The official entry from India to the 90th Academy Awards in 2017, Newton is the next one on my list.
This Rajkummar Rao film (yes with 2 m’s) is a very telling movie on the state of Indian Democracy. It also stars a very versatile Pankaj Tripathi and Raghubir Yadav. It has won the best film in Hindi category in the National Film Awards given by the Government of India.
Forget the awards, if you like a mix of dark comedy and politics and socio-economic conditions then Newton will appeal to you. Of course, a basic understanding of how India runs its elections helps.
With the elections happening right now in our country, this is the right moment to savour this movie.
India is the world’s largest democracy. The right to vote is guaranteed to every single adult in every part of the country. So the process of election is a massive and elaborate affair.
For executing this massive “festival” all across India so that no voter is left behind, polling stations are setup all over the country, including remote areas in the forests and mountains and deserts. In fact, there is a polling station set up in Gir forest area in Gujarat for just one voter.
The polling stations are manned by government employees of various departments. They are provided with necessary training and also with security. If the stations they are posted to are sensitive, i.e. prone to violence, then the security can include army officials too.
Newton (Rajkummar) plays an upright government official who is posted to be the polling officer in the remote Naxal-violence hit village in the middle of a forest. For the security of the polling officials, a small posse of army soldiers lead by Aathma Singh (Pankaj Tripathi) is deployed with him.
It is only when Newton reaches there, he realises that the villagers have no idea what an election is, it’s significance or anything. He is shocked to the core when Aathma Singh tells him to pack up after the lunch break because no one would come to vote. Newton and Aathma have a skrimish. Newton feels vindicated when a couple of villagers come to cast their vote.
The movie makes you think about whether the plight of remote areas have had any change for the better at all. The elected representatives care two hoots for their welfare and their vote too has no value.
Though Aathma Singh seems a little harsh and antagonistic in the beginning, you see his point of view also as he knows the futility of making the villagers understand the meaning and importance of the election process and wants to avoid unnecessary confrontation with Naxals which may lead to death or injury of his soldiers.
You also cannot fail to appreciate the gritty honesty of Newton who adheres to his duty as a polling officer ensuring that no voter is left without a vote.
India’s vibrant and living and yet sometimes ineffective democracy is showcased here in all it glory and inadequacies.
A great movie to watch and it leaves you with a lot to think about.
The A2Z challenge 2019 is going to be all the movies that have left an impact on me someway or the other. Some have made me think. Some that I like a lot, some that I really hated. But all of them have left a memory behind which makes the movie more special than the rest. They may not be all classics or iconic but they are close to my heart.
A is for Andhadhun. B is for Bazaar. C is for Conan, the Barbarian. D is for Dushman. E is for Enter the Dragon. F is for Fantastic Beasts and Where to find them.G is for Galimathu.H is for Hidden Figures. I is for Ishq.J is for Jaane bhi do yaaron.K is for Kshana Kshanam.L is for La La Land.M is for Mirch Masala.