MUMBAI — The movie starts with an idealistic youth who refuses to marry an underage girl, much to the parents’ chagrin. His name is Nutan Kumar, and since ‘Nutan’ (new) is a feminine name, he has changed it to Newton Kumar.
Newton now tries to be a watered down ‘today’ version of the idealist Satyapriya (Dharmendra’s character in the classic but flop “Satyakam”). After a brief discussion with a government officer (Sanjay Mishra), he is appointed on election duty in a remote village where elections are opposed by Maoists and Naxals.
Bravely, Newton goes there with a small team and is determined to conduct free, fair and honest elections in the deep jungles with only 76 voters. The government has assigned them a protection force from the army led by the hard-boiled and seemingly cynical Aatma Singh (Pankaj Tripathi). Also on the government team, are a local girl Malko (Anjali Patil) and the wizened poet-singer Loknath (Raghubir Yadav). Nothing really happens.
And then…Yaaawwwwwn!... at long last comes interval.
After the interval, we expect things to pick up. They don’t. There are some bursts of idealistic fervor from Newton, and an ironic visit by a foreign scribe, who is doing a story on how democratic India is, and a cop who tries to impress her with his English and general knowledge. Then there is a false Maoist attack alarm, and Newton rises to the occasion like the idealist he is. Having accomplished his work, he then parts ways with his team and Malko, who one day visits him in the office in which he is posted.
That is The End!
So, as the protagonists of the humongous entertaining, “Go Goa Gone,” said in that film, “What do we know? What have we learnt? We know nothing, we learnt ghanta (nothing at all)!!” The film neither has a hard-hitting (or even a soft-hitting!) message or lesson, nor is it, in the remotest sense, entertaining. Come on, why should a ticket-payer shell out a fortune for THIS?
For once, Eros and Aanand L. Rai (as presenter) have gone woefully wrong. The intended ‘dark’ comedy is dark, but it certainly ain’t comedy, but for perhaps spurts of a total of 15 minutes in this long narration, speaking of both visuals and one-liners! Long? Yes, at 106 minutes, it seems 2.5 hours plus! At the most, the film can be called inoffensive and trivial!
And on an equally serious note, we find it a bit far-fetched how completely uneducated and neglected Adivasis who do not understand even a word of Hindi (around Chattisgarh in Madhya Pradesh) all have voter cards that they have scrupulously preserved, even if they have remained completely cynical about whichever politician is voted in!
Pankaj Tripathi steals the show (the man is making it a norm, given the slightest substance in his character) as the army guy, whose seemingly over-casual temperament hides a rightful and conscientious leader who cares for his men and does not want their lives wastefully martyred in the struggle against Maoists. Raghubir Yadav is alright, less hammy than in most of his portrayals. Anjali Patil and Sanjay Mishra are wasted.
As for Rajkummar Rao, “Bareilly Ki Barfi” must have shown him which way true substance (alongside popularity at levels where it matters) lies, vis-à-vis pretentious tripe like “Trapped” and this film. He is completely automated here. It will be sad if Rao loses his professional bearings because of films like these. But if he does learn and understand the right lessons, maybe this discovery will be worth a Newton’s apple for him.
Rating: ** (almost)
Eros International, Colour Yellow Productions & Drishyam Films present “Newton”
‘Newton’ Film Review: Nothing Happened, then Interval Came, then Nothing Happened, and the Film Ended!
Produced by: Manish Mundra
Directed by: Amit Masurkar
Written by: Amit Masurkar & Mayank Tiwari
Music: Naren Chandavarkar & Benedict Taylor with theme song by Rachita Arora
Starring: Rajkummar Rao, Pankaj Tripathi, Anjali Patil, Raghubir Yadav, Sanjay Mishra, Mukesh Prajapati, Hardik Meriya & others