Reported By: Dishya Sharma

Last Updated: March 17, 2023, 08:04 IST

As I sit down to write this review, the doorbell rings with the delivery person dropping off my food order. Now, on a regular day, I would have offered a glass of water and assured him of a good rating, and closed the door. But today, I stood at the door for a little longer, wondering about his family. That’s the impact Nandita Das has left on me with Zwigato.

Based in the city of Bhubaneswar in Odisha, Zwigato puts the spotlight on Manas (played by Kapil Sharma) who trying to make ends meet as a food delivery man after he lost his steady job at a factory. Moving from Jharkhand to Odisha in the hopes of a better standard of living, Manas is now tasked with feeding a house of five, which includes his wife Pratima (played by Shahana Goswami), their two children, and his ailing mother while sustaining his increasingly competitive job.

In a race to complete 10 deliveries a day in the hope of incentives, Manas goes through all kinds of situations, some of which are reported in the news as well. Meanwhile, his wife tries to help by taking odd jobs. The horrible job market situation takes a toll on him and his family. With Zwigato, director Nandita Das puts forward the story of the working class that we see every day but hardly see on the big screen.

Having co-written the film with Samir Patil, Nandita lures you into her carefully layered world and gets you invested in the tale almost instantly. On the surface, Nandita makes you believe that Zwigato is a simple, rather serious slice-of-life story. It serves as a reminder that the delivery executives are at the end of the day people, subtly making you rethink your approach to them, somewhere even urging you to be a tad bit kinder to them.

However, looking at it from a bigger lens, Nandita’s film carefully touches upon the various social discrimination faced by the working class without being preachy or making a political commentary. For example, when Pratima offers to work, Manas urges her to forgo the aspiration because ‘he seems concerned.’ However, when his ailing mother needs assistance and Pratima is a tad bit late, a frustrated Manas yells at her, asking what will happen to his mother if Pratima is working, reminding her again to forgo her aspiration even if it means no money coming into the house.

Or in another scene where social discrimination is seen when the delivery executive is asked not to use the lift or even enter the high-end restaurant because he is a delivery man. These scenes stay with you long after the film ends, showing the impact of good writing and performances. It is surprising to see that Nandita tells not only the tale of the delivery man but also throws light on several social issues in less than a two-hour film. However, in a few parts of the film, the movies stars to feel like mere arrangements of social scenarios with Manas as a pawn, losing your connection with the central character.

The writing is well-supported by actors Kapil Sharma and Shahana Goswami. Although Kapil lets go of his charming, humouristic side for the film to play a serious, struggling delivery man, Nandita ensures to give him a couple of lines to humour his humour. It sort of reminded me that even at the worst of situations, most don’t forget to crack a joke or two to get through.

Kapil conveys the frustration of a working, middle-class man seamlessly, making him all things relatable. If this is how he performs with no humourous strings attached, Kapil should experiment more. Shahana as the demure but aspirational wife makes you want to root for her and her happiness.

While the film is sort of a mirror of society, it might not be everyone’s cup of tea. The film is shot in art-house style cinematography that not everyone will enjoy. The film also doesn’t really have highs and lows or a big ending, unlike usual Bollywood movies, which might bore people. But nevertheless, I’d suggest, if you enjoy cinema, give Zwigato a shot.

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