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Zwigato Review: Shahana Goswami Shines in an Earnest Film on Gig Workers’ Plight

Nandita Das' 'Zwigato' starring Kapil Sharma and Shahana Goswami hit theatres on 17 March.

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Time and again, news of people ‘boycotting’ food delivery apps crops up. A cursory read will tell one that people accuse the large companies of exploiting their gig workers with low pay, lack of safety, undue pressure and more. Nandita Das’ latest Zwigato attempts to shine a light on the issue. 

Nandita Das' 'Zwigato' starring Kapil Sharma and Shahana Goswami hit theatres on 17 March.

Kapil Sharma in a still from Zwigato.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

In Zwigato, presented by Applause Entertainment and Nandita Das Initiatives, Manas Mahto (Kapil Sharma) becomes a food delivery executive after he loses his job in a factory.

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With his family, he moves to Odisha from Jharkhand in search for a better life. His family consists of his wife Pratima (Shahana Goswami), their two children, and his ailing mother. 

The audience follows Manas as he goes about his daily routine, punctuated by the loud, jarring noise of a Zwigato notification. Every day, he promises his family he will complete 10 orders but he’s held back by a system that is designed to make him fail.

Nandita Das' 'Zwigato' starring Kapil Sharma and Shahana Goswami hit theatres on 17 March.

Kapil Sharma in a still from Zwigato.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

His success hinges on the customers’ whims and a suffocating ratings system. 

Zwigato explores how gig workers and service industry workers in general are placed in the background by the elite – it’s dehumanising. Even though Manas and Pratima are both written out to be honest, hard-working people, it doesn’t stop others from looking at them with suspicion or disdain at worst. 

Something as commonplace as designating a different lift for service industry workers or domestic help also exposes an elitism that many skirt over in their daily lives.

When it comes to performances, Kapil Sharma makes a decent effort as Manas. The role is starkly different from Sharma’s previous outings and it’s a refreshing change. He does, however, fall behind on introducing layers to his character which could help the audience understand his character better. 

Nandita Das' 'Zwigato' starring Kapil Sharma and Shahana Goswami hit theatres on 17 March.

Shahana Goswami in a still from Zwigato.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

Shahana Goswami, on the other hand, is the star of the show. She is a force to reckon with in the film and manages to slip into the skin of her character effortlessly.

One would find it difficult to fault any aspect of Goswami’s performance in the film. Through Pratima, Nandita Das also explores a gender imbalance in society. 

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Despite being fully aware that they are struggling to make ends meet and with rising prices coupled with fewer job opportunities, the situation might only get worse, Manas refuses to let Pratima work.

His log kya kahenge mentality speaks of the patriarchal notion that puts men and women in boxes of ‘breadwinner’ and ‘homemaker’ that isn’t necessarily true or ideal.

The screenplay by Nandita Das and Samir Patil explores many other facets of today’s socio-economic and political fabric in the film. As Manas and Pratima’s story plays out, there are recurring conversations about political dissent, caste discrimination, how privilege has many layers, and much more. 

Nandita Das' 'Zwigato' starring Kapil Sharma and Shahana Goswami hit theatres on 17 March.

Kapil Sharma in a still from Zwigato.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

One of the film’s best aspects is the decision to incorporate both Hindi and Odia into it, since the film is set in Bhubaneshwar. Oftentimes, films or shows set in a particular city only go as far as to give their characters a generic accent. It’s refreshing to see that pattern break. 

Zwigato’s strength lies in its honesty and authenticity. With a languorous approach to the storytelling, Nandita Das puts her message across beautifully and effectively.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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