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Newton: A Movie Review

Newton is a 2017 Indian Hindi-language black comedy drama film co-written and directed by Amit V. Masurkar. The film stars Rajkummar Rao in the titular role of a government servant who is sent to a politically sensitive area of central India on election duty. Pankaj Tripathi, Anjali Patil and Raghubir Yadav appeared in prominent roles. The film was produced by Manish Mundra under Drishyam Films, known for the 2015 film Masaan. The film is Amit Masurkars second feature after his debut with Sulemani Keeda in 2013.

Newton had its world premiere in the Forum section of the 67th Berlin International Film Festival. The film received universal acclaim, securing eight nominations at the 63rd Filmfare Awards, including Best Film (Critics), Best Actor (Critics) for Rao and Best Supporting Actor for Tripathi, while winning Best Film and Filmfare Award for Best Story. Rao won the Asia Pacific Screen Award for Best Actor and the writers won the award for Best Screenplay. Newton was also awarded the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi. Pankaj Tripathi won a special mention at 65th National Film Awards. The film was selected as the Indian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 90th Academy Awards.


Plot Summary

Nutan "Newton" Kumar (Rajkummar Rao), a rookie government clerk on reserve is sent on election duty to a Naxal-controlled town in the insurgency-ridden jungles of Chhattisgarh, India, when one of the main duty officers there is found to be facing heart problems. Faced with the apathy of the war-weary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) security forces, led by Assistant Commandant Aatma Singh (Pankaj Tripathi), and the looming fear of guerrilla attacks by communist insurgents, he tries his best to conduct free and fair voting despite the odds stacked against him.

He is disappointed when the voters do not turn up for the election. Later when a foreign reporter turns up at the polling station the CRPF force the villagers from the constituency to turn up to cast their votes. When one of them enters the polling booth, he becomes bewildered by the voting machine and its operation. After talking to the lot, soon Newton realizes that they have no idea what the election is about. Some thought they would earn money from this, while others asked hopelessly about getting paid sufficiently for their work. He desperately tries to educate them but to no avail. Taking the lead, a frustrated Aatma Singh pushes Newton aside and shames the villagers by telling them that these officers have risked their lives for their vote, and they should not turn them away.

Critical Reception

Newton received rave reviews from critics and audiences alike. The film was praised for its screenplay, direction, performances, humor and social commentary. The film has a rating of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 9 reviews, with an average score of 8/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Newton delivers a darkly comic satire on Indian democracy that's as smart as it is entertaining". On Metacritic, the film has a score of 81 out of 100 based on 4 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".

Rajeev Masand of CNN-News18 gave the film 4 out of 5 stars and wrote, "Newton is relevant and timely without being boring or inaccessible". He praised Rao's performance as "terrific" and Tripathi's as "outstanding". He also lauded Masurkar's direction and said that he "makes an important point about our democracy". Shubhra Gupta of The Indian Express also gave the film 4 out of 5 stars and called it "a gem". She wrote, "Newton is a rare film that bridges the gap between India and Bharat without being patronising or pedantic". She appreciated Rao's "pitch-perfect" portrayal of Newton and Tripathi's "excellent" act as Aatma Singh.

Anupama Chopra of Film Companion gave the film 3.5 out of 5 stars and said that it was "a sparkling little gem with big ideas". She praised Masurkar's "sharp and subtle" writing and direction and the performances of the cast. She wrote, "Newton is a film that will make you laugh and make you think. And thats a rare and precious combination". Raja Sen of NDTV gave the film 4 out of 5 stars and called it "a great black comedy". He wrote, "Newton is a film about the dance of democracy, and one that illustrates how farcical the system can be. It is a film that makes us laugh at ourselves, and that is the most bitter joke of all".

Where to Watch

Newton is available to watch on Prime Video included with Prime. You can also rent or buy the film on YouTube, Google Play Movies & TV, iTunes and Microsoft Store. The film has a runtime of 106 minutes and is rated Not Rated by the MPAA.

If you are looking for a smart, funny and engaging film that explores the complexities of Indian democracy, then Newton is a must-watch. It is one of the best films of 2017 and one of the finest examples of Indian cinema.

Sources: [Wikipedia], [IMDb], [Prime Video]


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