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Newton Movie Review: An Unostentatious But Vital Exposition On Idealism!

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Starring: Rajkummar Rao, Anjali Patil, Pankaj Tripathi

Directed by Amit R Masurkar

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Rating: ****(4 stars)

In Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Satyakam, a film that echoes in unexpected ways in the new Rajkummar Rao experience, when Dharmendra the obstinate idealist, is asked why he stood first class second in his exams he replies, “Because the student who stood first was better than me.”

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Newton Kumar exactly that idealist from Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s film grappling with the political irony of a country where a majority is too poor and illiterate to vote.Rajkummar’s Newton is the guy who will shine if not outshine the competition by the strength of his convictions.

This is one more triumphant performance for Rao who has made a habit of conferring a brilliant narrative to every character he plays. Really, it’s become a force of habit for this actor.

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On the surface not much seems to happen in Newton. Writer-director Amit Masurkar is not sold on creating drama out of his plot’s melting pot. He instead lets the characters walk that talk which exposes corruption with resorting to propagandist prattle. Newton doesn’t fall into the trap of making its idealistic hero so above the democratic system to appear a messiah in the making.

On the contrary our diminutive hero often seems ridiculous in his stubborn adherence to guidelines and rules. There is a sequence at the very end where Newton’s friend a level-headed quietly intlligent Adivasi girl (Anjali Patil) drops in at his office and suggests they go out for tea. But Newton won’t leave for another 5 minutes until his official lunch break starts.As time ticks by we see the couple waiting, while we, sadly, must bid them adieu.

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This is the kind of cinema where the characters must never entertain us by acting larger-than-life. The setting is a Lok Sabha election constituency in the heartland of Chattisgarh where Maoist violence has rendered the electorate redundant.Who was to know that a spirited idealistic election clerk would suddenly break through the inertia of non-performance in the jungles of Chattigarh.

Rajkummar Rao excels as the punctilious electoral babu trying so hard to do the right thing he finally ends up on the wrong end of the firing line. From that nervous blinking of the eye that Rao has assumed for his character to his simmering righteous indignation expressed in welters of idealism, the actor excels in a role so devoid of high points it feels like life.

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Pankaj Tripathy as the local government official impatient to get the election over it and Anjali Patil as a local girl who accompanies Newton(so named by self because he didn’t like his original name Nutan) to the interiors of the inaccessible jungles for a day in the electoral battle, imbue their habitual brilliance to the plot.

The narrative is in no hurry to draw up a convincing case for Newton’s rigid idealism. He is what he is, and we accept his idiosyncrasies in the hope that he will eventually surprise us.And he does.

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Adding to the flavour of unflinching realism is the authentic locations. The jungles virtually speak to us in every frame. Swapnil Sonawane’s cinematography denudes the magnificence of the location to focus on the drama of the mundane.

As Newton and his bored colleagues proceed into places where voting is unthinkable, we are given a sense of the democratic process having to a go long way before the Newton Kumars at the bottom of the bureaucratic ladder can see the dawn of a new era.But then if we want to make a difference we can’t remain indifferent.

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Newton shakes us up in ways that are not visible to the naked eye.

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Pink Director’s Next  Featuring Yami As A Crime Reporter To Stream From February 16

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Yami

Anniruddha Roy  Chowdhury whose  Pink  featuring Amitabh Bachchan and Taapsee Pannu was one of  the  most important  films of  2016, is all set to  release his  next  Hindi film.

Entitled LostAnniruddha’s film , based on true  events, will see Yami Gautam Dhar(that’s  what the actress calls herself after her marriage)  as a crime journalist. LOST is an emotional social thriller that represents a higher quest, a search for lost values of empathy and integrity.

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Inspired by true events, Lost is a story of a bright young woman crime reporter in her relentless search for the truth behind the sudden disappearance of a young theatre activist.

Lost

Lost

Says Aniruddha  “The shoot of LOST has been an incredible journey. I have been eager for the release of our hard-worked venture. The film is a realistic highlight of media in a social context and I am sure that it will give the audience a compelling watch. I am curious about its release and see the responses it shall get. I hope they will welcome it with open hearts.”

Yami Gautam Dhar  who plays  the lead  of  the  crime reporter  says,   “I can’t be happier and more proud of the film’s selection for the opening night at CSAFF. I feel like its one that the people will connect to and will be the one that you cannot miss, especially in the current age and time. I have loved playing this role because it was such a special experience, it allowed me to explore so many layers of emotions as an actor and the entire team has worked really hard on it. I genuinely cannot wait for the film’s release, especially to see the reactions of the audience to it.”

