LIFF 2017 Movie Review: ‘Newton’

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Rajkummar Rao stars in ‘Newton’, a film which is the second offering from director Amit Masurkar. Produced by Manish Mundra’s Drishyam Films, ‘Newton’ has been travelling through film festivals globally and has finally arrived in the UK for the London Indian Film Festival.

‘Newton’ is the name of the protagonist, played by Rao, who has a strong belief in his duties. He is a reserve government clerk during Indian elections who is put in charge of a naxal-controlled area of Chhattisgarh. He takes his responsibility for ensuring the 76 locals who are due to turn out to cast their vote, despite being told the area is potentially unsafe. He and his team are kept safe and protected by army officers, led by Atma Singh (Pankaj Tripathi). Does Newton’s strong sense of doing things by the book result in correct casting of votes without any threat from the Maoists?

Masurkar delivers an interesting film which delves into the democracy of India in the form of a political satire. His way of presenting thoughts, which are often flawed, is truly engaging and hugely effective. It can be described as the stamp of Drishyam Films’ experimental cinema or a film that simply gives food for thought but, whatever it is, the characters are so natural and well-etched that it’s difficult not to be fully engrossed in the story as it unravels.

Led by Rao, who is one of Bollywood’s most talented actors in this generation, the performances of the ensemble cast are commendable to say the least. The best of the bunch is Tripathi who provides charm, mystery and comedy to a role which should really be taken seriously. Anjali Patil is also a gem whose performance is nothing but natural throughout. The dialogues are particularly great and the story unfolds with the feel of revolution, seemingly comparative to what Isaac Newton is most known for. The subtlety of the messages that Masurkar intertwines within the narrative are something that keep you thinking much after you’ve seen the film. The audiences empathise with the main characters even if they are from hugely differing backgrounds which could have been difficult to achieve in such a story.

‘Newton’ is an important story for Indians and gives a very insightful look into small town India for global audiences. Masurkar is early on in his director career but it seems he’s a talent to look out for. With such bold thoughts, an ease in making a film which shows off the best and worst of his characters and who places them in situations which are sometimes unfathomable, Masurkar’s ‘Newton’ should be an interesting film for the Indian critics and audiences to delve into.

‘Newton’ is a must-watch film. It might come across a little under-stated but it’s a film which has big thoughts.

BizAsiaLive.com rating: 4/5

(‘Newton’ will release in India on 18th August, backed by Aanand L Rai.)

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