Zwigato, a 2022 film
Shahana Goswami and Kapil Sharma were cast.
Nandita Das is the director.
writers: Samir Patil and Nandita Das
Isliye majboor hai, wo majdoor hai… It's true that “wo majboor” and “wo majdoor” both exist.
Nandita Das' most recent feature film, Zwigato, follows the lives of the individuals who created the food delivery apps that have become an essential part of our lives at a time when anybody can have their daily needs met anywhere with the touch of a finger and the blink of an eye. The struggles of a certain social class—those who depend on being at our doorsteps in under 10 minutes—are the subject of this tale. It tells the tale of India's thriving gig economy and the precarious lifestyles of gig workers.
Manas Mahto, a migrant from Jharkhand who lost his job as a floor manager at a factory, signed up as a rider for a food delivery app, and his wife, played by the incredibly talented Shahana Goswami, who tries her hand at a few odd jobs to make an extra income for the house, like joining a mall as the cleaning staff, something Manas' patriarchal roots don't permit. The movie is set in Bhub
The movie begins with an odd dream scene, but aren't most dreams odd? Showing Manas on an endless train travel, until he suddenly arrives to a “Sugam” scheme's office, where a mob has gathered to grab applications for government positions, and then awakens. Manas' life is filled with ratings, punishments, and rewards as he pedals his bike across the city, striving to reach a goal of 10 deliveries. Despite having a loving family, things start to go wrong when Pratima chooses to work at the mall, dislodging Manas from the honorable role of “breadwinner.”
The gig economy first appeared at the dawn of the twenty-first century, but it only became widely accepted with the introduction of high-speed internet and the limitations imposed by the epidemic. These businesses, which include food and grocery delivery services like Zomato, Swiggy, and Dunzo, have not only improved the quality of life for the Alpha generation but also contributed to the prosperity of the nation.
In metropolitan India today, the average citizen has many options, but even five years ago, they were only available by going down to the kirana shop next door. But what about those who risk their health by pedaling their bikes through freezing winter nights or sweltering summer afternoons to deliver our meals to us hot and fresh? Can they fill their bellies three times every day? Do they feel safe in their positions? What exactly does security mean to them?
Riders nationwide have protested several times, most recently by Blinkit delivery partners, over regular salary cutbacks and a lack of social security benefits including pensions, group insurance, and provident funds. In the movie, Manas has trouble completing his deliveries on time, misses out on the Rs 15 per trip income, deals with lordly clients, and eventually quits his job after a dispute at the Zwigato headquarters.
As the movie depicts a fiction with the terrible reality of millions of gig workers interwoven into every shot, who are “partners” on paper but are treated with little respect, Das' social critique etches itself out wonderfully. Despite the nature of her profession and his disdain of it, Pratima's exhilaration in Shahan's perspective about donning her new uniform and entering the gig economy contrasts with the pessimism of Kapil Sharma's character.
The 104-minute story also explains the characteristics of the faceless organizational structure used by the gig economy, which is driven by algorithm-based data and leaves employees with little recourse for grievances. This is shown when Manas delivers 20 pizza boxes to a haughty client who then blocks Manas' user ID as a consequence of his bogus criticism.
In another scenario, Manas describes the false expectations that one realizes after entering the industry: “Gulaami to yahan bhi hai, bas maalik nahi dikhta.”
Zwigato may have some minor technical flaws, such as a shaky camera, a dry handling of the good vs. terrible storyline, and a mediocre background score, but despite these flaws, it provides important insight into what happens in the background of these quick-fix applications owing to a lack of work options. It portrays a depressing image and inspires empathy in consumers for the system's human workers, who are treated like robots and have huge emotional burdens and financial worries.