Nandita Das


The story

Zwigato chronicles four days in the life of Manas. After losing his job as a floor manager in a factory, he is forced to work as a food delivery rider, grappling with the app on his phone and the world of ratings and incentives. He struggles to make ends meet for his wife, two children and an ailing mother. Pratima, his wife and homemaker, begins to explore different work opportunities to support the income. The fears of a new experience are coupled with the joys of a newfound independence. It is the story of the relentlessness of life for Manas and Pratima, but not without their shared moments of joy. The film captures the lives of invisible ‘ordinary’ people that are hidden in plain sight.

Director’s note

Zwigato was born during the pandemic. We consumers, for our own convenience, became more and more dependent on the gig workers and less and less aware of their struggle. I first thought it would be challenging to humanise the world of algorithms, ratings and incentives. But as I delved deeper into it, the story became not just about the protagonist, but also the world they inhabit with its normalised disparities of class, caste, religion and gender. They have all subtly found their way into the film, making the invisible, visible.

The film is a homage to Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times, which was made in the 1930s, at the height of industrialization and captured the deep-seated anxiety about the tussle between man and machines. Today we face a similar struggle between man and algorithms. The gig economy has become one of the largest employment sectors but also has posed new challenges for its workers. I feel the story is timely, universal and deserves to be told.

Zwigato is a slice-of-life film. The treatment is candid and life-like. Kapil Sharma, popular as a comedy host, plays the protagonist with intensity. I teamed up again after Firaaq with Shahana Goswami, a powerful versatile actor, to play the female protagonist. I shot the film in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, a city barely seen in Hindi films. Most actors were local, with varying degrees of acting experience. Together they helped in creating an authentic world, which is all so familiar, and yet, has been seldom seen on screen.

Zwigato had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, Asian premiere at the Busan International Film Festival and the Indian premiere at the International Film Festival of Kerala. The film was released on 17th March 2023 and touched many hearts. It garnered much appreciation from audiences and critics alike.

Year : 2022

Language : Hindi & Odiya

Festivals :

World Premiere at Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), 2022.

Asian Premiere at Busan International Film Festival (BIFF), 2022.

Indian premiere at International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK), 2022.


Those we know

“It was a profoundly compassionate film. It managed to be gentle even in its rage. What was on display throughout your film was on the one hand the struggles of ordinary people from who have been stolen cruelly, all hopes of a decent future, and on the other the indifference to them of people of privilege.”

- Harsh Mander, Author, Columnist & Social Activist

“I was so moved. It's a film that works on many levels. On a macro level it's about the food delivery industry, something that is just on the edge of our consciousness but through Kapil Sharma’s character you begin to understand how it works. You begin to root for his character and you want him to do well. Shahana Goswami is faultless, it is a pitch-perfect performance. Kapil Sharma is moving and really melts into the role seamlessly; it's a real joy. I think it's Nandita Das’s best directorial venture.”

- Rahul Bose, Actor

“Excellent! Layered! Complex and excellent acting music and direction. Brava!”

- Aparna Sen, filmmaker

“You have made such a lovely film: elegiac, spare, purposeful, sharp, and crafted with so much of heart. Your film shines the light on the grimness of the Indian gig economy, but it has such compassion and dignity, and it doesn’t need to shout and deliver its message. And that ending, so heartwarming and upbeat.”

- Sambit Bal, Editor in Chief ESPN

“Through small incidence and thoughtful dialogue, you depicted the underbelly of the exploitative gig economy and the havoc it creates for people and their families who get crushed! I broke down completely and could relate to so many of those people and their plight that I see and hear each day…This is indeed your best film!"

- Anita Patil-Deshmukh, Executive director of PUKAR

Those who review

‘Nandita Das’ storytelling style is so unpretentious and subtle, that she could easily be underrated. Watch carefully though, and through her cinema you will see a director with a profound interest in the human condition, an acute understanding of socio-political dynamics in India, and a firm handle on her craft. Zwigato is gentle, thoughtful entertainment.’

- Anna MM Vetticad, Firstpost

‘This well-cut nugget has no room for tears in this gentle effective drama of fringe employment. Throughout the atmosphere is light and hopeful, even in the darkest moments. This film shows us the path to a bleak but hopeful future.’

- Subhash K Jha, National Herald

‘Das’ strongly political film, which she has co-written with Samir Patil, takes care not to become too miserabilist even as it doesn’t wish away the burdens of its characters. What it does is ask us to bear witness, and it does that very well’

- Shubhra Gupta, The Indian Express

Film stills

Virata Parvam


Director: Udugula Venu

Language: Telugu

Character Name: Shakuntala

Key Cast: Kundan Alexzed, Chakrapani Ananda, Banerjee

Feastivals and Awards: NA

Film Stills: 9

BTS: 11