Zwigato Review: Nandita Das’s Portrait of India’s Gig Economy Stops Just Short of Being Good

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Manas (Kapil Sharma), an ex-floor manager, is a new prisoner of the gig economy: He works as a food delivery rider for an app called Zwigato. His wife, Pratima (Shahana Goswami), juggles her frantic home-making with part-time gigs as a home masseuse and a mall cleaner.

On paper, Zwigato possesses all the elements of socially critical cinema.The family doubles up as the camera that clicks a snapshot of a nation fraught with cruel contradictions. Manas’s job offers a glimpse into disparate vignettes of a survivalist culture.

I like that Zwigato doesn’t aspire to be a tangible narrative. It’s just one day-in-the-life-of experience after another – and the no-frills rhythm is allowed to lie in the eyes of the beholder. The city of Bhubaneswar, too, is a refreshing change from the places such tales are shot at usually.

The problem with Zwigato, however, is similar to that of Nandita Das’s previous films (Manto, Firaaq). The ideas – driven by the desire to make a broader statement – hijack the internal language of storytelling. Sequences work better than scenes.As a result, the execution feels rushed.

I’m not asking to be manipulated or moved by what’s happening on screen, but I was barely engaged.I was left with lessons about life in India, but very little learning about Indian living. After all, getting that parcel on time is futile if the food itself is bland.