Capsule Review: Newton
In his second feature film after the lowbrow bro movie, Sulemani Keeda (2014), Amit Masurkar utilizes his actors to their full extent. The character of the Indian low-grade Election Committee (EC) member, played with absolute finesse by Rao, reeks of individuality and makes Newton a worthwhile affair. However, nothing - not even the Naxal tension - saves the film from putting on a dull attire that has the unabashed ability to make its audience restless. The story of a fierce election guy going against all odds to "do his duty" is welcome in Bollywood, but the treatment is amateurish here. There's a lot less involvement in the film per se which is ironic considering it sheds light into how the government handles/is handling the issue of Naxalism in central India - with sheer laxity. Pankaj Tripathi and Raghuvir Yadav stand out with their cheeky performances, making this worthwhile affair more bearable. The final 10 minutes look like director Masurkar wanted to make sense with whatever preceded them, and conveniently ends it with an open climax. There's a sense of sarcasm and childishness in the plot that does not fully translate, and as a result, does not contribute. Finishing watching Newton is like being asked out for a dinner date and when the date finally happens you are sharing a club sandwich. So you go home hungry and unsatisfied. TN.
(If you are asking the question that's on everybody's mind, no, I don't think Newton will make it to the final 5 at the 2018 Oscars.)
Newton review: "Clash between idealism & realism makes it an apt choice for Oscar!!!"
Diwali, the festival of lights is here & the film industry will be hoping to make hay when the sun shines with the release of big banner movies across the length & breadth of the country. Hence there werent any significant releases last weekend & the only programmes on Tv that caught my fancy was the Shanghai Masters & the Celebrity Classico. It was then that I recollected an article about a fortnight back which mentioned "Newton" as India's entry for the Oscars. Even though it's been a while since it released, I thought to write about it as I am sure many of my friends wouldn't have watched it.
Newton aka Nutan Kumar (Rajkummar Rao) is a green horned government clerk who wore his honesty as a badge of honour. He was assigned the position of presiding officer entrusted with the task of conducting elections in one of the polling station located in the jungle of Chattisgarh. As it was in the Naxal hotbed region, it was always going to be a uphill task that Newton soon realised much to his dismay. Neither did the natives had any clue about the candidates or the election procedure nor were they keen to vote as they feared backlash from the Naxalites. Even the security force led by Aatma Singh (Pankaj Tripathi) didnt seem so enthusiastic with the idea of election though he made arrangements for Newton & his team. In such adverse circumstances, was it even possible to conduct a fair & free election???
Directed by Amit Masurkar, "Newton" is a political satire that has been making headlines in the last couple of months bagging awards at Berlinale 2017 & Hong Kong International Film Festival. It is his second venture after Sulemani Keeda which by the way I havent watched. Apart from direction, he had also penned the script while Mayank Tewari had assisted him in the screenplay. It was liberally sprinkled with humour but not at the cost of trivializing or mocking the realities . The main thread is the question whether the democratic process of election that we are all proud of is actually as fair as we believe it be. It throws light on the plight on tribals & downtrodden who dont see any change in their lives irrespective of whoever comes to power as they are virtually shoved around by the Naxalites & the security forces. Kudos to Masurkar for the brilliant casting which has enhanced the overall impact.
We never associate music which such type of movies but both the tracks by Rachita Arora were soulful with the lyrics by Irshad Kamil & Varun Grover deserving praise. Even though it runs for just 106 minutes, some portions does lag quite a bit that Shweta Mathew ought to have taken care of. As far as performances are concerned, Rajkummar Rao continues to blow us away with his acting skills. Whatever might be the role, this dude just brings his A game to the table each & every time. Equally praise worthy were the performances by Pankaj Tripathi (who is on a roll this year), Anjali Patil, Raghubir Yadav & Sanjay Mishra.
Verdict: Being a low budget movie, it has already reaped profits at the box office. But it deserves to been seen by even more people as it is an eye opener to the election process in conflict regions. It might be a tad slow for quite a few especially in the latter half but you can rest assured that it is definitely worth the time spent. In short, dont miss it!!!
Newton is a satire on India’s electoral system, democracy, bureaucracy, law and order machinery etc. and it hits the bull’s eye.
