India may be the world’s largest democracy, but ‘Newton’ shows the struggles prevalent within

Published: September 27, 2017
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Through the character of Newton the director shows that even though you may be a simple clerk, but if you perform your duties with diligence and determination then you too can make a difference. PHOTO: SCREENSHOT

Recently, Bollywood has been producing movies that range from romantic flicks to action-packed extravaganzas and it has been slightly redundant. Thus, Newton comes as a breath of fresh air to Indian cinema. Directed by Amit Masurkar, this movie has been chosen as India’s official entry for the Oscars. That itself, sets up a pretty high standard.

The trailer itself is powerful enough to compel you to watch the movie.

The movie tells the tale of Newton Kumar (Rajkummar Rao), a government clerk who recently started his career. Despite his lack of experience, he is sent on a mission to conduct fair Lok Sabha elections in a Naxalite-Maoist controlled town in Chhattisgarh, India. However, the Naxal rebels stand in his way and serve as the antagonists throughout the movie.

Also starring in the movie are Pankaj Tripathi as Aatma Singh, Anjali Patil as Malko and Raghubir Yadav as Loknath.

The running theme in the movie sheds light on the importance of democracy and why a nation must stand together to fight for it. Through Newton’s character, the director illustrates how even if someone is a simple clerk, if they perform their duties with diligence, they can make a difference.

Nevertheless, the movie is not all serious. Numerous jocular moments make you question whether Newton’s loyalty to leading an honourable life is worth it.

A political satire, the movie illustrates a struggling democracy through the eyes of Newton – a man with the habit of questioning every act that is wrong. His moral boundaries are firm, making you wonder how such a man will fight when his life is threatened. The movie has its own way of revealing twists, which you definitely do not want to miss.

Newton himself is not a colourful character at all. In fact, you may be caught wondering if he is charming or charismatic. But let me tell you, he is neither! He is an ordinary person doing an extraordinary job. However, the people around him do not appreciate his thinking process and misjudge him. This is where the realities of our society peek in; when there is someone honourable that follows the rules, we tend to dismiss them because it is just so hard to believe. This film thus shakes our collective consciousness, for we have become indifferent towards dishonesty and corruption.

The first half of the movie may seem a bit slow, with the focus on Newton and his character development. The action, however, builds up later when Newton and his friends find themselves in rebel territory with a gigantic task ahead of them. Though there were a few scenes in the movie that seemed to drag on, most of it was entertaining. The scenes transitioned fluidly and the dialogue delivery remained above par, along with Rajkummar’s performance.

Where Rajkummar’s acting, mostly his non-verbal cues, are brilliant, the cinematography is equally appealing. The movie is mostly shot in the jungles of Chhattisgarh where every camera angle sends you deep into the woods, highlighting its natural beauty.

Seldom does Bollywood use dark comedy to depict current social issues and compel viewers to introspect. Newton is somewhat of an exclamation point, raising questions that have been buried deep in our consciousness.

Perhaps this movie calls for a robust change in thinking, with the idea that, starting from the far-off areas to the metropolis, everyone plays a role to ensure true democracy in a country. With enough introspection, Newton will make you see your surroundings in a different light.

A particular dialogue stirs in my mind as I write this review:

“If you change nothing, nothing will change.”

Perhaps, it is time to bring out our Newton from within.

All photos: Screenshots

muhammad.omar.iftikhar

Muhammad Omar Iftikhar

The author is a freelance writer and blogger and writes for various English dailies of Pakistan. He tweets @omariftikhar twitter.com/omariftikhar

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Gingerman78

    Democracies do not come perfectly packaged. That is naive thinking. Instead, they are highly imperfect at the start but tend to gradually self correct themselves over time. The United States has been a democracy over 200 years but women were given the right to vote less than a 100 years ago. One could say that the electoral college does not make it a true representative democracy. Nevertheless, the most important thing is that democratic ideals must be allowed to take root. The tree will then bear fruits over time.Recommend

  • Bangalorean

    Newton movie reminds me of ’80s movie titled “Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyun Ata Hai?”. i.e. “Why Albert Pinto gets angry?”.Recommend

  • maazkalim

    If you’re serious, the connection?Recommend

  • DR Changez Khan

    acknowledging problems and sending it to Oscars, awesomeRecommend

  • gp65

    It maybe true that once upon a time there was a limited repertoire in Bollywood commercial cinema. Even at that time there were many directors like Shyam Benegal, Basu Bhattacharya etc. made more serious cinema and people like Hrishikesh Mukerjee and Basu Chaterjee made light hearted movies which provided a social commentary.

    But now with the prevalence of multiplexes, there is a very wide range of stories being told. Just to take examples from the last couple of years: Toilet ek prem katha, Shubh Mangalam Savadhan, Dangal, Mary Kom, Bajirao Mastani, Tubelight, Dear Zindagi, Kapoor and sons, Badrinath ki Dulhaniya, Jolly LLB2, Udta Punjab, Pink, Rustom, Airlift are just some examples of stories that are quite different from each other and not one of them is a typical love story or angry young man taking revenge.

    In any case, it is a good thing is it not that people are allowed to talk about the problems in the country also without getting censored?Recommend