Kapil's effortless transition from funny to serious

He is known for The Kapil Sharma Show, famous for mocking celebrities, members of its own cast and the audience.

Over the years, Kapil Sharma has become the "people's star" for delivering punch lines and jokes - sometimes mildly bawdy and obviously sexist - in rapid-fire Hindi.

But in Zwigato, a new film directed by Nandita Das, India's best-known comedian plays Manas, a gloomy food delivery rider (right).

He glides through a small city, wearing a stoic expression on his face and a cargo of food on his back. He cannot entirely make sense of the food delivery app on the phone mounted on his handlebar and its algorithms that are central to his livelihood.

It is a far cry from his loud performances in The Kapil Sharma Show and his other movies like Kis Kis Ko Pyaar Karun and Firangi.

But Kapil delivers an impeccable performance - which audiences have lauded as a beautiful and mature attempt to break out of the funnyman stereotype and grow as a performer.

Nandita seems to have played an important role in helping Kapil peel back his layers as a live performer and slip into the skin of his character as a food delivery rider.

Zwigato is one of Bollywood's first attempts to explore and depict India's developing gig economy and its underlings. It's the story of a human's struggle against an app's algorithm in a world where reviews and ratings can make or break someone's ability to bring home a decent wage.

Nandita said she picked Kapil after watching a clip of him hosting a Bollywood awards show with his usual elan. He joked about being a common man and that was when Nandita told her casting director to call him up.

She said even Kapil was taken aback and told her that he did comedy and would not be ideal for the role.

Even the producers were sceptical about the casting but Nandita was sure she wanted to cast Kapil - she would not even accept Shah Rukh Khan for the role.

This turned out to be the right decision for Nandita as Zwigato and Kapil's performance have received rave reviews.

Critics and fans are marvelling at Kapil's growth as an actor and his ability to evoke emotion with the simplest of dialogues in a touching film that also stars Shahana Goswami.

"I do comedy two hours a day on my show, but I'm not like that for 24 hours," said Kapil.

"There are several facets to my personality, which I'd like to show."

Getting into the skin of a character that had his own struggles and troubles as a delivery boy, Kapil was reminded of his own journey to fame.

"I used to work at Coca-Cola. We all do small jobs here and there when we first come to Mumbai," he said.

"The product was transported in trucks. There were no apps back then.

"But when Nandita came to me and told me what all difficulties delivery guys face, I could relate to that story a lot."

Indo-Asian News Service


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