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Zwigato Movie Review: Nandita Das’ insightful take on the gig economy suffers from a failed delivery- Cinema express

Zwigato Movie Review: Nandita Das’ insightful take on the gig economy suffers from a failed delivery

Kapil Sharma and Shahana Goswami give alluring performances but it’s not enough to elevate the bland storytelling

Published: 17th March 2023

The life of gig workers is great fodder for cinematic telling. The newspapers are riddled every day with tales of the plight of delivery personnel. They are vilified on social media for sneaking a bite from the food package. They aren’t allowed to use the lift, and if they do, they end up getting bitten by the dog of an apathetic owner. They are refused payments and sometimes even get stabbed to death if they ask for one.

Nandita Das’ Zwigato , however, doesn’t venture into these extremes. It chooses to narrate the daily struggles of a gig worker but even at that it swims mostly on the surface, occasionally taking a deep dive. The film meanders in the story of Manas (Kapil Sharma), his wife Pratima (Shahana Goswami) and their two school-going children. Manas lost his job as a factory manager during the Covid-19 pandemic and is now employed as a delivery partner for Zwigato, a food delivery app. Pratima is a homemaker seeking job opportunities to contribute to the family budget, at the cost of irking her husband’s inherent patriarchy.

Starring: Kapil Sharma, Shahana Goswami, Sayani Gupta

Directed by: Nandita Das

Zwigato starts off as an alluring slice-of-life drama. It proceeds at a calming pace. We are introduced to the characters going by their lives. Manas’ routine consists of refueling his bike, while listening to the incessant blabber of the gas station worker. He then battles the heat and rides through the twisted lanes of Bhubaneswar, trying to do the Sisyphean task of making ten deliveries every day. His encounters with fellow gig workers, customers and restaurant owners trot the plot. Some of them are ominous, like that of a haggard man running after him asking if deliveries can be made on a cycle. Others are subtly insightful into the religious divide in the country, like a Muslim delivery boy pleading Manas to make the delivery for him, since it is inside a temple.

The film is beaded with such moments but they only serve as blips and the narrative fails to leave a lasting impact as a whole. It feels too rushed from one incident to another and none of them are inciting enough to catapult the story. Zwigato gets too entangled in nuances and leaves an urge for more. The performances seem restrained by the paucity of the narrative. Comedian Kapil Sharma gives an enchanting act. His Manas, weighed down by the burden of daily chores, emotes and converses with a perpetual tiredness. He silently gulps down the sly taunts by his son and doesn’t rebuke him even once. However, Sharma’s performance becomes one-note after a while as there is no pull provided by the script. Shahana Goswami feels underutilised. Still, she shines in the few scenes given to her, especially in one where she stares at a TV screen, awe-struck by an ice-skating performance. The storytelling provides the viewer less time with Shahana’s Pratima and as a result her character development seems abandoned.

Zwigato, at times, seems too content with its storytelling, so much that it is unwilling to go the extra mile. It relies heavily on the audience to fill in the feelings. In the horde to be less melodramatic and commercial, Zwigato borders on drudgery. In a weak attempt at ‘art’ cinema, the film loses the plot.


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