The Curious Case of Nutan
Once in a while, there comes a movie which makes it impossible to sit relaxed on your comfortable seat in the multiplex. While watching Amit Masurkars’ Newton, you can’t help but feel a whirlwind of emotions. The IMDB page states its’ genres as Comedy and Drama. But the movie is far from just a comedy.
Bollywood movies are often guilty of oversimplifying complex issues in our society. But this latest flick starring Rajkumar Rao is not made to provide answers, rather it asks questions.
Newton is a story of a government clerk who’s tasked with a responsibility of handling elections in a Naxal affected area. Nutan Kumar aka Newton is man who wants to perform his duties honestly, at any cost. When we get our first glimpse of Newton, he’s shown reading the handbook for elections in his bedroom while his parents watch TV in living room. The wall perfectly divides the frame n half, acting as a symbolic divide between the world of Newton and normal people. Newton is personification of the “too honest” superior every government employee in India fears of having. Throughout the movie, it seems as if the only goal of his life is making the election happen with proper procedure, regardless of the circumstances around him.
Newton’s stubbornness gives rise to situations which seem funny on the surface, but deep down makes you sad seeing an honest man struggle in our cynical society. In a scene, he’s shown explaining the process of election to tribals whose only concern is to get maximum rate for trade of their Tendu leaves. Many such situations follow and you realize the futility of the whole election.
Newton follows his values religiously, which frustrates Aatma singh who is the head of security forces for the elections. Aatma Singh is an experienced officer, who just wants to get over with the election. He perfectly knows that this election is a farce and nothing’s going to change the conditions of 76 tribals living in the Naxal affected area.
Even though there are no clear antagonists , the fear of communist guerillas create an eerie atmosphere during the whole movie. The presence of Naxals, or the lack of it, is excellently handled. Their presence is often mentioned by the lead characters, But apart from a solitary scene, you never get a glimpse of the guerillas on screen. This works as a perfect foreshadowing element, as we discover some unexpected things later in the movie.
Newton might not be a 300 crore movie, but it certainly comes close to being the best black comedy ever made in Bollywood.