TIFF 2022: Kapil Sharma Delivers The Goods In Nandita Das’ ZWIGATO
Nandita Das is an acclaimed actress who elevates any project that she is a part of. So when she ventures out into her third feature film directorial, of course, we should be paying attention. Premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival 2022, Das’ Zwigato is a commentary on the current economic climate of India, focusing on its gig-based employment industry. With a seemingly odd choice of leading man in Kapil Sharma, at least on paper, Das’ third film resonates and is highly effective. Without beating audiences over the head with its social commentary. Read on for this non-spoiler Zwigato movie review
Zwigato Movie Review Has No Spoilers
Zwigato is all about the story of how a recently unemployed Manas (Kapil Sharma), ends up ‘working’ for a food delivery service to make ends meet. With expenses growing and his income not matching their very modest living, Manas is struggling. His dutiful wife Pratima (Shahana Goswami) decides to take a job herself to contribute, but that hurts Manas’ ego and forces him to deal with his role as the man of the household.
Zwigato works on multiple fronts. In its quieter moments, the story sees Manas not only struggling to support his family, but also to maintain the established status quo of his household. Part due to tradition and part, possibly, his own internalized misogyny, Manas doesn’t want his wife to work. Who’s going to maintain the household in her absence, he wonders.
You can see Manas deal with the frustration of the challenges that he faces with this kind of technology-orientated gig-based economy he’s working in. While on the other hand trying to reconcile how he fits into his own household.
Sharma navigates the struggle of both so masterfully, never articulating his situation, but just living it, exasperated. While still having to maintain his composure for his family.
How The Performances Support Zwigato’s Message
While the premise of Zwigato is a look into the financial struggles of the unemployed in India, its scope is much smaller. The movie is good when it’s dealing with Manas and Pratima’s story, but Das starts to falter when there are bits of politics and other elements sprinkled in that take away from the smaller story.
While it contextualizes the economic climate of India, it doesn’t add anything to the story of this family. And the true strength of Zwigato lies with this family, and the performances of this cast.
Is Zwigato Kapil Sharma’s Best Performance So Far?
No shade to Sharma, but he’s not usually associated with nuanced dramatic performances. Or rather, he wasn’t, until now. The usually comedic Sharma delivers a career-best performance in Zwigato. Manas is charming with his family when he’s home. He’s even romantic with his wife when the mood strikes.
But short and curt when he’s frantically trying to meek out a living. He puts up with people’s nonsense for the sake of a 10 rupee increase in his earnings. And is constantly humiliated as a delivery man.
Sharma’s performance is never over the top or melodramatic. Personally, I’m very impressed with Sharma here, as his usual comic routine is not something I am often fond of. So the range that he’s exhibited in Zwigato comes as a very pleasant surprise.
Shahana Goswami Is The Heart Of This Zwigato Movie Review
On the other end of the spectrum is Shahana Goswami’s Pratima. When thinking of a story such as this, you would expect there to be tension between the married couple. But it’s never the source of the conflict in the story. While there are stressors between the two, they navigate their lives very sweetly.
Goswami is honestly the heart of the movie. She is excited to be independent and work while being aware of her husband’s struggles with this new change in their dynamic. Goswami’s moments are more nuanced, as she has to combat her own excitement with that of her financial situation. But she’s supportive and quietly rebellious and everything in between in a role that may not be the typical dutiful wife shtick, but Goswami totally makes it her own.
At its core, Zwigato is the story of these dualities. While Manas is trying to deal with his failures to provide for his family and, in his mind, be a man— Pratima is excited for a life of honest work and contributing to her family, beyond just as a wife and mother. While at the same time, both are having to temper their feelings to not make things worse for the other.
It’s heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time.
Nandita Das Impresses In This TIFF 2022 Zwigato Movie Review
Overall Zwigato is a well-told drama about a family’s financial struggle. It’s moving and compelling, while never slowing down too much to get preachy or boring. There are quiet moments of subtle comedy and sweetness that break up the more dire and frustrating parts of Manas’ daily life.
Das, who also co-wrote the script with Samir Patil, is definitely making a statement. However, the movie in no way feels like a Public Service Announcement. It directs our attention to the life of this one person, and their daily plight, without making a grand commentary on the country or its political system. Which is a refreshing change of pace.
Zwigato premiered at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival.
Were you able to see Zwigato during TIFF 2022, or are you excited to check out the film when it releases? Let me know in the comments below or reach out to mw on Twitter @theshahshahid.