Newton movie review: Exposes the farce of democracy, hits you hard

Directed By: Amit V Masurkar
Produced By: Manish Mundra
Cast: Rajkummar Rao, Pankaj Tripathi, Anjali Patil
Duration: 1 hour 46 minutes
Bollywood Bubble Rating: 4/5

I think a one-man army is always underestimated. One woman cooking for a hundred men. One old, fragile security guard protecting a house. One child planting a tree. One blind man crossing the Road on his own. It takes just one to arise, to make a change. If not for the Newtons who care for nothing but the truth, how would this messed-up world still sustain?

Rajkummar Rao’s latest outing was like living 1 hour and 46 minutes of an extremely uncomfortable truth. Or may be we are over simplifying what the film was trying to convey. After all, what would we, the privileged urban population, know of places and people, devastated from all ends?

Rajkummar, who plays the titular role, wears his name like a symbol. He is this young government officer with truckloads of values and ethics. Hence, when he is sent to a remote election booth in Chhattisgarh as a presiding officer, he almost dreams he has been trusted with retaining democracy. Not to forget, the film is set on a backdrop of a severely disturbed, naxalite-influenced geographical arena wherein the people are torn between external threats and untrue, politically fickle administration. Newton, as he explores more of a world unbelievably ransacked, is sent through shockwaves at the sight of those burnt and broken houses, devoid of smallest prosperity and happiness. Reality brings him down to the true democracy we boast of; the democracy that probably exists nowhere beyond those 24 inches of a television box. Accompanied by teammates Malko (Anjali Patil), a local tribal woman and also a teacher, and a reluctant Loknath (Raghubir Yadav), he still begins the voting process inside a half-broken, abandoned school building.

And then begins the true exposure. What was initially looking like a crisis Newton would have to bear Alone, becomes a twofold story. Since the beginning, we are introduced to Aatma Singh (Pankaj Tripathi), the assistant commander, in charge of Newton and his team’s security. A man of forty and also a man who has earlier managed elections at places like North East and Kashmir, Aatma Singh knows it all. He knows the farce that often occurs in the name of election. And he also knows, the very system that assigns him the duty to safeguard democracy, is failing him in more than one ways. Pankaj Tripathi perfectly essays a character with his own crisis who likes to keep it underneath. A man on a mission with a small weapon, Aatma Singh is constantly trying to wake Newton up to reality. It happens, but not very comfortably.

If you ask us what impacted us more than the actors, we’d say, the people. As we sat through and stared at those scattered, clueless, blank eyes wondering what a mere EVM machine could do for them, none of them looked like actors. They were far too real and far too honest to be anything less than truth, and just truth. Aren’t those the faces that often flash on our TV screens; washed with tears, slapped with tragedies? From UP, Bengal, Assam? From Kashmir, Karnataka, Uttarakhand? Failed by justice, religion, democracy? Failed by us, at large? But well, may be we are just carried away.

Rajkummar Rao looks unstoppable. He has mastered every little posture of a man in an ethical crisis. In one of the sequences, an enraged Rajkummar picks up a gun and screams at the top of his voice as he safeguards four ‘genuine’ voters. Why did I find so many of us in his wrinkles and his sweat-drops?

Anjali Patil plays a local teacher; a young, educated, tribal woman who might not buy the idea of violence caused by naxalites but relates to every bit of exploitation that has led tribals to how perturbed they are today. She is subdued, expressive and acts well. So is Raghubir Yadav.

The production was well taken care of. Since the beginning, you spot major usage of ambient sounds, instead of fabricated music. That just helps the tension build up. Mostly shot at real locations, it features decent work by Swapnil Sonawane.

‘Newton’ isn’t a pleasant watch. Neither is it relaxing on your nerves. It is just a piece of truth shoved on your face with a great dose of dark humour. Watch it for its honesty, and the fine performances.

Watch trailer: