Zwigato Review: Food delivery people have become an integral part of our lives. We can rate and tip them, but how much do we know what goes on behind the scenes while we wait for our food to arrive? Director and co-writer Nandita Das provides an insight into this through Manas Mahto (Kapil Sharma). But it is also a means of talking about the trials and tribulations that a certain section of the society (the working class) has to face because of insufficient employment opportunities.
The film takes the audience through the daily hustle and bustle of Manas as his wife Pratima (Shahana Goswami), despite his disapproval, seeks employment to financially support the family. We soon discover aspects like app companies dangling carrots called ‘incentives’ that lead drivers down the rabbit hole of making maximum deliveries on a daily basis and how they are exploited at various levels. As Psyche laments, ‘He is helpless, that’s why he is a laborer,’ (he is a laborer because he is helpless) correcting a placard slogan that says, ‘He is a laborer, he is forced to‘ (He is compelled because he is a labourer).
The film also sensitively touches upon the class and gender discrimination deeply embedded in our society. The strain of hard work and desperation is palpable throughout the film, making it a poignant watch. Even though one knows that the economy, social order, and politics are interrelated, Zwigato packs in a lot. At times it seems like a series of events are linked together, which disrupts the flow of the narrative. While the first part builds the world at its own pace, the second part also takes things slowly, even dragging in several instances. Several sequences, like an activist Govindaraj (Swanand Kirkire) leading a protest, a person of a different religion being targeted, etc., seem a bit forced-fitted.
As Nandita and co-writer Sameer Patil skillfully weave a relatable story, cinematographer Ranjan Palit vividly portrays the world of ordinary people through the dingy by-lanes of Bhubaneswar, where the story is set. Abandoning the majestic structures and exotic beauty of Odisha adds to the realism of the film. The stop-motion animation when the credits roll as it’s night deserves a special mention.
Shahana’s strength as a performer is familiar, and once again, she pulls off a fine act – from the local Jharkhand accent and gestures to her mannerisms and expressions. Kapil, however, has a revelation in this. He finds his share as a loving but misogynistic husband, eccentric father, frustrated activist and a desperate man. Not even once do you get a glimpse of the over-the-top comedian that he usually is.
Psyche is shown to be highly frustrated with her situation, but to show that life goes on for people like her, the ending is simple, casual, and thus, seems unconvincing.
On the whole, the film moves at a slow pace, which might leave you restless. However, it’s worth a look for its intent and excellent performance. Above all else, what the film effectively does is make you sympathize with people who do odd or trivial things to make our lives simpler. Think about it.