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Newton caps week in Berlin with Art Cinema award

The feature, starring Rajkummar Rao, was awarded the CICAE Art Cinema award at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival.

Sonal Pandya

Director Amit Masurkar’s second film is about a man, Newton Kumar, in the middle of election duty in the conflict-ridden state of Chhattisgarh. The film had its world premiere in the Forum section at the Berlin Film Festival last week.

Three housefull screenings later, one with a standing ovation, Newton has ended its Berlin run with the Confédération Internationale des Cinémas d’Art et d’Essai (CICAE) Art Cinema award by jury members Pedro Barbadillo, Tanja Milicic and Rainer Wothe.

Rao, who plays the title character, proudly shared the news on his Twitter page.

The black comedy, with Rao, Anjali Patil, Pankaj Tripathi and Raghubir Yadav, is set on election day when the locals in Chhattisgarh are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Government forces are forcing them to vote while the Naxalites, whose presence looms large in their daily lives, will surely kill them if they do. Rao’s Newton is optimistic that he can get the people to vote, but he has a hard road to climb to achieve that.

Masurkar’s first film was the low-budget indie, Sulemani Keeda (2014), about struggling writers in the Hindi film industry. However, for his follow-up, Masurkar chose the murky and difficult circumstances of politics and election in central India.

Newton was shot on location, in the jungles of Chhattisgarh, without artificial lights. The story takes place in one day and Masurkar hopes to have the film in theatres by mid-2017.

Interestingly, the director was inspired to write Newton after reading the Constitution of India and deciding to base his next film on democracy.

Filmmaker Amit Masurkar spoke to Meenakshi Shedde, South Asia consultant to the Berlin Film Festival and a correspondent for Cinestaan.com, before the premiere of Newton at Berlin. Watch their interaction: