Movie: Zwigato. Duration: 104 minutes
Director: Nandita Das. Cast: Kapil Sharma and Shahana Goswami
Cinematography: Ranjan Palit. Music: Sagar Desai/Hitesh Soni
New India is multi-dimensional, multiple-choice with many affluent people being spoiled for choices while choosing an occupation. But despite all the so-called growth, many other categories of young men and women from the middle class are under pressure to find age- and skill-appropriate employment.
For the alpha generation, e-commerce food delivery companies are a boon, as they cater to the needs and orders of customers who are more demanding and have more flexibility on how and when to order their food. And have control. But that’s for the customers; The employees of such businesses have to bear the brunt of it.
A double-edged sword for the unemployed in India, the sudden rise in the number of delivery services has created a Catch-22 situation. They have, in some ways, earned some income for those out of a job, barely giving the ‘delivery boys’ the respect they deserve.
Nandita Das’ third directorial debut (after the critically acclaimed ‘Firaaq’ and the equally sensitive ‘Manto’), ‘Zwigato’ encapsulates all the alternate vicissitudes that India and its economy are facing today. She tells a story without being overly critical and leaves the harsh and ugly realities as well as the unmasked emotional moments as they should be.
An accomplished actor-director Nandita Das will come up with a story that makes it a compelling watch. What is pleasantly surprising is the subject he has chosen as the subject of the film.
Using a trope that India is all too familiar with – namely, the food delivery app, she explores the challenges ordinary people face in a social environment that offers few options for those struggling. There is also an underlying political stagnation. Without being preachy, she lets viewers trace the ups and downs of the unbalanced society we live in.
At the center of the 104-minute narrative is Kapil Sharma, who plays Manas Mahto, a migrant from Jharkhand who, along with his wife Pratima (Shahana Goswami), two children and ailing mother, come to a sprawling Bhubaneswar to explore possibilities. Are. decent life.
After losing his floor manager job at a firm, he finds nothing solid and is forced to work as a food delivery rider, battling the world of ratings and incentives with apps on his phone. His everyday struggle is painful as he works hard to face the right time for delivery to meet his needs.
The psyche is not alone in the fight for existence; Pratima too, not satisfied with being just another housewife, looks for various work opportunities to support her husband’s income. And so, from being a masseuse to rich ladies to cleaning malls, she tries her hand at everything. At the heart of their efforts is their tremendous drive and desire to improve their lives.
In one scene, when the couple learns that Manas’s elder brother and family will be visiting, she decides to stitch together old sarees and bedsheets to divide a room they have so that the visiting family can Could be a separate area. She tries to accommodate her guests with all her heart, not letting her extra work come in the way of her eagerness to be hospitable.
Meanwhile, Manas faces many hurdles in making every effort to earn just Rs 15 per delivery. One example is when a couple mistakenly ordered 20 pizzas in the middle of a party in an apartment. When Manas arrives with the order, he is greeted with bottles of liquor and other remnants of the party, and is even treated worst by the flat owner, who tells him to leave just two pizzas and the rest asks to be taken.
The place the couple live in isn’t even a proper home – it’s a living arrangement at best – but it’s full of the warmth of a home. Manas and Pratima and even their daughter clean the bedridden mother without hesitation, whose incontinence problems never seem to bother, or become irritable. Every member of the family simply does his duty without any question.
Manas and people like him, who are almost slaves of their ruthless employers, just play along without asking any questions. If there’s one thing that bothers Manas, it’s getting customers to express their gratitude to him. It is not that he expresses any displeasure openly.
Best of all, he reposts a caption that says “Mazdoor hai tabhi majboor hai!” (We are poor laborers and hence weak and defenceless!) with the lament, “Majboor hai tabi mazdoor hain” (We are helpless, therefore we are labourers!).
At first glance, the film appears to be the story of an easy-going guy who doesn’t often let his frustrations get the better of him, except perhaps when his dignity threatens to be compromised. A scathing comment here and an oblique – at times even direct – allusion at times to the class divide that is so apparent in India, making the film a very layered and poignant effort.
Kapil Sharma as Manas plays the role of a victim of his much-acclaimed status as the undisputed king of comedy. The viewers will be pleasantly surprised to see that he has lost the image that has earned him millions of fans across the world. He gets into the character of Manas with such ease that his fans can be forced to do a double act. At some places he acts like a seasoned actor.
His co-actor Shahana Goswami as Pratima is note-perfect and most of her silences and pauses speak for her undeniable talent as a consummate actor. If Kapil effortlessly slips into playing Manas, she brings a quiet dignity and unreserved sensitivity to her role. Sayani Gupta and Gul Panag’s cameos may be small but very believable.
The understated photography by Ranjan Patil conveys the stark contrast between the filth and occasional pallor of Manas and Shahana’s lives against the stark backdrop of Bhubaneshwar and the glitz of the sprawling mall.
The film is a social commentary, but it does not leave any didactic message for the audience. But if the takeaway is anything, it would make arrogant and affluent consumers of home delivery do a serious rethink on their sense of entitlement when it comes to dealing with porters, carriers and delivery men.