Amit Masurkar’s “Newton”, a political satire about an election in the remote jungles of India, is the country’s official entry in the best foreign film category at the Academy Awards next year.
“Newton”, which opened in cinemas on Friday, premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in February. The film was chosen unanimously on Friday by a jury appointed by the Film Federation of India, the industry body that makes the pick for the Oscars each year.
“This is the most incredible news of our lives — all our hard work and faith is finally paying off,” said “Newton” producer Manish Mundra.
In “Newton”, the eponymous protagonist faces the threat of Maoist rebels and indifferent officials as he helps conduct elections in a remote jungle in Chhattisgarh.
The makers of the critically acclaimed 109-minute film, with Rajkummar Rao and Pankaj Tripathi in the lead, hope to reverse India’s dry spell at the Oscars.
Indian films have traditionally not made the cut in the foreign film category at the Oscars, with “Lagaan” the only Indian film in recent times to make it to the Academy Award shortlist for 2001.
According to Indian media reports, “Newton” has been facing criticism for being similar to a 2001 Iranian film, “Secret Ballot”. However, the filmmaker has denied that “Newton” was plagiarised from the Iranian film.
Jaideep Varma, in a Facebook post, says, “‘Secret Ballot’ is much more minimalistic and meditative compared to ‘Newton’ and while their basic premise is similar, the rest of them go to very different places.” (Reuters)