Dance of democracy
Newton, starring Rajkummar Rao, is making waves at film festivals across the world
The film, Newton, has been making noise ever since it started doing the rounds of international film festivals. The much-anticipated dark-comedy, about a rookie polling booth officer on duty in the naxal-controlled state of Chhattisgarh, released on Friday. It premiered at the 67th Berlin Film Festival, where it won the International Federation of Art Cinemas (CICAE) award in the Forum segment. Later, it went on to win the Jury Prize for Best Film at the Hong Kong International Film Festival and has been screeened at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York among others.
The man behind Newton, director Amit Masurkar had already made an impact with his first film, Sulemani Keeda, an independent slacker comedy in 2014. With Newton, he tells a story that attempts to bridge the gap between being idealistic and practical. The nonconformist director says, “I was reading the Preamble and that’s when I felt that there is a huge gap between the ideals set and practised. We’ve seen many films that are political but I wanted to show something simple that was just talking about the dance of democracy from a small polling booth, in a nondescript village in a jungle.”
It wasn’t easy to find a producer for the film. But with Manish Mundra (from Drishyam Films,who has produced films such as Masaan, Umrika and Dhanak) coming on board, Newton took off on a positive note.
With a compelling script, Manish could think of only Rajkummar Rao for the titular role. “Rajkummar is very sincere and that is one of the main qualities projected in the film. The moment I wrote the character, Manish suggested Raj’s name,” says Amit.
While a lot has been already said about Rajkummar, what’s interesting to know is the story behind the title. Though it’s the name of the protagonist, Amit offers his reasoning, “First of all, it’s a very quirky title and likewise the character is very quirky. Newton has tunnel vision when it comes to doing any job and everybody around him is wondering what he is doing. This lends to the humour.”
He further adds, “The other reason we discovered during writing was that we have structured this film around Newton’s Laws. The first one-third of the film is about inertia, the next one-third is about momentum and in the end, you have an equal and opposite reaction.”
As a filmmaker who has set out to narrate the tale of the unheard, Amit says,“Telling this story is very important because it is set in a state that we have never seen in films before. Then, it is about a purist (Newton) and how difficult it is for him to survive in this day and age, and finally, this is one of the stories of the world’s largest democracy.”