Manas Mahto (Kapil Sharma) loses his manager’s job during the lockdown and has to become a food delivery agent to make ends meet. His wife Pratima (Shahana Goswami) tries to seek employment as a cleaner in a mall, despite his disapproval. She also moonlights as a masseur and earns some money on the side. Through his day to day dealings, we learn that delivery agents hardly get to earn any money. A negative review eats into their commission and constant negative ratings can get them expelled from the company. They have to bear the callous nature not only of the hoteliers but of the customers as well. Sometimes they also fall prey to false complaints. The system is rigged against them and they really can’t do anything. They have become slaves to a system which exploits them from every direction. They have to face discrimination on a daily basis. For instance, it is shown that some housing societies don’t allow them to use the elevator, there is no job security, and the management too doesn’t care for them. It’s a situation which perhaps we are all aware of but we knowingly turn a blind eye to.
The fact that we’re all somewhere collectively responsible for their plight is perhaps the reason why Zwigato doesn’t make for an easy watch. The director has captured the helplessness of the marginalised section of the society perfectly. The lesson here is that if we can’t help them in any way, we should not add to their troubles. The least we can do is to be kind to them and acknowledge them as people and not robots. The larger fear is that by not acknowledging their existence, we are somewhere endangering our own humanity.
But their lives aren’t just made of sadness and shadows. There is joy and light there as well. Manas banters with his children cheerfully even on the harshest of days. He loves to interact with his wife at the end of the day. Their smiles hold a depth of meaning for each other. At the end of the film they are shown riding a motorbike together parallel to a track, racing against a train, laughing their hearts out. It’s their escape from reality. A small victory but a victory nevertheless…
Kapil Sharma is known for his stand-up routines but has broken the mould here and has excelled as the everyman who is at the losing end of a fight but hasn’t given in. He has lost himself in the character and looks ripe for dramatic roles in future. Shahana Goswami is as dependable as ever and never puts a foot wrong. She’s done everything the role demands of her and more. We should be seeing more of her in films.
Watch the film for the reality of the invisible people which it has captured, as also for the fine performances essayed by both Kapil Sharma and Shahana Goswami.
Trailer : Zwigato Zwigato Zwigato
Dhaval Roy, March 17, 2023, 11:30 AM IST
Zwigato Story: Manas loses his job as a floor manager at a factory and takes up a gig as a delivery guy for a food delivery app. The movie follows his everyday life, which is replete with ratings, penalties, and running behind incentives. Things go awry in his otherwise warm family life when his wife Pratima decides to join a mall as the cleaning staff.
Zwigato Review: Food delivery people have become integral to our lives. We may rate and tip them, but how much do we know about what goes on behind the scenes as we wait for our food to arrive? Director and co-writer Nandita Das offers an insight into that through Manas Mahto (Kapil Sharma). But that’s also a means to talk about the trials and tribulations a certain class of society (labour class) faces due to inadequate employment opportunities.
The film takes the viewer through Manas’s daily hustle as his wife, Pratima (Shahana Goswami), seeks employment to support the family financially, despite his disapproval. We soon discover facets such as app companies dangling the carrot called ‘incentives,’ which takes the drivers down the rabbit hole of making maximum deliveries daily and how they are exploited at various levels. As Manas laments, ‘Woh Majboor Hai, Liye Mazdoor Hai,’ (He’s a labourer because he’s helpless) correcting a placard slogan that says, ‘Woh labor hai, liye majboor hai‘ (He’s helpless because he’s a labourer).
The movie also sensitively touches upon the class and gender discrimination deeply embedded in our society. The tension of drudgery and desperation is palpable throughout the film, making it a poignant watch. Even though one knows that the economy, social system, and politics are interrelated, Zwigato packs in too much. At times it seems like a series of events stitched together, which hampers the flow of the narrative. While the first half builds the world at its own pace, the second part also takes things forward slowly, even dragging in many instances. Several sequences, such as an activist Govindraj (Swanand Kirkire) holding a protest, a man of a different faith being targeted, etc., seem slightly force-fitted.
As Nandita and co-writer Samir Patil adeptly present a relatable story, cinematographer Ranjan Palit masterfully depicts the commoner’s world through the dingy bylanes of Bhubaneshwar where the story is set. Skipping Odisha’s majestic structures and exotic beauty adds to the film’s realism. The stop-motion animation when the credits roll as Yeh Raat plays deserves a special mention.
One is familiar with Shahana’s prowess as a performer, and once again, she pulls off a fine act — from the local Jharkhand accent and body language to her mannerisms and expression. Kapil, however, is a revelation in this one. He gets his part as a loving but conditioned to be a misogynistic husband, snarky father, frustrated worker and a desperate man bang-on. Not once will you get a glimpse of the over-the-top comedian that he usually is.
Manas is shown to be profoundly frustrated with his situation, but in a bid to show that life goes on for people like them, the end is simplistic, abrupt, and, thus, seems unconvincing.
Overall, the film unfolds at a lazy pace, which could leave you restless. However, it is worth a watch for its intent and fine performances. Above everything else, what the movie effectively does is leave you with empathy for those who do odd or menial jobs to make our lives simpler. Think about it.