“Newton,” a Hindi film set against the backdrop of elections in the world’s largest democracy, has been announced as India’s official entry for the ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ at the 2018 Oscars. The film’s team said that it’s an encouragement for filmmakers who are willing to take risks.
The Amit Masurkar movie, starring Rajkummar Rao, Pankaj Tripathi, Raghubir Yadav and Anjali Patil, tells the story of polling officer Newton Kumar, who is bent on conducting free and fair elections in the conflict-ridden jungles of Chhattisgarh.
“Newton” was chosen from among 26 titles from different languages by a 14-member jury appointed by the Film Federation of India (FFI). “It was a unanimous decision. Titles like ‘Dangal’ and ‘Mukti Bhavan’ were part of the list,” Supran Sen, secretary general of FFI, said.
“Newton,” released on Sept.21, revolves around a young government clerk who is sent on election duty to a Maoist-controlled town and how the ideological struggle puts him in an awkward situation. It was shot in the interiors of Chhattisgarh.
Masurkar feels honored that a story rooted in the country’s political system was chosen. So far, “Mother India,” “Salaam Bombay!” and “Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India” are the only Indian films that made it to the top five in the ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ category at the Academy Awards, but none have won the honor.
Acclaimed actor Pankaj Tripathi, who features in “Newton,” believes this choice would encourage the entire film fraternity to support good content cinema and filmmakers. “It’s something to be proud of as we have a thousand number of films coming out each year and out of that number, our film gets an entry. The entry is making us feel proud, so the win (if it happens) will have an amazing impact on the entire film fraternity,” said Tripathi. “‘Newton’ is a film which will reflect real India and it is not at all a biased project.”
“There is a feeling of unbounded happiness,” said Tripathi. “I was cooking when I got the news. We are all still absorbing the overwhelming high praise from the critics and now this. It is a victory for talent and for independent cinema.”
Sunil Lulla, managing director of Eros International Media Ltd, tweeted: “It gives us immense pleasure to announce that our film #Newton is selected as India’s official entry to Oscars 2018! We at Eros are extremely proud, Newton is totally deserving of this huge honour. We will continue to back good cinema as always”.
Director Masurkar said it was a double celebration for the team. “We are really happy. The fact that the film is releasing today doubles the happiness. We hope that people will now really head to the cinema halls to watch the film,” he told the media. The next edition of the Oscar is scheduled for March 4, 2018 in Los Angeles.