Amit Masurkar’s smart and engaging black comedy, Newton, (official selection at the Berlin Film Festival) finds humor in the tenuous nature of democracy, a hard task on the global stage at the present. When conscientious clerk, Newton, is placed on election duty in the conflict-ridden “tribal” area of Chhattisgarh, he tries his best to conduct free and fair voting despite the apathy of security forces and the looming fear of an attack by Maoist rebels. The titular role is played with sincerity and deeply felt passion by Rajkummar Rao (Queen, Aligarh), a rising star on the indie scene in India.
The village where he must ensure that the election is carried out properly turns out to be a democratic stress-center, where he must keep devious military personnel and oddball bureaucrats in check – even as the voters remain strangely absent. Embracing a sense of chaos and absurdity, while remaining aware of the drama of reality, this film asks us to question our belief in the political process, and the power of the vote.