On November 15, the Center for South Asian Studies (CSAS) will screen the second film, Zwigato, in its newly launched South Asian Film Series. 

The film, starring popular Indian comedian Kapil Sharma and directed by Nandita Das, is a social drama that focuses on the struggles of a couple in the post-Covid era. Zwigato, which is currently not available in the US, was well-received by critics and audiences. 

In her director’s notes, Nandita Das says, “The story was first written for a short film. But Sameer Nair of Applause Entertainment nudged me to expand it to a full-length feature film.

“I first thought it would be challenging to humanize the world of algorithms, ratings, and incentives without making it expositional. But as I delved deeper into it, the story became not just about the gig economy but also about the growing disparity in class, caste, religion, and gender, which has all become so normalized. All of this is subtly interwoven in the story of Manas and Pratima and the world they inhabit. I strongly began to feel that the film is timely, universal, and deserves to be told.”

A screenwriter, director, and lecturer at U-M, Veerendra Prasad, is the curator and chooses the films for the series, including Zwigato and its first film, Shoebox. 

“I think both Shoebox and Zwigato are snapshots of present-day India,” says Prasad. “Shoebox looks at development, and Zwigato looks at the gig economy. Zwigato is a film that is funny and infuriating at the same time - and it’s tragically not available to see in the US right now.” 

In October 2023, the CSAS film series launched with the award-winning film Shoebox at the State Theater. The sold-out screening, which included a Q&A with filmmakers Faraz Ali and Noopur Sinha after the movie, was a successful starting point for the series. 

"Shoebox" filmmakers Noopur Sinha and Faraz Ali speak with U-M's Veerendra Prasad.

“It means so much for us to be here,” said Sinha. “One of our dreams was to show this film at a university, and you all made that come true tonight.” 

The South Asian Film Series includes popular and art house films, old and new, and collections of video shorts shown with English subtitles. 

“I want to pick films that present a thorough picture of what is happening in India,” says Prasad. 

“With thriving industries in multiple languages, South Asia has a rich, diverse filmmaking tradition. By featuring monthly events throughout the fall and winter, this film series will introduce film lovers to this vibrant cinema by showcasing contemporary works from across South Asia and the diaspora and bringing these filmmakers to Ann Arbor to discuss their work.”

CSAS, and its partnership with the Michigan Theater, hope to reach a variety of new audiences with its film series. 

"We are really excited about this film series under the creative direction of our founding curator, Veerendra Prasad of Michigan’s Film, Television, and Media department,” says Matthew Hull, director of the Center for South Asian Studies. "Film is a wonderful way to understand the region, and our goal is for these film events to engage the entire South Asia community, including undergraduates and residents of Southeast Michigan beyond the campus.”

Zwigato will be shown at 7:30 pm at the Michigan Theater, 603 E Liberty St, in Ann Arbor. The screening is free and open to the public. To order your free tickets, please visit the Michigan Theater website, and a trailer of the film is available online.