters the traditions that no person or qualification is ‘big enough’ to not do a certain job.

Very subtlety, the movie focuses on how there is no need to feel ashamed of one’s job.

Especially because he is ashamed to admit that his father is a lift-boy. Thus, the movie emphasises the themes of acceptance as well as coming-of-age.

Throughout the film, we see him mature and learn about life struggles.

Even his friendship with the rich-girl Princess (Aneesha Shah), he understands that familial pressures are not just limited to class.

It is a universal burden, which many will be able to resonate with.

His bond with the boss Mrs D’Souza is very amiable to watch. It is refreshing to see how a manager does not have to necessarily horrible to seem assertive.

Subsequently, she also becomes like an angelic and counsellor figure to Raju. There is a very strong human interest angle to the film.

Symbolism and Metaphors

Though one might feel that Raju is a brat, the truth is that he is gullible and feels a sense of disappointment.

He always wanted to pursue writing but was forced to study engineering.

The theme of being forced to choose between dreams vs family pressure which is quite reminiscent of films like 3 Idiots, Wake Up Sid and even Tamasha (to a certain extent).

But the film is highly relevant and acts as a gentle reminder especially to the youth of today.

In the lift, Raju constantly meets people of various classes: the low, middle and high. It’s interesting how this lift acts as a metaphor of life.

The director employs various aspects to symbolise Raju’s ideologies.

For instance, we see him leave his mother’s tiffin with of fresh food for a pasta that that is a leftover. This symbolises his desire to pursue a lifestyle that contrasts to the status quo.

Each time, he comes to the building, the watchman is shown to be sleeping. That also reflects Raju’s naïvety towards life and how his eyes are metaphorically shut from seeing the reality of life.

Organic Acting and Performances

The beauty of this film is that the actors chosen for the role are not glamorous nor do they seem like conventional ‘Bollywood’ actors. These are very authentic artists.

Plus, the viewer feels empathy and sentiments towards each character which is what makes The Lift Boy a pleasant watch.

Moin Khan, firstly, is effortless as Raju. He captures every nuance correctly as a young, aspirational guy from Mumbai. 

His body language changes when he speaks Hindi and English, highlighting the different mannerisms in both cultures.  

Nyla Masood is natural as Mrs D’Souza. Her warm and gracious personality makes us enamour her as an actor and as the character. 

Both Khan and Masood share an amiable synergy with each other, especially in the second-half.

Aneesha Shah is decent as Princess, an affluent girl who is pressured into becoming a movie star. She does well in the parts she is given.

Saagar Kale and Neha Bam are organic as Raju’s parents. Whilst they are less wealthy, it is good to see that they are not living in doom and gloom about it.

What could be improved?

Cinematically, the film is beautiful.

However, some may opine that the film is quite simplistic in its narrative and at times gets quite repetitive. Plus, some may even predict the ending.

The bond between Raju and Princess could’ve been developed more.

Given that both come from differing classes, it would’ve been nice for both of them to explore each others’ lifestyles.

As such, the film requires patience did for the characters and storyline to evolve. But these are just minor improvements.

The beauty of this film is that it maintains our attention throughout. As mentioned in the film, it’s not about the destination, but the journey.

Indeed the journey is pleasant. On the whole, The Lift Boy is a feel-good and emotional movie.

Cinematically, it is effective and is unconventional. At the same time, there are social references which make the movie relevant to the current world we live in.

A strongly recommended watch.

⭐⭐⭐.5 (3.5/5 stars)

The Bagri Foundation London Film Festival celebrates a decade of bringing the best new South Asian films to the UK, with 5 cities, 25 venues and 25 specially curated films.

It starts on 20th June 2019 in London continues until 8th July 2019, at cinemas across the UK.

For more on the festival, please visit: http://londonindianfilmfestival.co.uk/

Watch the festival trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNdLixFRPf0

Anuj Radia
Journalist and film enthusiast.

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