Nandita Das draws people’s attention to a serious issue through Zwigato
khaskhabar.com : Saturday, March 18, 2023 5:53 PM
Mumbai It’s been 87 years since Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times was released. The film tells the story of a factory worker and his struggle to survive in the modern, industrialized world in the face of the Depression. Nothing seems to have changed, but only the means of exploitation of the workers have changed.
Filmmaker-actress Nandita Das’ new film Zwigato tells the human story of a gig worker who finds herself employed with a titanic food delivery platform. Nandita told IANS that the idea for the film came about during a discussion with her publisher friend Sameer Patil about rising unemployment and the complexity of gig work.
The filmmaker said: Then we started writing a short film about a day in the life of a delivery rider. Then Sameer (Nair), the CEO of Applause Entertainment, inspired me to expand it to a feature film. I started going deeper into it, I was attracted to the human aspects and the life of the workers.
The gig economy has been in operation since the 21st century, as various types of freelance jobs have emerged, most recently, it has gone mainstream with the advent of high-speed internet with the pandemic. Services like Zomato, Swiggy and Dunzo have not only brought relief to the people but have also strengthened India’s GDP.
Every day, countless delivery partners and cab drivers ply the streets of Indian cities to feed people or help with the delivery and transit of their goods. Be it bad weather, traffic jams, festivals, the machinery of India’s gig economy keeps on running non-stop.
Nandita said: With the rise of the gig economy, the conflict between man and machine that Chaplin depicted in ‘Modern Times’ has now shifted to one between man and algorithm. ‘Zwigato’ is a story about the continuity of life.
During the pandemic, we consumers, for our convenience, became more and more dependent on gig workers and less and less aware of their struggles. We all have ordered during covid-19 and rarely have we thanked or given them a rating.
The team invested two years in research for the film. The more the brain collects data, the better the output.
Nandita said: Before starting the film, I understood the world of incentives and algorithms as much as my protagonist did! The more I delved in, the more disturbing I found out about the gig economy. We gathered facts as well as personal stories by interviewing several riders. Their struggles, dilemmas and aspirations helped me to understand their world more closely.
Nandita and her team also spoke to former employees of food delivery companies and senior managers of analytics departments of food delivery apps.
These conversations helped us understand the changes made to the app and algorithms and the thought process behind such changes, said Nandita. While not all of this is in the film, it was important to understand how things work in the gig economy.
The farther the delivery is, the more the rider has to spend on fuel. They get petrol fee for going out of their area but not for returning, and this is not only in India but everywhere in the world.
When asked about choosing a TV superstar in the form of Kapil Sharma for such a humane story, the filmmaker said that the decision was driven by his instincts. Casting Kapil was not an act of bravery, I found him natural, uninhibited and candid. I have never seen his show, but I saw in the clips that he is perfect for my character Manas.
I went to meet him and offered the film, he immediately said yes after hearing the story. Casting is very important in a film. If the characters are believable, then only the audience can believe and relate to the characters. The biggest concern was not being able to bring out Kapil’s Punjabiness, but Kapil accepted this challenge as well and worked hard for it.
He said: I gave him all the dialogues to speak in Jharkhand accent, which Kapil finally did brilliantly after a lot of hard work. The essence of Nandita’s film is empathy and she feels it is unfortunate that empathy is not usually taught to us as children.
Nandita signed a note saying: I believe most people have a desire to empathize, and when they watch a film like ‘Zwigato’, it evokes a different feeling within them and creates a feeling of empathy for the characters. creates emotion. This has been the response that I have received to a great extent and nothing fills my heart more than knowing that the film with which I have made the intention is reaching the audience.
Zwigato has now released in theatres.(IANS)
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