The name strikes you and takes you to your school days. Back to standard 6th or 7th when the name first appeared in the science books. In school, this name was a headache to some and to some, a world full of discoveries.
On September 22, director Amit V Masurkar will give a whole new definition to this name as his film Newton will hit the theatres.
Newton is his second film after Sulemani Keeda which came in late 2014. In what has been a dull year for the Hindi film industry, Newton comes with a new hope.
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Q: How did the idea to make a film on a story related to the Indian democracy and link it to the name of a scientist come to your mind?
A: I wanted to make a film and I was thinking on subjects which are close to me. I was reading about elections at that time and learned a lot about it. I was wondering if I can do something on that. Then the idea to build the story around polling booth came because a polling booth is the most basic thing that is associated with a democracy. The common man goes there and votes. This is where our voice is heard. I thought of setting up the film there for the same reason. And through that, we saw a bigger picture. That was the whole concept.
The character is named Newton because, in the trailer, you must have seen that his name is Nutan but he prefers to be called Newton. There are reasons for this which you will understand when you see the film.
Q: When we see the trailer, we see that the film is shot in the forest area. How difficult was it shoot the film in such locations?
A: We shot the film in Chhattisgarh and it was pretty difficult to shoot there. It is not a very safe area. Also, the thing about shooting in forests is that you cannot take generators and lights. It is not a regular shoot. You cannot use lights in the forest, so you have to make the best use of the day light. Accordingly, you have to plan your shoot. So, if it is a morning scene, then it has to be shot in the morning. If it is an afternoon scene, it has to be shot in afternoon. If the light changes, you have to finish the scene the next day then. So, you have to very careful while shooting in a jungle.
Also, it started raining in the forest which became a big problem. We were shooting in sync sound, so we had to be well-prepared and rehearsed. It was a little tough. We were shooting a little far away from the town so there was no network as well in our phones.
We had to be very well prepared and well planned for the whole thing.
Q: What problems or doubts were there on the security front?
A: We were shooting in an area which is seen as the Naxal affected area by the government. But we did not face any problem from anyone. Neither Naxalite bother us nor the government.
Q: How difficult is it to find a producer for a film like Newton, where the story is a little powerful and many might fear to produce it because of its subject. These films come with their own share of financial threats and insecurities for a film producer.
A: I was pretty lucky because my film Sulemani Keeda was released in December 2014 and four months later, the distributor of that film Shiladitya Bora had joined Manish Mundra as CEO of Drishyam Films. He called me and asked if I was interested in pitching the film. And I met Manish and pitched him this script and he liked it. It could have taken me a long time but I think I was lucky that I met these people.
And also, it was supposed to be a smaller release but Aanand L Rai loved the film and he said let me get in touch with Eros and let me release it in a nice way so that more people can watch it.
Q: The film got critical acclaim internationally as well including the BerlIn Film Festival. What was the response there?
A: We have screened the film in a lot of festivals by now and I have personally attended 4 of them. The response was quite positive.
Q: Tell us a bit about casting. The cast of the film is one of its kind. Rajkummar Rao, Pankaj Tripathi, Raghubir Yadav, these are great actors today. How was it like working with them?
A: It’s actually very easy to work with them. They have that discipline which is required in the shooting of a film like Newton. They give their best to every role that they do. My casting director Romil Modi also had to do a lot recce as he had to find a lot of actors because apart from the main cast, we also had to cast people in other roles. We focussed a lot on casting. Like casting for me is, after the script, it is the most important thing. It is very important to get the actors and the script right. When you get these two right, then you are kind of safe.
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Q: How long did it take you stem your roots in the film industry?
A: My struggle was a little different than others. I come from Bombay only. My struggle was to find right stories. It was more of a mental struggle, you know. To come up with a good idea. Initially, it was difficult to find work so I did a lot of television. I assisted some people. Then, with time, you get to know people and you understand how the industry works. You start making your own original ideas for making films. It took me 10 years before I made film Sulemani Keeda and two years later I made Newton.
Q: Was it always Rajkummar Rao in your mind when you were writing the film?
A: Casting Rajkummar Rao was Manish Mundra’s idea. When I was recruited, I was not sure of the budget I was making a film with. I was thinking of a very low budget but when Manish came on board and others too, that’s how it changed.
Interview By: Shubham Pandey
Cover Image Courtesy- India Independent Films