Drishyam Films seem to be making all the right moves. This time, they bring to us a dark comedy starring the new
NewtonA light film about a heavy subject. Masterfully done.
Drishyam Films seem to be making all the right moves. This time, they bring to us a dark comedy starring the new rockstar of the alternate film genre, Rajkummar Rao. Newton is directed by Amit V Musarkar and produced by Manish Mundra. It is based on an unlikely voting exercise in a tribal settlement in one of the most sensitive locations of India. The film has also been chosen as India’s official entry to the Oscars this year. That bit never fails to excite us. Every critic is raving about the film. Some even going as far as declaring it as the best film of 2017 (the year which still has 3 months left). So, is it worth all the hype? More importantly, is it a good option this weekend? Read on.
First, let’s meet the actors
Rajkummar Rao as the Annoyer
Pankaj Tripathi as the Annoyee
Anjali Patil as Miss Amicable
Raghubir Yadav as the comic relief
Newton is the unusual name of the unusual character that Rajkummar Rao plays in the film. Much like Newton’s laws about force and gravity, his morals are also absolute and non-malleable. Rajkummar Rao is a government official who wants to bring about change (the oldest trick in the book). Although, like other Bollywood dramas, he doesn’t have grand and unrealistic ideas about the kind of change that he will be able to bring about. Frustrated with his unrewarding clerical job, he takes a leap of faith and sets about to conduct a free and fair polling exercise in the most sensitive, most backward of Indian locales. An adivasi colony with just 76 voters, who wouldn’t be able to differentiate the concept democracy from chicken curry.
Of course, choosing a wildly original topic of subject matter is the key to a critically acclaimed film. That, alongwith stellar performances, realistic cinematography and meticulous direction is the kind of cinema that is appreciated all over the world. ‘Newton’ hits all the right notes. It is fresh, stress-free, has the ability to make you laugh without any aid of the obvious one-liners and proves it’s point well. The point which we believe (since all such films are forever open to interpretation), was that in order to make a change, we need to be as obstinate in our duties as the corruption which has seized our society.
The wonderful thing about Newton is that it doesn’t employ the usual tactics to convey it’s message. You will find yourself laughing at a simple sigh by an exasperated Pankaj Tripathi. You will relate to the blatant and unapologetic realism of the film. The issue of Naxalite infiltration is never sensationalized and soldiers are shown as humans with realistic abilities and basic needs. There is no overpowering background music to numb our skulls into submission. There are no glamorous actors with melodramatic dialogues. It’s a simple film, just like it’s protagonist. However, that does not hinder it from being brilliant.
Rajkummar Rao acts to the very best of his praise-worthy abilities. His character prides himself as being more obstinate than the Indian cow. He wants everything to be done by the book, even in a place of terrorist activity. He does not want people to interfere with his line of thought. He is a living breathing instruction manual. Through his character, the film begs the question of whether we all need to depart from the lateral thinking that Indians are famous for; in order to bring about change. In order to be revolutionary, is it necessary to be obstinate?
Pankaj Tripathi and Ragubir Yadav are absolute gems in the film. As much as we would like to gape at Rao’s acting, we cannot ignore the captivating performances that both these veterans deliver. Pankaj Tripathi actually emanates exasperation, without saying a single word. It is because of them, that the film shines, even in it’s dull moments. Anjali Tripathi too adds a necessary balance to this testosterone fest.
The real question though, is whether Newton is one of those art-films that you wouldn’t actually enjoy watching. Truth be told, it isn’t spectacular in terms of entertainment. It will never get your blood pumping, or stimulate your tear glands. Not once throughout the film will you feel any emotion other than controlled humour. It isn’t a Shawshank Redemption and it isn’t an Angry Indian Goddesses. It isn’t Bheja Fry and neither is it like Masaan. It’s simple and straightforward. It will give you a few laughs, a few dull moments and a few moments of contemplation. Overall, it isn’t a bad option this weekend. That’s about it (unless you have studied film theory and were an understudy of Satyajit Ray)
In theory, the film is spectacular. The direction is on point, the performances are beautiful and the cinematography is realistic. No jarring background sounds, no unnecessary sound tracks. An unusual story told in an unbiased manner with a curious protagonist. We hope it does win an Oscar, it certainly is worthy of the nomination. You could watch it this weekend to take a break from the usual rubbish. We give it 4/5.
You will like the film if: you enjoyed Dr. Strangelove and Peepli Live
You will dislike this film if: you go in expecting to be blown away by all the emotion
Best performance: Pankaj Tripathi