Newton is India’s official entry for the Oscars

Mumbai: The timing of the announcement that Amit V Masurkar-directed Newton is India’s official entry in the Foreign Language Film category at the 2018 Oscars couldn’t have been better for the filmmakers. On Friday, the day the movie released in theatres across India, actor Rajkummar Rao who plays the titular character of Newton, tweeted about its selection. “Very happy to share this news that #NEWTON is India’s official entry to the #OSCARS this year. Congratulations team.”
The movie, which also features actor Pankaj Tripathi, Raghubir Yadav and Anjali Patil in key roles, has been garnering positive reviews ever since its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival in February. Elated over the movie’s selection, Masurkar says: “It’s a great honour for us to represent India at the Oscars. We hope this film will bring attention to the need to strengthen democracy in our country.”
The film, a satire and dark comedy, showcases the travails of Newton, an honest government clerk who struggles to conduct a free-and-fair election at a polling booth in the heart of Chhattisgarh. The previous Lok Sabha elections in this forest area, affected by the Maoist movement, had witnessed 19 deaths. This time, there are 76 voters registered under the booth.
It takes more than idealistic Newton’s dedication to fight the deep-rooted cynicism among the CRPF officers posted there, the lackadaisical attitude of his fellow polling officials and the ignorance of the local residents to ensure that the electronic voting machine is put to proper use. Manish Mundra, founder of Drishyam Films and producer of Newton, says: “This is the most incredible news of our lives — all of our hard work and faith is finally paying off. Newton is a very important film and we cannot thank the Film Federation of India (FFI) jury enough for recognising and appreciating our efforts. There is truly no greater honour than representing our country on the global stage.”
In an interview to The Indian Express earlier, Masurkar, 35, had mentioned that the idea for Newton takes root in the word “democracy”, which popped up while he was randomly searching “constitution” on the internet. “Today, when the core concept of ‘democracy’ is getting diluted across the world, it is an interesting subject to explore. Chhattisgarh makes for an apt backdrop — where democracy exists in theory but not in practice,” he stated. He brought on board former journalist and actor Mayank Tewari as the co-writer for Newton, apart from consulting Mangal Kunjam, a local stringer. The film was shot in Chhattisgarh’s mining town of Dalli Rajhara in 37 days.
The FFI has, in the past, faced criticism over the selection of India’s Oscar entry. This time, however, several prominent personalities from the film industry lauded the choice. Actor Ayushmann Khurrana called it “very deserving” and filmmaker Hansal Mehta tweeted: “#Newton is India’s entry to the Oscars. The best choice in years by the federation.” Actor Akshay Kumar’s congratulatory tweet read: “#Newton as India’s official entry to the Oscars!Congratulations @aanandlrai @RajkummarRao & team, can imagine the joy you’ll must be feeling.”

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