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The crime investigation  drama boasts a stellar cast. Along with Yami, the film will feature Pankaj Kapur, Rahul Khanna, and an ensemble of younger talent, including Neil Bhoopalam, Pia Bajpai, and Tushar Pandey, in pivotal roles.

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Jamuna Had A Love-Hate Relationship With  Bollywood

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Jamuna

Veteran  Telugu  actress  Jamuna who passed away on Friday, shared an uneasy relationship with  the Hindi film industry.She did eleven Hindi films including the iconic Milan in  1967 where Jamuna  agreed to play the  second lead, or the  supporting role if you will, to Nutan.

 Jamuna as Gauri was the Other Woman who craved for the hero Sunil Dutt’s attention whereas  he had  eyes and devotion  only for Nutan. In later  years  Aruna Irani played a similar  role in  Caravan.

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 In Milan Jamuna  was not keen to  do a supporting role. Producer L V Prasad tempted her with three chartbusting songs. Besides, Jamuna had played the same role in Mooga Manasulu, the  Telugu original  of  Milan. But it  was the songs composed by Laxmikant-Pyarelal  which convinced  Jamuna to  take up the second lead in Milan.

 While  Nutan had no solo songs  in Milan, she did have the chartbuster duet  Sawan  ka mahina . Jamuna on the  other hand,  had two  splendid Lata Mangeshkar solos: Tohey saawariya naahin khabariya  and   the magnificent Ghazal Aaj dil pe koi  zor chalta nahin.Not only  these, Jamuna  also had a  hit duet  with Mukesh  based on her character  Gauri:  Bol Gauri  bol tera kaun piya.

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But  then, fate  intervened. After the film released  one of Jamuna’s solos, the poignant and memorable  Aaj dil pe koi zor chalta nahin was  snipped  out of the film.

Here is what  happened:  the  Ghazal , one of Lataji’s all-time greats, was very much a part of Milan when  it released on 17 March 1967. But then  it was seen to hamper the  flow of the  film and  edited  out. The  beautiful song occurred right after intermission. Producer  Prasad, a shrewd  filmmaker, got to know that audiences prolonged their  loo breaks as there was  a song after the break. Hence the sacrifice  of  a seriously  sonorous melody.

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Jamuna hardly did  Hindi films after Milan. Her last  Bollywood appearance  was in  Raj Kumar  Kohli’s Raj Tilak  where she  was lost in a multistarrer as  the royal  queen.

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Karan Johar Moves Alia Song From Switzerland To Kashmir

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Rocky Aur Rani  Ki Prem Kahaani

The  romantic duet in  Karan Johar’s Rocky Aur Rani  Ki Prem Kahaani  which was to be  shot in Switzerland and which was  delayed  due to the film’s leading lady Alia Bhatt’s motherhood, is now being relocated to  Kashmir.

Purely out of  the  love for  new mom Alia.

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Says a source in the know, “Karan loves Alia  like his own daughter. He would do anything for her. He postponed  the  release of Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani as the love duet could not be shot before Alia’s maternity leave. Karan had decided to shoot the song in Switzerland  after Alia’s maternity love. But now he has relocated the song to Kashmir  as Alia doesn’t want to leave her  baby girl behind for  long stretches.”

And as Karan Johar argued, snow is  snow. How does it matter whether it is  Switzerland or Kashmir?

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This  song would be Karan Johar’s tribute to  his  idol Yash Chopra. Alia would be dressed in chiffon sarees while  Ranveer, for  a change, would be seen in  formals.

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Bobby Deol’s Switchover To Villainous Roles

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Bobby Deol

After  Prakash Jha’s webseries Ashram where Bobby  played a sleazy  godman, and Love Hostel  where  he was a ruthless assassin,   he is playing the villain to Ranbir Kapoor in  Sandeep Vanga’s  Animal.

Bobby says it is not conscious career decision to play negative characters  but a conscious  decision to play interesting characters. “ I don’t look at  characters as positive or negative.When I watch  films there is always  one character  that stays  with you. I want to play that  character.”

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Prakash Jha’s Ashram proved a gamechanger for Bobby.  He admits finding  challenging roles is tough.  “I am trying. I  am doing Sandeep Vanga’s Animal with Ranbir  Kapoor , Parineeti Chopra. Then I am doing the family film Apne  2 which I am  very excited  about.”

 In an  earlier  interview with  this writer Bobby spoke  about his   long absence  from screen  before Prakash Jha’s Ashram.  “My fans   would ask why I wasn’t being seen on the screen.And I couldn’t tell them it was  because  I wasn’t getting good roles. But my fans  stood by me. They gave me  the strength  to  keep looking for the right roles. Thankfully I found the roles I liked. My new  films have given  me  some new fans. I am  thankful  I am still here. Yeah , I am in a good space right now.”

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