When I entered the theatre, it lifted my heart to find the hall filling up well. Good for a small budget film, I thought. May be its Oscar nomination has boosted the crowd, the cynic in me commented.
My neighbour in the theatre came late and made us all stand up. He remained seated, however, during the National Anthem. He had, perhaps, always wished to do it but never gathered the courage or got seated in the last row with minimum risk of being seen. His courage seemed a product of darkness and less visibility. His wife stood up, he didn't try to resist her from doing that.
When the movie began to roll, the man chuckled. First, unsure ones, after all the topic seemed serious to laugh out loud. His volume as well as pitch of laughter increased as the movie progressed. His shrill laughter made me uncomfortable I was amused with the narrative, but was this something to laugh out loud? Is the film pro establishment or it has its leaning towards the other side? What is the agenda of this film?
For about two hours, the director played with my well versed, end predicting mind. He made me wait for the action. After all, there are Maoists around and military forces in every frame. The government officers trying to conduct polling have to be protected. May be, the protagonist will find the Maoists human. Where are the Maoists? When is the action due? How long shall we wait? Amit Masurkar reminded me what Brecht had said, there is no Godot.
Screenplay, script, dialogues,camera and the other crafts are right in place in this film. Director exhibits singular restrain in adhering to a single narrative. Raj Kumar is maturing as an actor in every film. Anjali Patil is a revelation and her character is the soul of the movie. Veterans Raghuvir ji, Sanjay ji and Pankaj ji kept the narrative grounded in real time.
The way the film uses silence and anticipation is unique. The director has shown a lot of courage here. In fact, silence stands out to be the antagonist in the setting of the jungles. It takes time for jungles to become a jungle, a character said. Dialogues are colloquial, still memorable. I remember now quite a few of those verbatim even after a couple of hours of watching the film. The body which passed the film in the current Indian ambiance and that which selected it to represent India in the Oscars must as well be lauded. Newton is a critique on Achhe Din peddling politicians, yet delivers the strong cure wrapped in a coloured, soluble capsule. My son dislikes the contemporary melodramatic Hindi movies. When he learnt that this has been nominated for an Oscar, he nodded his head and pursed his lips in appreciation.
Well done, Team Newton, ab Einstein banke dikhao in your next venture. All cine lovers shall keep a watch on this director, screenplay writer and, of course, Anjali and Raj, wait, Raj, Anjali? Hmm
Watch this film with no expectations. With millions of viewers, you will see the place and hear its sounds through Rao. After all, how many times it so happens that a film discovers a new space and language for its audience?
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