Chhattisgarh Village that Inspired ‘Newton’ Is Thirsty for Change

The ‘reel voting’ of Newton didn’t bring the expected change in the naxal-affected Kongra village of Chhattisgarh.

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2 min read

Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam


Remember the Bollywood movie ‘Newton’? Yes, the one starring Rajkummar Rao. It was India’s official nomination for Oscars. The film narrates how during an election, a mockery of election process – and Indian democracy – is being made, especially in the naxal-affected areas.

Remember the scene from the movie where Pankaj Tripathi (who plays Asst Commandant of the CRPF) explains to the villagers how to vote using an Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) and compares it to a ‘game’? The same villagers and tribals shown in the film hail from a remote village called Kongra.

Ahead of the upcoming Assembly polls in Chhattisgarh, The Quint decided to visit Kongra and check if the ‘reel voting’ is any different from how the village would be voting in real life.


‘Reel Voting’ Didn’t Bring Real Change

Kongra is a small village with a small population of 1,396 people. It was once a bastion of the Naxals and conducting an election in this area was a tough task.

The residents of the village hoped that ‘Newton’ would put their village on the map and basic development would finally reach their village.

“When people came to us during the making of Newton, we felt the condition of our village will improve. While our village got publicity in India and abroad, the conditions here have remained the same. Even the government hasn’t paid any attention.”
Rajman Netam, Actor

Kongra Lacks Basic Facilities

Kongra village has several handpumps but the water that comes out of them has high quantity of fluoride. People are forced to dig deep into the ground for water and drink the same untreated water.

“There is no clean water for us to drink. We have to travel 2 km to be able to get drinkable water. Everyone around here drinks that water. We also use that water for cooking.”
Kumari, Resident, Kongra
“People have to walk for 2 km only to get drinking water. There is a pit in the field. Rainwater that gets collected in that pit is then used by for drinking. Fluoride water comes from 6 out of the 8 hand pumps that are there in the village.”
Israr Ahmad, Actor, Newton

Newton Did Inspire People to Vote

The film ‘Newton’ was applauded and acclaimed internationally for exposing the limits of Indian democracy in remote parts of the country which are Naxal-affected. The residents of Kongra feel that working in the film brought one positive change – realising the positive implications of voting.

“We are going to make these people understand the importance of voting. We will ask people to select the candidate who will help in the progress of our village.”
Neeldhar, Actor, Newton

In the movie ‘Newton’, there is a dialogue that Rajkummar Rao’s character says:

Jab tak kuch nahi badloge na dost, kuch nahi badlega (‘If you don’t change anything, my friend, nothing will’.)

Sadly, our politicians are yet to understand this sentiment.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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