Newton, a film by Amit Masurkar, has already created the news headlines by being nominated for the Oscars. Newton had its World Premier at 67th Berlin International Film Festival’s Forum Section. Newton is a satire on our country’s democracy and voting system. The manipulations are ingrained in the system. There is no space for an officer who wants to get the voting done as per the rule books. He has to bear the consequences for his honesty and sincerity. The best part of the film Newton is that its screenplay is full of humour, and to top it all, terrific actors Pankaj Tripathi, Rajkummar Rao, Raghbir Yadav, Anjali Patil and Sanjay Mishra (special appearance) are there. It is a visual treat to watch Pankaj, Rajkummar and Raghubir in the same frame on screen. The film is titled very thoughtfully, rather this is used as a metaphor. As per one of the dialogue delivered by Sanjay Mishra’s character, Newton was the one who nullified the difference between the sky and the earth. And explaining it further he conveys that be it Ambani or anyone poor also, if somebody falls from the top, they have to go down only. Newton did remind me of Peepli Live which was another beautiful satire on the irresponsible and sensitizing journalism prevalent in our country. It is challenging to maintain the humour even when the scenes revolve around one of the most serious and relevant topic of voting system. As citizens of this country, many times, we are not even aware how voting system is manipulated. Especially in a democratic country like ours, it is claimed that people elect leaders. Amit Masurkar shows us ‘what is unseen’ or ‘what goes ignored’ by us. The very procedure of voting becomes questionable. The film says that the system is in place, but the authenticity and credibility is missing. Newton explores it beautifully.
The film begins with a politician doing his election campaign, asking for votes and promising mobile phones / laptops. He is shot dead on his way back after the campaign.
Another frame, where, Newton (Rajkummar Rao) is there with parents to see a girl. He is astonished to find that the girl is a minor, and not even 10th pass. He puts his foot down and walks out of the girl’s house in spite of offered dowry. And ultimately he ends up in a confrontational mode with his father (Bachan Pachehra) over his denying to marry that girl.
Then, we get to see Sanjay Mishra training the officials who are selected for election duty. He explains the usage of voting machines. He also adds that it is important to have integrity and loyalty. He also asks the officials not to resist and give away everything to the attackers as per their demand, in case, any polling booth is attacked. Sanjay Mishra explains to the officials that re-election can be done and if even that is being hindered by people, re-re-election can be done. Newton is one amongst the officials who are attending this session.
During a casual chat with Sanjay Mishra, Newton explains that how he rechristened his name from Nutan to Newton in 10th standard by changing ‘Nu’ to ‘New’ and ‘tan’ to ‘Ton’.
When an official denies going for election duty to the forest area of Chattisgarh, which is supposedly under Naxal influence / control, Newton agrees to go there without any reluctance to gather the votes by 70 odd people as voters.
Newton and his team Loknath (Raghubir Yadav) and Shambo0 (Mukesh Prajapati) are airdropped in Dandakaranya region. Newton meets Aatma Singh (Pankaj Tripathi), an Army Officer, who has served and looked over many elections in war-torn parts of the country. Aatma tries to dissuade them from going ahead to seek voting from the voters, but Newton does not pay heed to that. Aatma was left with no option than to accompany these officers. By that time Malko (Anjali Patil), a teacher and local booth officer, also joins them.
They all reach the election venue. For Loknath, it is another polling day, so he is very casual about the whole thing. Malko, excited in the beginning, but later she gives up. Shamboo just sleeps and does not do anything unless and until asked to. What happens afterwards ? Do the voters turn out ? Are the voters able to cast votes? Does any Naxal attack happen? Do the Adivasis, who lived in those areas for centuries, understand the whole concept of voting? What do they want in return? How does the concept of democracy exercised? What happenes to the conflict between Aatma and Newton, since Aatma is keen to get out of the place with his men before darkness descends whereas Netwon is determined to ensure polling under any circumstances.
Amit Masurkar and Mayank Tewari’s screenplay is successful in keeping this dark comedy consistent in its humour. They have not tried to find answers or solutions to the problems pertinent in our country, but have realistically portrayed the situations. Without showing any violence or fights, the reality is felt through dialogues. One of the dialogue is: “We want to break free from both the government forces and the Maoists”. Another dialogue, when Malko is asked about her being a Nirashavadi (pessimistic), she responds – “I am Adivasi”. Malko’s character reiterates the hard fact that nothing changes on the ground no matter how many elections are conducted.
Newton is a satire on India’s electoral system, democracy, bureaucracy, law and order machinery etc. and it hits the bull’s eye. It raises many serious questions about the manipulations and distortions that have crept into the democratic processes in our country. The film does not really seek answers, but does make its point clear. Newton makes us experience various emotions simultaneously. Powerful Screenplay packed with Powerful Performances by Pankaj Tripathi, Rajkummar Rao, Raghubir Yadav, Anjali Patil and Sanjai Mishra makes Newton a delightful and thought-provoking watch.