One of the most exciting news I have heard this week is the selection of Newton as India’s official entry for Oscars 2018 for the Best Foreign Language Film. Earlier, I was a little apprehensive that Toilet – Ek Prem Katha might get the nod, thanks to having a social message at its core. Also, the committee who selects the movies for the Oscars have a patchy record at choosing the right ones. After all, we have sent movies like Paheli, Ekalavya and Jeans to Oscars, haven’t we? But for the last couple of years, the jury have been sending some quality stuff to the Academy Awards like Court, Visaranai and now Newton. And I am glad that Newton, directed by Amit Masurkar and starring Rajkummar Rao in the lead, got the nod because it is simply one of the best movies of the year, if not the best.
Here are five reasons why the movie is an apt choice to be sent to the Oscars.
The premise of the movie is topical
Newton deals with how the process of polling and election has become somewhat of a farce in our country, touted to be the biggest democracy in the world. Narrated in a satirical context, the movie also addresses various topical issues like media circus, callousness o the administrators and the apathy towards the under-privileged set against the backdrop of Naxal terror. Not to mention the subplots that discussed underage brides and the lackadaisical attitude of the government employees. So many social topics and yet doesn’t go overboard with any of it.
Engaging narrative with none of the Bollywood trappings
Unlike a typical Bollywood, Newton doesn’t delve into acts or have a song and dance routine. The majority of the movie is set in duration of a few hours in a day, where sometimes, nothing is happening in the movie. And yet, there is plenty to say in those scenes. Despite the grimness of the subject and the setting, there is plenty of humour in the movie. Not the LOL kind, of course, but the kind of jokes that would make you smile emphatically.
The topnotch performances and well-etched characters
Everyone in the cast have given top-notch performances, be it the ever-dependable Rajkummar Rao, Anjali Patil, Sanjay Mishra and Raghubir Yadav, with Pankaj Yadav being the scene-stealer. Another highlight is the how the characterisation is done. Through the characters of the upright election officer Newton, the snarky NSG chief Singh, the adivasi girl Malko and the laidback clerk Nath, the movie presents various ideologies and outlooks, while letting us choose a side.
Backed by production houses who can help it reach the maximum jury members
Fine, you chose a movie as the official entry for your country. Everyone clapped and cheered and congratulated the team behind the movie. But this is just the start of an arduous journey, because you have to get the movie screened in front of the maximum jury members and get their nods. For that you need the clout and the finances to do so. That’s why backing of good studios are needed, even when you have good content. Since the movie is co-produced by Aanand L Rai, under his Colour Yellow productions and Drishyam Films who made the Cannes darling Masaan, they can help in getting the right kind of attention for the movie.
The international reviews help
Newton has got a lot of positive reviews during during its international festival roundup earlier this year (not counting the fantastic reviews it has garnered during its domestic release). Therefore the movie has already got a lot of buzz in the foreign circuit and this could help the jury getting familiar with what they are about to watch.
Now we have to wait and watch to see if Newton can make the final cut of five nominees a la Lagaan, Salaam Bombay and Mother India. So all the best, the Newton team and congrats again!