Cast: Kapil Sharma, Shahana Goswami
Director: Nandita Das
Rating: 3 Moons
"Majboor hai isiliye mazdoor hai," says Kapil Sharma in one of the finest scenes in his latest film, Zwigato and we are sold. Did you ever imagine the master of comedy showing extreme grip over the genre of drama and making the atmosphere somber and not humourous? Well, director Nandita Das achieves the impossible and projects Kapil in a completely different light, something we've been craving from him for the longest.
Zwigato (supposedly derived from Swiggy and Zomato food delivery apps) touches upon a topic that's least explored, at least in mainstream Hindi cinema. Nandita wastes no time in establishing the story. From the word go, the audience is taken inside the small and uncertain life of Manas (Kapil Sharma) who is working as a Zwigato partner to make ends meet. But is that enough to survive?
Director Nandita Das knows what to show her audience and aims the arrow at her target group. Zwigato isn't another urban cinema; it is meant to be grim, dark and heavy to digest. While not being a chest-beating preachy film, it manages to subtly inject messages of casteism, religious discrimination in society, poverty and unemployment. In one of the scenes, a delivery partner asks Manas to deliver a parcel inside a temple since he cannot do so as he's a Muslim and wants to avoid trouble. We've been reading about similar cases of late in different parts of the country. Zwigato, if not relatable to all, is a timely film that cashes on to the factor of relevance and growing necessity of food delivery apps. One thing is for sure that post-Zwigato, you will look at delivery boys with a different and empathetic lens. Sympathy isn't what they expect and that's how it should be.
The idea of Zwigato is unique and excites you the minute the title hits your ears. Despite the curiosity that the casting, director and title build up, the execution is far away from perfection. It leaves you in the middle of nowhere by the end of the story. The narrative fails to project what's the final aim of Zwigato. Is it to show the life of an ordinary food delivery person or just the struggle he goes through without achieving success at making things better for himself and his family of five? The open ending gives birth to scattered thoughts which isn't a cup of tea for a large chunk of the Indian audience. There's no concrete reason given to support the idea of making Manas a delivery boy instead of choosing any other job. All that goes on in the film is solving queries such as how many deliveries will Manas complete for incentives and why is he failing to achieve the target.
In fact, more than Manas, who is the central character, his wife Pratima (Shahana Goswami) gets a layered and stable role to play. Atleast, she tries to explore different possibilities in order to help her husband manage household expenses. The children are fun to watch but serve no purpose to the film. The son is primarily used to show how Manas fails to complete his target due to his responsibilities at home in Pratima's absence. Zwigato starts on the right track by building curiosity and evoking hunger for watching an unconventional film. The commentary on society's unjust methods, 'the rich gets richer and poor gets poorer' system of societal functioning and the portrayal of the wife steal the cake. The usage of Odia in the film adds to the authenticity.
It is time to recognise Kapil as an actor and not just as a comedian. He has often delivered laughs through his shows and gags but with Zwigato, he kicks the ball out of the park with his serious side. Drama comes naturally to him and it is a treat to watch him shed his Punjabi-ness and display a certain degree of calmness and poise. His dedication towards the film and command over the screen enhance Zwigato.
Zwigato has been marketed as an out-n-out Kapil Sharma film but that's not completely true. The real performer who grabs your attention is Shahana Goswami as Pratima. Carrying the shyness of a lower-class woman who has never experienced the outer world, she plays Manas' demure wife with grace and balance. The actress fits the role perfectly and shines throughout. When she sets free from the boundaries of her small home by choosing to work as a cleaner in a mall, there's a twinkle in her eyes, especially the moment she wears her new uniform. One must watch the film for Shahana. Rightly said in Zwigato, she might be delicate-looking but she possesses the strength of an 'elephant'.
Sayani Gupta's cameo is enjoyable. She's strong, aptly suits the role and leaves behind an impact. The rest of the cast gets limited scope to perform. In whatever screen time they get, they try their best to ably support Kapil and Shahana.
Zwigato is a good concept on paper and delivers to an extent. However, the distance between the characters and the audience is never reduced. You might feel for them but cannot relate completely. The full potential of the story is not explored. This makes Zwigato a mixed bag.
PeepingMoon gives Zwigato 3 Moons