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Zwigato: A  Slice Of Life Drama Told Gently





Directed  by Nandita Das

Rating: ****(4 stars)

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  cry baby.

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, a 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.

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