Pankaj Tripathy as Atma Ram, the cynical BSF officer posted in the remote areas of Dandakaranya who wants peace by hook or crook and has his own view of how the system should behave, is the real Atma or Soul of Newton! An antithesis to the film’s protagonist Newton Kumar, he represents the harsh but real picture of administration in our country, where the circus of democracy is the biggest farce, and where life has taught him that there is only so much that one can stretch in the name of duty! Tripathy just nails down Atma Ram to perfection and just about steals the real thunder from Rajkumar Rao as the best thing about the film!
That however does not take any credit away from Rajkumar Rao either! Rao is in fine form yet again and gets his Newton Kumar to play the complete non pretentious idealistic election officer who follows everything by the rule book and how! The honesty on his face reflects in every shot, sometimes a tad too self consciously, but the principles do not wither even if that means putting your life to risk for a day’s mundane job!
Tripathy and Rao are brilliantly supported by the extremely powerful enacts by Raghubeer Yadav, Anjali Patil and Sanjay Mishra, all of whom are representative of life seen through different perspectives and experiences! The entire ensemble is such a powerhouse of talent that none of them appear playing their parts even for a moment, they just naturally feel their parts to the core and never appear boring or preachy for a second!
And that is where the brilliance of Newton lies! None of these characters are fully right or wrong, there are no pronounced antagonists or villains here; neither is there any build up to a high voltage climax, and there is no pretentious attempt to find solutions to all the pertinent questions that the film raises throughout! It just remains a terrific understated satire or mockery on our democracy, zooming into the inconsequential existence of a bunch of tribal villagers who flee for their lives when chased, and try to figure out what’s in it for them if they vote because anyway they know that nothing is going to change for them! The black humor also does not spare the yellow journalism that goes on in the name of media reporting where most of the things fed to the viewers sitting hundreds of miles away is precisely choreographed and neatly presented, and is provided solid backing by law and administration!
Kudos to director Amit Masurkar, and writer Mayank Tiwari (along with Masurkar) for having the vision to create a deeply perceptive drama and gift us one of best films of the year! Aided by some fantastic background score (there was also a tribute to Ray through the music at a point), and some of the best dialogues heard in a long time, Newton is certainly worth its Oscar nomination for a change (and I don’t care much even if it is inspired)!
Its an extremely important film relevant to our times that every responsible citizen must watch and internalize! After all, every great action certainly deserves an equally strong and solid reaction from the audience in the true Newtonian way!!