Amit Masurkar's Newton didn't get selected for Academy Awards, but it still won the people's hearts. For me, his latest one ranks right up there with Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, except for the fact that the former was not a rigid political comment. Newton Kumar (played by Rajkummar Rao) and Pankaj Tripathi's character venture into the jungles of Chhattisgarh to conduct elections, the areas which are Naxal affected massively. Also starring Anjali Patil and Raghubir Yadav, the film is a comedy but it moves you. Hardly came any movie in... ten to twelve years to do this. Its 4 stars for Newton. Make sure you go and see.
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.)
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!!!