Cast: Rajkummar Rao, Pankaj Tripathi, Sanjai Mishra
Director: Amit Masurkar
Rajkummar Rao-starrer Newton competes with the other Bollywood releases Bhoomi and Haseena Parkar.
t has taken a while, but Hindi cinema in 2017 finally has its moment of pride. Amit Masurkar’s Newton, after travelling to over 40 international film festivals and winning prizes in Berlin and Hong Kong, releases in India. And it’s fully worth taking a trip to the cinemas to watch this thought-provoking and amusing little indie, which follows a day in the lives of people involved in the painstaking process of conducting elections in an dangerous area deep in the jungles of Chhattisgarh. It is one of the finest political satires we have seen in the last couple of years. It refrains from taking sides and offers a humorous take on state versus the Maoists bloody battle.
When Nutan Kumar, son of a middle class family in Chhattisgarh, decides to change his name to Newton to avoid getting laughed at, he doesn’t know where it will lead him. After a few years, when he is a government clerk and is sent to conduct a free and fair election in the Maoist-hit Dandakaranya region, he realises the significance of Newton’s discovery of the gravitational force. It’s just that, in real life, not everybody has a similar free fall the way Newton predicted.
Actually, this is a conversation between Newton Kumar (Rajkummar Rao), a first time presiding officer bubbling with enthusiasm and nearly cynical honesty, and his commanding officer played by Sanjai Mishra.
During a casual interaction, an old and wise Mishra figures out how Newton wears his integrity as the badge of honour and is ready to fight till the end to protect it. He advises Newton to do his duty without thinking he is doing any favour to his fellow beings as this is what he is supposed to do. Later, in the interiors of the jungles in Bastar, Newton seems determined to treat everyone equal in front of the electronic voting machine.
Though Newton is aware of the high disappointment and illiteracy rate among the locals yet he is hopeful about the role of a fair election and how it can bring a potential change in their lives. He appears like a nice guy whose apolitical views are more political than most of us. He won’t take names of the politicians or the parties, but wants the adivasis to cast their votes at any cost. He wants the voters to make an informed decision but won’t pressurise them. His faith in the proper functioning of the system is unshakeable.
Newton makes you want to be a more diligent Indian. It’s a film that tells you that cynicism won’t take us anywhere. It’s a film that makes you want to not give up on incredible India. And it brings all these feelings by keeping you invested in the outcome of the election.