Jungle-set political satire from Amit V. Masurkar picks on the Indian electoral process as the butt of its 104-minute-long joke. Much like politics, Newton is a comedy in which two ridiculous male egos make fools of one another. Descending into some fairly enjoyable farce, this is an entertaining watch but one which doesn’t leave much of a long-lasting impression.
The self-righteous government clerk action hero, played very earnestly by Rajkummar Rao, takes on self-important military escort Atma Singh (Pankaj Tripathi), supposedly protecting him from dangers unseen, but inevitably becoming his antagonist. Both consider the other a fraud: Newton’s strict obedience to the rules of the electoral system – indeed, his devotion to an inherently Western idea of political democracy – is mocked by Atma Singh’s unhelpful political apathy, while Singh’s brutish, inflated military persona offers plenty of opportunities for some great physical theatre (again: as politics sometimes also does).
There are groan-inducing moments, such as when the namesake of our titular character is referred to when an injury is described as “a reaction to my action”. There is one especially nauseating montage that casts a doe-eyed glance at villagers voting for the first time – Newton can be so insistent on the beauty of democracy that it is almost off-putting.
With slightly better direction, eyes might have been saved from rolling into the backs of heads. There are, thankfully, plenty of visual treats served up by the forest setting, but little hope in it reaching out to the disenfranchised UK electorate.
Masurkar not only treats his audience to a spectacle for the eyes, but serves up jokes for the belly. He could do more to leave an impression: most of the film is entertaining enough, but it is a shame that some of it is sacrificed for some boring sentimental bits.
CAST: Rajkummar Rao, Pankaj Tripathy, Anjali Pati
DIRECTORS: Amit V. Masurkar
WRITERS: Amit V. Masurkar, Mayank Tewari
SYNOPSIS: Learning of the trouble Maoist guerrillas have wrecked in the Chhattisgarh jungles, Newton – the presiding officer of a general election – goes off-grid to uphold social justice in order to let the people perform their civic responsibilities.[TRAILER FORTHCOMING]