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.
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
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.