Can You Be Patient With Mr Honesty?
A stickler for rules, Newton Kumar can make things really tough for himself and the others. He’s now presiding election officer in the jungles of Bastar infested by Maoists. Under the protection of the army he hopes the reluctant voters will cast their ballot. His stubbornness and reality clash beautifully in this wonderfully written film.
When a film tackles Political themes it needs to tread gently. When the setting is Chhattisgarh, the film needs to be even more careful. Newton manages to make a political statement without annoying any side and it’s fabulous when the writer manages to walk the line without ever stepping on a land mine.
The director manages to offer us a smorgasbord of delight - fuse being blown, embroidered cushion ‘bitiya ne banaye hain’ (our daughter has made this), training of election officers, dad getting mad at Newton in the bus, Sanjay Misra (who appears briefly but happily) training the election officers, Sanjay Misra saying, ‘Don’t wear your honesty like a burden on your back’ - just to name a few shining moments.
Even when politics of elections takes over, there is oodles of humor too. The local girl Malko (Anjali Patil) shows up to a very jumpy army captain. Raghubir Yadav as Loknath and Mukesh Prajapati as Shambhu are Newton’s assistants who promptly fall asleep once the election paraphernalia is set up. How Loknath’s cynicism simply bounces off Newton. How the army unit and the election officers walk through the forest. There’s so much more, you’ll be able to piece the plot together. Not.
This movie surprises you at every point. And even though the movie is called Newton, the movie would be nothing without Aatma Singh. He is short on patience, and even less able to hide his frustration. It is hugely comical to watch Aatma Singh and Newton interact. Suddenly you realise that you want to pierce the screen and join Aatma Singh and…
Aatma Singh is played by the phenomenal Pankaj Tripathi. He is the head of the army unit, responsible for the safety and security of the election team and also responsible for getting the villagers to the election booth. From his quiet offer of lunch to a sulky Newton Kumar to the hesitation to wear sunglasses when his boss (A small sweet cameo by Danish Husain) shows up with foreign journalists, Pankaj Tripathi is simply superb.
Just because you begin to take the side of Aatma Singh, it does not mean Newton Kumar does not steal your sympathies. You must know at least one person like Newton - stubborn and honest to a fault. And he exasperates you, annoys you, makes you smile, makes you wish you could… You could… You could…
Watch the film and find out. This is perhaps the best film of the year, a film made with heart and soul.
(this review appears on nowrunning dot com)