Newton(2017) Review

Rajkummar Rao stars in the critically acclaimed Newton
Director : Amit V Masurkar
Genre : Black Comedy, Satire

When Democracy Died Laughing at Its Own Joke!

There is a scene in Newton that shows some men in uniforms forcing all the residents of an area hit by insurgency, to show up at the voting ballot, that is reminiscent of a similar scene in Martin Scorsese's richly impressive period drama Gangs of New York(2002). The scene in question shows men going to various barber shops for a shave right after they've given their first vote, so that they can go out to vote for their preferred candidate a second time. Both films in their own way mock 'democracy' as a sad joke, that acts as a mere facade of decency for those (ig)noble politicians trying to attain power. Sure, we have a system in place that assures a peaceful transition of power unlike many nations that suffer the curse of dictatorship and tyranny, but how many people are actually aware of such a system in our country, and just how many people are taken advantage of by this so called 'fool-proof' system? Newton portrays this harsh truth by packaging the whole concept of democracy as one big, self-deprecating joke.

There are patriotic films that make you appreciate the cultural giant that is India. In most cases, these films are tailor-made to pull at our heartstrings and to convert us into tear-wielding machines by displaying to us a spectacle of love and sacrifice towards our motherland. And then, there are films such as Newton, that showcase all that is wrong with our country, and actually make you appreciate the miracle that is India. Being the seventh largest nation in the world, we sure have a lot of problems, and a film like Newton wants you to acknowledge those problems. Sure, our daily news channels are filled with the usual headlines of religious intolerance, riots, political killings, etc. But by and large, we are a peaceful nation, and the fact that so many religions, cultures, languages, etc. have coexisted for so many years, we have a right to call ourselves a miracle. Of course, we didn't achieve all this in a jiffy, but it's taken generations and a fair bit of compromising on our individualistic ideologies and principles to arrive at this miraculous moment. If only, honest fools like our film's protagonist Nutan Kumar(Oh sorry! He prefers to be called 'Newton') would have understood this, then they wouldn't have been such fools and would have actually been able to make a difference.
And what is the difference that Newton wants to bring, you might ask. I'd say that's the wrong question. The right question to ask is will Newton's principles and idealistic approach ever allow him to really make a difference? Or will he just be another poor soul who always wanted to make a change, but could never really do so because he was just too proud to compromise on his ideals? Or will history simply forget him, rejecting his idealistic failure as too negligible in the grander scheme of things? It's a very interesting conflict that the makers very cleverly allow the audience to ponder upon, by giving us an ending that leaves us asking so many questions.

With Newton, Rajkummar Rao gives yet another deeply personal performance, crafted in realism.

In a year packed with unimpressive performances, Rajkummar Rao has consistently proven his worth as an actor with a career best performance in Trapped, followed by the more mainstream Bareilly ki Barfi. With Newton, this National Award winning actor gives yet another deeply personal performance, crafted in realism. Joining him is his Gangs of Wasseypur(2012) & Bareilly ki Barfi co-star Pankaj Tripathi, who is excellent as the army officer in charge of providing security to Newton's team of rookie election duty clerks. Pankaj does not play your traditional antagonist, and seeing the events unfold from his perspective, it's very easy to see why he and Rajkummar's character do not see eye to eye on multiple occasions. But the real standout performance here is that of Raghubir Yadav, who adds in a subtle touch of pathos to his comic timing. Sanjay Mishra shows up in an insightful cameo, and it's wonderful to see an actor of his caliber finally doing meaningful roles(Masaan, Ankhon Dekhi).

I haven't seen director Amit Masurkar's debut directorial Sulemani Keeda(2013), but after having watched Newton, it's right at the top of my must-watch list. At no point during the film did I feel intruded by the director making a trademark, something which most young directors are guilty of, and I guess that speaks for the maturity with which Amit Masurkar has directed the film.

Over the last few years, I haven't really agreed with the selection of India's entry to the Oscars, but this time, with Newton being selected as India's entry to the prestigious Academy Awards, they have got it bang on!

I'm going with 4.5/5.



Comments

  1. Great... I need to watch this one..

    One more thing wat does
    'Jiffy' means.. lolzz

    ReplyDelete
  2. Watched the movie & agree it's a must watch film

    ReplyDelete

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