Oscars: India Selects 'Newton' for Foreign-Language Category

Courtesy of Drishyam Films
'Newton'

The political satire premiered at Berlin and revolves around a government clerk sent on election duty in a conflict-ridden area.

Political satire Newton has been selected as India’s entry for the 90th Academy Awards in the best foreign-language film category.

The announcement was made Friday by the Film Federation of India, which said the movie was selected out of 26 contenders.

Directed by Amit Masurkar, Newton stars Rajkumar Rao as Newton Kumar, a government clerk sent on election duty in the conflict-ridden jungles of the country’s Chhattisgarh state, reflecting the political reality of that area. The title refers to the lead character’s justification of changing his original name Nutan (which is usually a female name) to the similarly sounding Newton. The Hindi language film also stars actress Anjali Patil.

The film received its world premiere at Berlin where it won the CICAE (International Confederation of Art Cinemas) award for best film in the forum section. Newton also picked up a jury prize at the Hong Kong International Film Festival.

Following its festival run, Newton opened Friday in India and has garnered positive reviews. This is Masurkar’s second film after his debut, the 2013 slacker comedy Suleimani Keeda.

Newton is co-produced by indie banner Drishyam Films, which has backed a number of titles that have performed well on the festival circuit such as 2015’s Masaan, which won the FIPRESCI Prize in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes.

While India has bagged three Academy Award nominations in the foreign-language category over the years — starting with 1957's Mother India, followed by 1989's Salaam Bombay and 2002's Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India — the country has yet to win an Oscar.

However, Indian talents have picked up Oscars starting with the country’s first winner, Bhanu Athaiya, who won for costume design for Richard Attenborough’s 1982 epic Gandhi. The late Satyajit Ray was bestowed an honorary Oscar in 1992 and after a long spell, in 2009, composer A. R. Rahman picked up two trophies for best song and best original score for Slumdog Millionaire while Resul Pookutty won best sound mixing for the same film.

The 90th Academy Awards will be held March 4.

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