Zwigato: A slice of life drama told gently

You won’t find Nandita Das and her co-writer Samir Patil juicing the tragic circumstances of her delivery boy Manas (Kapil Sharma) for tears in this gently effective drama

Zwigato: A slice of life drama told  gently

Subhash K Jha

How does one deal with life when it serves you juiceless lemons?

You won’t find Nandita Das and her co-writer Samir Patil juicing the tragic circumstances of her delivery boy Manas (Kapil Sharma) for tears in this gently effective drama of fringe employment, produced by Applause Entertainment.

This well-cut nugget has no room for tears. Kapil’s Zwigato delivery-boy delivers a performance that is keenly observant of reality: the languorous paunchy body language, the endless rounds on two-wheelers, handling difficult insulting customers at work, an invalid mother and two children at  home…Kapil brings the entire force of destiny down on his character’s shoulder without making him a crybaby.

There is a beautiful  moment where Manas put his head on his ailing mother’s lap. His wife Pratima walks in, sees the mother and son together, walks out quietly.

This is my favourite moment in a film that otherwise doesn’t care to create ‘moments’ for the audience to get empathetic. The tone of narration is  muted and matter-of-fact. Nandita seldom, if ever, plays for effect. Even when there is potential for sentimentality she  avoids any dramatic highs to get our attention.

Take the  ending where Manas discovers a saddening secret about his wife’s nature of employment. This calls for some serious tantrums.

Instead, Manas takes his wife on a  mo’bike race with a train: something, we presume, she loved doing when life was relatively more comfortable and carefree.

It’s a beautifully sketched moment torn out of life’s most precious chapter; when everything seems bleak you find  a light and celebrate darkness.

Although the film is a little heavy with statistics and numbers on the  unemployed, to her credit, Nandita Das doesn’t allow a pall of gloom to descend on her narration. There are no lengthy dialogues or pumped-up polemics to prod our conscience. Throughout, the atmosphere is light and hopeful even in the darkest  moments when Manas encounters the  nastiest of customers.

Prudently the director uses a lot of local Odia talent for secondary roles. In the lead Kapil Sharma and Shahana Goswami as a post-Covid couple struggling to keep their heads above the water, are pitch-perfect, Goswami more so than Sharma.

Ranjan Palit’s camera lenses Bhubaneswar as a town crowded by crisis  but redeemed by hope. You may not be in a position to be optimistic. But this film shows us the path to a bleak but hopeful future.

Follow us on: Facebook, Twitter, Google News, Instagram 

Join our official telegram channel (@nationalherald) and stay updated with the latest headlines