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Business News/ Money / Personal Finance/  Zwigato: 5 money lessons from a slice of life film
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Zwigato: 5 money lessons from a slice of life film

Kapil Sharma and Shahana Goswami in a life affirming film about survival.

Kapil Sharma makes for an interesting and unlikely hero of this film, titled Zwigato. Interesting casting choice because everyone who watches the sketch comedy and interview with the stars show that he hosts, and unlikely because the persona that he projects in the show is radically different from the film.Premium
Kapil Sharma makes for an interesting and unlikely hero of this film, titled Zwigato. Interesting casting choice because everyone who watches the sketch comedy and interview with the stars show that he hosts, and unlikely because the persona that he projects in the show is radically different from the film.

Once in a while comes a refreshing slice of life film that leaves you with a sense of hope even though the characters in the film aren’t socially privileged or discover the proverbial silver spoon during the film.

Kapil Sharma makes for an interesting and unlikely hero of this film, titled Zwigato. Interesting casting choice because everyone who watches the sketch comedy and interview with the stars show that he hosts, and unlikely because the persona that he projects in the show is radically different from the film.

Zwigato is about a young family - father, mother, two kids and an elderly mother - making a living after the bread earner of the family loses his job. Loss of a job is a reality that many dread, and many more who live under a cloud. Imagine being a writer, dreading an eventuality where Chat GPT and other AI platforms may put you out of a job? Robotic surgery is everywhere, do surgeons dread redundancy if they do not upskill? Will a food delivery app replace dining in at restaurants?

Coping with a job loss

In all her innocence, Manas’ daughter asks him, ‘Can you not do some other work, papa?’

Manas Mahto - played rather endearingly by Kapil Sharma - used to work as a factory supervisor, tries to reassure his daughter that delivering food is a ‘punya ka kaam’ (work that brings good karma). But when he’s frustrated by his job that exhausts him, he says, ‘It was easier handling 200 men at the factory and here I am struggling to make even eight deliveries.’

After the loss of his job, he’s delivering food. His work ethic is strong, but he’s struggling to understand the app. His wife Pratima who is also pitching in seems to have an easier time with work because she does everything from being a masseuse for rich ladies to being a cleaner at a mall. No matter how loving Manas and Pratima are, the ease with which she seems to slip into her new role as someone who contributes to the household income does spark off friction between the two.

Manas is used to being the sole provider, he needs to learn to adjust to the changing role of his homemaker wife.

Gig economy workers deserve more respect

Pratima is in the lobby of a posh highrise, waiting for an elevator, when a lady with her pet pooch tells her that she cannot use the lift meant for ‘residents’ and she needs to use the ‘service’ elevator. Madam’s dog is allowed in the lift but not Pratima?

Blue collar jobs are more often than not looked down upon by people. Working at an office, slaving away at a cubicle is considered to be a better job than say a plumber or someone who can fix home appliances. Little do we realise that there is a bigger demand for a good plumber or an electrician than someone who pushes paper.

The film subtly teaches us that work ethic is important, as also is the need to put away money in case you are ‘last one in, first one out’ when companies retrench.

Promotional pushes are not one size fits all

There are oohs and aahs when a celebrity owner shows up and recommends the e-bike for all Zwigato delivery men. The flash and promise of saving on fuel and special payment schemes seem to be very attractive. Plus the workers get a chance at taking a selfie with the owner of the e-bike company!

Everybody is dazzled by the schemes, except Manas. He knows he is never going to be able to afford an EMI and that it is better for him to stick to what he is able to handle.

It’s a small but very important money lesson.You will come across many persuasive arguments about products that help you save time and money. They might even tell you that you should invest in products that will ensure a good future. Just like Manas, we should evaluate new products logically and try to understand if you are falling for the shiny new object or whether it will really be helpful for you.

The algorithm works for the bosses, not for the masses

‘I am going to make ten deliveries!’

That’s the goal Manas has on his radar. But he’s struggling with the app. What he doesn’t realise is that the app will always work for the ‘bosses that are invisible’. He makes seven deliveries rather easily. But then he doesn’t get called. Is the algorithm against him? Why won’t they let him win?

In real life the odds are usually stacked against you. Like Manas, we too struggle with four things. First, understanding the nitty gritties of the app. While Manas struggles with ratings, in our life we work for approvals: will the boss like my work, will the invoices get approved, or just like Manas, we don’t know how others seem to get the hang of it all so easily while you are struggling.

Second, Manas still believes that he will make those ten deliveries. I am not cynical, but the algorithm works only for the management, not the gig worker.

The third app lesson is that Manas needs to understand how to play the game. If the others delivery chaps are taking selfies, he too needs to swallow his pride, not call it a gimmick (which it is) and pose for pictures with the people to whom he has delivered the food.

And last but not the least, Manas needs to learn to make a better argument when some disgruntled person ruins his ‘rating’ by giving his work a bad review. His never before seen area manager (Sayani Gupta) shows up and chews him out. Manas is too much of a simpleton to stand his ground and make a case. He loses so much simply because someone hate-reviewed him. We too might lose our jobs when annual reviews come up.

There is always hope

Many years ago, Raj Kapoor sang a song in a movie, where the refrain is rather telling, ‘Jeena isi ka naam hai!’

Manas and Pratima are loving. Because of his new job, Manas doesn’t get time to sit down and watch TV with his family, but he doesn’t lose hope. His mother is unwell, his kids are embarrassed by his job, but Manas and even Pratima know that they have to do what they have to do in order to make ends meet. The last image of Manas and Pratima racing with the train should give us lots of hope. Beating the train might be impossible, but to race a train? What a rush!

 

Manisha Lakhe is a poet, film critic, traveller, founder of Caferati — an online writer’s forum, hosts Mumbai’s oldest open mic, and teaches advertising, films and communication. She can be reached on Twitter at @manishalakhe.

 

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Published: 25 Mar 2023, 09:42 AM IST
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