Banners: Eros International, Drishyam Films, Colour Yellow Productions Pvt Ltd
Producer: Manish Mundra
Director: Amit V Masurkar
Cast: Rajkummar Rao, Pankaj Tripathi, Anjali Patil, Raghuvir Yadav, Mukesh Prajapati, Sanjay Mishra (s.a) Danish Hussain
Writers: Mayank Tewari, Amit V Masurkar
Music: Rachita Arora
Hindi cinema seldom experiments with dark comedy and rarely succeeds in making the audience laugh while tackling tricky issues. Amit Masurkar’s Newton is a rare exception in this challenging genre. The film is not only funny but also effectively drives home its message.
Set against the backdrop of the Maoist-controlled jungles of Chhattisgarh, the movie revolves around our hero, Nutan Kumar (Rajkummar Rao), an ordinary government clerk who, in a corrupt and bureaucratic government office, is an epitome of integrity. He follows rules to the ‘T’ and expects everyone else to do so. Interestingly, Nutan has rechristened himself ‘Newton Kumar’, “Nu ko New kar diya aur Tan ko Ton kar diya,” as he explains in a conversation with his commanding officer (Sanjay Mishra).
On voting day, when a polling officer backs out, Newton is appointed as the presiding officer and sent off to Konar, a small tribal region densely populated with Naxalites, with a vote count of 76 people. The region is so dangerous that Newton and his accompanying officers – Loknath (Raghuvir Yadav), a government servant on the brink of retirement who is a writer and is learning English through English films saved on his phone; Shambu (Mukesh Prajapati), who is only there because he wanted to experience sitting in a chopper; and Malko Netam (Anjali Patil), a local teacher who is there to help them with the election process – are given military support, a team led by Atma Singh (Pankaj Tripathi.) While Newton is determined to bring in as many voters as possible, Atma Singh and his team aren’t proving to be of any great help in trying to make the exercise a success.
The strength of Newton is clearly in its witty writing as it takes on the laidback attitude of the electoral system in tiny forgotten hamlets. The film brilliantly touches upon various issues and enlightens city dwellers of the problems faced in these areas, with a touch of humour.
Among these scenes is the one where Malko tells Newton that despite being only a few hours away from this village, they are not aware of the problems faced by the locals who have to deal with the Army as well as Naxalites. There are many fantastic scenes in the film, like the sequence where the police DIG (Danish Hussain) is visiting the polling booth with a firang reporter. It is downright hilarious while also focusing on the sorry state of affairs.
Technically, the film is sound. Cinematographer Swapnil S Sonawane brilliantly captures the rustic setting of Chhattisgarh. Kudos to director Amit V Masurkar for putting together an intelligent film, which is also high on its entertainment quotient.
Performance-wise, Rajkummar Rao yet again makes our jaw drop with his acting chops. The guy is gifted and shines in each frame. Pankaj Tripathi is always a delight to watch on screen, and it is no different in Newton. Tripathi is excellent, as usual. Anjali Patil is good in her role. Mukesh Prajapati, Raghubir Yadav and Danish Hussain add dollops of laughter with their droll performances. Sanjay Mishra despite making a camero appearance leaves a lasting impression. The rest of the cast supports well.
Verdict: Featuring witty dialogue and deft performances, Newton is an effective dark comedy that impressively tackles a serious issue in a zestful manner. A must-watch!