Do We Need A By-The-Book Idealist? has been edited by Suraj Zala.
We have always believed that being an ideal person is a myth. That the theory of an ideal person is just that—a theory. It’s nearly impossible to be or even to find a person who lives by their principles. Many ask that if an ideal person exists, what do they look like? How do they stand out? Do they have superpowers? I didn’t have the answers to any of these questions. However, after watching Newton, I can say that an ideal person looks just like us.
He has curly hair, a different kind of fire in his eyes, and he is just another common man. What makes him stand out of the crowd is the way he works. Newton portrays the philosophy of idealism in a very beautiful, non-preachy way.
The story of Newton is very simple and straight to the point. The name itself made me watch this movie, being a fan of world’s first socialist—as Sanjay Mishra put it in the movie. Mind you, “socialist” here is in reference to Isaac Newton, who discovered the laws of gravitation, thereby “bringing all humans to the same level”. The movie depicts the journey of the Nutan “Newton” Kumar, an example of a proper, by-the-book idealist. He’s a government clerk, sent to the inner village of Chattisgarh where 76 voters are to conduct the election duty, with 2 colleagues accompanying him. The entire story revolves around how Newton tries his best to conduct the election fairly by following the rule book and honestly performing his duties.
Director Amit Masurkar’s brilliance is reflected in the movie when he portrays two theories in form of two different individuals. One is Newton, a by-the-book idealist, and the other is Aatma Singh, who bases his approach on his experiences. What is wonderful about the movie is that it doesn’t make you pick between one of the two. It doesn’t let you think one is right and other is wrong. It makes you empathise with both Newton and Aatma Singh.
Who is Newton in this movie? He’s a man who believes that a true democracy can exist in this country. His principles and beliefs reassure you of the fact that honesty is still a virtue above anything else. He’s a man who believes that honest voting is the basic right of every citizen, and it should be exercised properly. A man who believes that any change brought in this country is not small. A man who doesn’t mind risking his life for a meagre few votes, because he thinks that each vote can make a difference and the Gondi-speaking people in the middle of nowhere have the right to vote. He believes that no part of the country can be disconnected from any communication. Every belief of Newton’s feels like a postulate of the ideal man’s philosophy.
The ideal man philosophy rejects any idea that tells a person to compromise on his work or beliefs. Newton is the perfect portrayal of this ideology with his adamant refusal to give up.
On the other side, we have military officer Aatma Singh, who makes things convenient for himself. Who believes that it is not possible to make the people learn and actually vote. He changes the rules to his own convenience. His beliefs are the opposite of Newton’s, because of what his experiences taught him. However, he is a man who stands by his beliefs admirably—something that portrays the harsh nature of society today.
Moreover, there were some similarities between the two theories just like the application of ideal situation in practical life. There was a scene where a military officer tells Newton to hold his AK-47, asking him if it is heavy. He then states, “Yeh desh ka bhar hai aur hamare kandhon pein hai.” There’s a feeling of pride in his eyes, but also a burden of duty at the same time. And when SP asks Newton how long he would wait, he says he’d stay until the voting time ends. This shows Newton’s dedication for his work, which in real life is often a rare sight.
Newton reflects the idea of the current state of the world, as well as what could change by fighting a few small battles. His principles of idealism definitely truly make Nutan Kumar a worthy of the name “Newton”, a leader of true change. A leader, convincing us that being honest is not impossible. A concept, even if known, is certainly not plausible to many until now.
The world sorely needs more Newtons, be they Isaacs or Nutans.
In the end, I would love to mention Amit Masurkar’s courage to make a movie which was near to perfect portrayal of idealism. He made it look so simple with an essence of dark comedy without being preachy about it. Rajkumar Rao’s portrayal of Newton is going to remain in my mind as the man who is an ideal. And Pankaj Tripathi for portraying the harshness of reality so convincingly.
We were always told that being idealistic is a myth. The ideal man maybe boring. However, we need one to bring change.
To watch a trailer for the movie, click here.
To read more by the author of Do We Need A By-The-Book Idealist? click here.