Newton is not just a film, it is a voice from the soul. We can call it a warm, sweet film making us aware of the need to get out from the rut and do what needs to be done.
The political satire starts with an introduction of Newton Kumar (Rajkummar Rao) who has changed his name from Nutan Kumar that shows his quest for being something different. No, he rather has a DNA of calling a spade a spade and stick to rules and regulations! Raj Kummar Rao who is a perfectionist actor is being hailed as today’s Naseeruddin Shah. He has shown stellar natural and effortless acting with nuanced performances. The way he blinks frequently, his curly hair, his orderly disciplined behaviour are all quirks that make us love the character even more.There is a scene where Newton goes for seeing a girl for an arranged marriage and gets pissed off on knowing that she is below the marriageable age. Again his parents try forcing him to accept the proposal for benefitting from dowry which he opposes vehemently. The movie clearly makes people aware that such things still exist with a comic punch.
Sanjay Mishra and Raj Kummar Rao have an interesting chemistry at the beginning where Mishra explains him that being honest is his arrogance. Of course, it is an interesting take indeed! Newton is a political satire poking fun on various issues starting from the drudgery and dull employees of Govt offices to the electoral system filled with loopholes. As we understand Newton’s character even more the movie unfolds into newer pastures. He continues with his “I-am-doing-my-duty” attitude even if his environment gets hostile. The honest Govt clerk, Newton is then sent to the naxal hit area of Chattisgarh as an electoral officer to conduct elections. The jungles have been shown in a beautiful manner with the heighted trees.
Enters his roadblocker, Pankaj Tripathi as Aatma Singh who has done complete justice to the character he has played. Every time he tries stopping Newton, he fights unflinchingly and crawls through with a way out. Still, Aatma makes fun of Newton as if all his efforts are futile. The initial scenes are slow paced with crisp editing and very good cinematography, esp of the jungle scenes.
Drishyam VFX have worked on the film’s visual effects. Drishyam COO Rajeev Kumar says, “Majorly cleanups have been done because of the crew and naxalite area and the hussles were cleaned up. There were also some inserts in the mobile and TV scenes. Some of the handheld shots have been taken remotely in the naxalite area. And for these shots, stabilisation has been done as per requirement.” There is a breathtaking scene where the tribals show their index finger marked with the voting ink which looks visually very appealing.
There are lot of meanings implied through subtle hints. The scene when Newton wears a helmet and a bullet proof jacket to conduct elections, here it seems like he is going to war. He is joined by actress Anjali Patil who plays the character of an educated tribal girl who is quite numb to the unprogressive life in the village.
While the first half shows the day to day struggles of Newton in society, the second half takes us to some bigger problems India is facing. Newton finds a truck load of problems attacking him like a bunch of arrows! Gutsy Newton fights them at every point, tries finding a way which ups the spirit of the film at every point. It did made me feel Rajkummar Rao is becoming the posterboy of a character who fihts against all odds, whether its ‘Trapped’ or ‘Shahid’.
At around the second half, there are action sequences in the jungle with some thrill and twists. Glances and expressions do the storytelling.Editing is a healthy balance between being fast and slow paced.The movie has subtle situational comedy which seems effortless with good timing and lampoons the system as well.The dialogues are very well written and hit our brains pretty well. For example, “Newton ho Newton hi raho, Einstein banne ki koshish na karo” strikes a chord.
There are some slow beautiful moments captured and all the frames of the movie are very artistic. The film does a nice balance in showing the slices of life as well as the ills we face in them.Some of the scenes are slow but we never get bored with the comic punches and the superb acting by almost all actors. It is a treat watching Raghubhir Yadav as Loknath after a long time. A lot of actors who portray the tribal villagers look like real people and add more to the honesty of the film.
Publicity gimmicks are played on the pretext of a foreign reporter visting the area which shows the hollowness of the system even more. As Anjali Patil’s character says in the film, “The hapless voters are pulled between two ends, one being the naxalite and the other being police. They want to be freed from both.” The dialogues are symbolic esp at the point where Pankaj Tripathi’s character says, ” Voting machine is like a toy where you have to select between the fruits, flowers and other symbols.” The ignorant voters don’t even know the voting process. A mockery of democracy we can say!
Talking of the action and chase sequence, there’s a part where Newton runs away with the ballot papers as a last way out after being decent enough for a long time and finally has to point a gun to conduct afree and fair elections.The movie undoubtedly throws a lot of questions in our mind about the huge amount of work that needs to be done to grease the rusting system machinery.
There is long gloom over Newton’s face in the second half, where he realises how deep is the quick sand of problems in our country where even his never dying spirit fails. But it teaches us that we need to move on and keep doing our duty. As Newton says, “ I did not do anything great, I was just doing my duty.”
I will give 4 out of 5 stars to the film. I wish I could make it 5! Newton deserves to be India’s official Oscar entry for this year. Proud moment for team ‘Newton’ ! Director Amit V Masurkar has given superb direction. It will be his second film after Sulemani Keeda which was also a comedy. The film which released on September 22, 2017 has been produced by Manish Mundra’s Drishyam Films.
To sum up, the film indeed gives us hope! And to quote from the film ‘Shawshank Redemption’, “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”