Newton ( the film nominated for 2018 Oscars ) and the Elphinstone Road station tragedy

In case you have not seen the movie Newton, please do so. In any case, you can read a great review here to know about the movie

http://www.hindustantimes.com/movie-reviews/newton-movie-review-a-charming-satire-on-the-dance-of-democracy/story-51KAdBEEbNmGFmdWzPjkzI.html

I happened to see this movie the same day the Elphinstone Road Station tragedy happened. I was in no mood to watch the movie and instead wanted to watch the TV debates on the tragedy but went to see as tickets were already booked. My mind kept shuffling between the movie and the day’s morning incident as I used to take exactly the same F.O.B.( foot over bridge ) 25 years ago when as a lesser mortal I travelled by train and visited some clients in industrial estates near that station in the then lower-middle-class area.

As the intelligent movie directed by Amit Masurkar progressed​, I actually started seeing the real story that is​ there ​ even in a metropolis like Mumbai, and not just in the ​N​axal​ite​ area of Dandakarnya. The movie, as I interpret, is not just the reality ​of​ the Maoist infested region​ ​( of which many of our high profile​,​ educated and sophisticated urban elite is not even aware)- but a stark reality in a different way of the overall conditions of India.

If we study carefully, aren’t we the ordinary train travelling( and even otherwise) Mumbaikars and other citizens in other cities, in many ways the same as the tribals in the Dandakaranya region? Does anyone care about us and also that we are capable of changing our life situation- be it our economy, our job profiles, our bosses on one side​, the government departments and all our life​ in general​?. Especially consider what is happening around you and the country, as an effect of the political systems and the politicians, and more specifically with the government,the MCGM, the Railways and all its senior officials who have great salary and perks and do not wish to deliver in th​e first place . If anyone who wished to deliver, he is like Newton, – who just can’t deliver anything to the troub​l​ed and harassed ​ tribals​.

Watching the movie​ Newton​ made me feel, that it was replicating the story line of the Elphinstone Road FOB disaster. ​To draw a parallel, the tribals of the Maoist region are like the average people of Mumbai who are exploited to the core, the Maoists are like the high positioned government officers like the IAS / IES / Railways officers heading various departments in Mumbai- like MCGM, MMRDA and the Railways specifically in this case who will never lose their jobs for not doing anything and for any major lethargy in their work and who could be highly corrupt and inefficient and waiting for their retirement, and Newton Kumar (​ played by ​Rajkummar Rao) is like any average clerk ( in all of us ) ​who wants to do something but just cannot- as he is ignorant of the reality and how the system works. The para military Commando Atma Singh (​ played by ​Pankaj Tripathi)( who is supposed to maintain the law and order at the polling booth, is the like the railway police, who actually are playing their own game, more interested in protecting their own lives like the Commando and his team. The two clerks who assist Newton in his role as the Presiding officer for the election booth are the guys like ​your ​co- passengers in the train who are least interested in changing anything in the system and who are just waiting for their station to arrive and disembark ​the​ crowded train.​ The “local” girl Malko Netam played by Anjali Patil, is like any local political party which knows exactly what is happening around them as they have grown up in the region​ and are part of the “developmental” process​. They also know that it takes time for anything to change and possibly it is impossible to change, so why take that effort​ in the first place​ is what they believe in,

​Like nothing is going to change in their area is what the tribals are well aware, Mumbaikars also know the same about their city- despite any number of tragedies like this disaster or the flooding that happened on multiple occasions.​ IAS officers will come and go, do nothing about anything and be part of the corrupt and inefficient system, Railway top bosses will occupy their chairs doing nothing but taking salaries till retirement, Municipal bodies will work the same way as their jobs too are very secure, and the corporate elite living in their own world, will scout Naukri.com for fatter packages. On one side we will claim we produced IITs and IIMs and IAS etc, but in reality all the graduates from these institutions all are clerks like Newton, not able to do anything , and like the other characters in the movie, not wanting to do anything ! And yes, the tribals of Mumbai will take Monday’s 8:27 local train after the Dassehera weekend is over, just like the tribals of Dandakaranya will go next day for picking up Tendu leaves.

Written by Dinesh Bandiwadekar

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