Panorama | Contemporary World Cinema
Fresh out of college with a Masters of physics in hand, the idealistic Newton (the excellent Rajkummar Rao) decides to act on his democratic beliefs by volunteering as a polling clerk. On Election Day, he is sent to the conflict-ridden jungle of Chhattisgarh, central India, where communist rebels have been active, to collect the votes of 74 indigenous locals. The fact that no one seems to want to cast a ballot—fear of reprisals, says the head of security—is no skin off the nose of his joke-telling superior, but it has stickler Newton in a tizzy. As evidence of the Sisyphean task at hand mounts—for one thing, the locals have no idea what any of the candidates stand for—Newton persists… Darkly comic and surprisingly tense, Amit V. Masurkar’s dramedy is a carefully drawn character study that simultaneously exposes the contradictions faced by the world’s largest democracy.
"It’s laughs, tension and the interplay between the two that give Newton its momentum… Masurkar grounds Newton’s behaviour in character, not just in ideals… building a portrait of a man rallying to retain his strict sense of self in the face of an uncertain world… The shades of grey that Newton must ultimately confront… are splashed across the screen with subtle power and simmering poignancy."—Sarah Ward, Screen
Jury Award, Hong Kong 17