For the young Issac Newton, science came easy while sitting under tree, when an apple hit his head & the law of gravity came thereafter. However, in the genre of black comedy, the film Newton, starring Rajkumar Rao in the lead role, the revelation must have come a lot before. Right in the opening scene we see the novice, government clerk already eating the apple to his delight. Probably he had not much to discover as the law of gravity was in his very name! Having being appointed for an election duty in the Naxal controlled, conflict ridden jungles of Chhattisgarh, Newton was on another path of discovery altogether.
He is shown as an intimidating young man, on a quest to be the change. His infinite questions & sheer simplicity actually wins your heart right at the onset. In a special appearance, actor Sanjay Mishra highlights Newton’s character all the more, while he is conducting a briefing session with all those appointed for the election duty in Chhattisgarh. Having being repeatedly questioned on the obvious security concerns in the jungles that were smitten by the Maoists, he defames every question including that of young Newton! His negating the questions served as subtle hints of the extremely unsafe situation in the jungle, where the elections are to be conducted. This brings us to the underlying motif of the movie, which is to draw our attention to the state of affairs in the Maoists territory.
The movie slowly progresses through the thick jungles, with Newton leading the group of other appointed staff for the election duty. Humour is integral to the entire movie where nothing is hilarious but the tonality of the characters lends some space for laughter. The character of Loknath, played by Raghubir Yadav (an alumnus of National Scholl of Drama) leaves no stone unturned. He is effortlessly into his character of a mid aged, lecturer of Hindi literature. During his duty in the election, he is often seen watching English movies on his phone, from which he claims to have learnt the basics of English. His only redemption was to eat & leave the jungle as soon as possible.
Adding a twist to the plot is the role of Malko, a teacher (played by Anjali Patil), who is one of the presiding officer for these elections. What will make you raise a brow is the fact that Malko belongs to the tribe, knows their language & is also appointed for duty in the elections. An obvious reason to doubt her sense of duty prevails throughout the jungle days, until Newton gives her a heads up when she slowly reveals her true self. She serves as a mouthpiece of the rebels & also offers a new vision about the Naxal controlled jungles.
The story catches a quick pace with the arrival of a foreigner, reporting live from the jungle where the elections are being held. The cinematography of the jungle & its inhabitants is beyond words, its brutal – it’s honest, one cannot help but seep into their reality! With the quick unfolding of events the plot develops by leaps & bounds only to end on an abrupt note. Leaving the story on an open ended stage, where the viewer will have a say whether to be a Newton or the State. I feel it’s an experiment gone right, with an explicit theme about a sensitive issue, addressed in colloquial terms for you to identify the real picture. The army, the state machinery or Newton, all are subject to the call of their duty, but in all this, are we escaping the reality? Or coaxing another, to suit our needs? Well for that you have to watch the movie even before it wins the Oscar. A good watch indeed!