I Cast My Vote; Newton and Secret Ballot are Two Different Films
It’s best you view the two films and decide for yourself.
Disclaimers: Spoilers ahead
So what’s common between Rajkummar Rao’s Newton and Isaac Newton?
Duh! Obviously, not just the name. But both were lucky to have their names etched in history, and experience the immense joy of discovering something new. Isaac discovered gravity and team Newton has been chosen to represent India at the 90th Academy Awards (provided they make it to the nominations), to be held on 4 March 2018 all thanks to Film Federation Of India and logo ka pyaar.
But unfortunately for Newton, Murphy came along and became a party pooper – Anything that can go wrong will go wrong. That’s exactly what happened to Newton’s celebrations. Soon stories of Newton being inspired by the 2001 Iranian movie Secret Ballot started doing the rounds and Amit Masurkar’s hard-work pe paani phail gaya!
Is it? Is it not? I had enough of this over the weekend.
So, I took it upon myself to cast my ballot and to decide whether it still deserves all the votes or not.
Secret Ballot is easily available online but without the English subtitles. It took me a while to download the titles and sync it with the film and finally I did manage to watch it. There were a few seconds of lag, just as what filmmaker Jaideep Varma had warned us about in his FB post.
So guys, the much-awaited moment of truth has come *drumroll*…. My verdict is that Newton is NOT a COPY or even INSPIRED from Secret Ballot.
Phew! There I said it. Thank you God! My faith in Indian cinema is restored.
There is no denying that both the films are based on the universal idea of voting in a democratic country. But the problems faced by the two-election agents (in Iran and India) are very different.
In Secret Ballot a lady comes to a small Iranian island to collect votes for the Presidential election and is escorted by a soldier, who is stationed at a beach to guard the coastline from smugglers. The soldier finds it difficult to work with a woman let alone help her gather locals to cast their ballot.
Secret Ballot is a 1hour, 40 minute long social documentary that highlights the sad state of women in Iran (there is a scene where the election agent does not allow a 12-year-old to cast her ballot because she is underage. So the other lady responds, "She can marry at 12 but she cannot vote") and the importance of voting (through-out the film the lady explains people how to vote and why voting is important for the country and still people refuse to vote).
Newton on the other hand is 1 hour and 47 minutes of intelligent Bollywood cinema. Based in a naxal-affected area, the film offers an emotional connect at various levels (when Newton bonds with Malko and Loknath. They discuss their personal lives while they wait for the villagers to cast their vote). Even catching of the chicken plays an important role as the metaphorical representation, that emphasises the struggle of getting people to vote. And once the bechara murga is cooked into a delicious local delicacy, enjoyed by all (army officers and polling booth officers included) it reflects a piteous state – where the people of the world’s largest democracy is tricked into casting their votes just for a photo op. In fact, there is a subtle reference of bribery made by the voter when he comes to cast his ballot (kitna milega humein).
So all you cinema lovers please go watch Newton, cuz duh! it’s going for the Oscars. And watch Secret Ballot too. But please view them as two different films, to understand the nuances of filmmaking.
For me, it’s a big thumbs up to both the films.
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