Rajkummar Rao on Newton being picked as Oscar entry: I’m proud; hope it makes the cut
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Rajkummar Rao on Newton being picked as Oscar entry: I’m proud; hope it makes the cut

Bollywood actor Rajkummar Rao says that it’s a double celebration for the team of his latest release Newton — first, for the good response on its opening day; second, because it’s India’s official entry to the 90th Academy Awards.

bollywood Updated: Sep 22, 2017 20:52 IST
Shreya Mukherjee
Shreya Mukherjee
Hindustan Times
Rajkummar Rao,Newton,Oscars
Actor Rajkummar Rao is elated that his latest film, Newton, is India’s official entry to the Oscars for 2018. (Waseem Gashroo/Hindustan Times)

Actor Rajkummar Rao’s phone hasn’t stopped ringing since the news of his latest film, Newton, being chosen as India’s official entry to Oscars 2018 came out. Good wishes are pouring in from all quarters, and his family and friends are elated, shares the actor.

“I felt very happy when I got the news,” says a thrilled Rajkummar. “It’s a huge achievement for all of us. We all are hoping that it makes the cut. The film has opened today (Sept 22) and we’ve been getting a good response [from the critics and the audience]. And now this. It’s like a double celebration for us. All of us are thinking of meeting tonight and planning how to make merry celebrating the news.”

This black comedy — the film is about a government clerk conducting elections in a Naxalite-Maoist-dominated area of Chhattisgarh — by Amit Masurkar had it world premiere at the prestigious 67th Berlin International Film Festival, and its North American premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival. Newton also won the Jury Prize for Best Film at the Hong Kong International Film Festival.

The path to an Oscar for a foreign language film
  • The process to receive an Oscar nomination begins with a country putting forth one film (in this case, Newton) as its official selection.
  • The individual national entries then go through a screening process.
  • A volunteer committee of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which gives the Oscars, puts forth six films for the final shortlist.
  • The executive committee of the Academy adds three more, making it nine films in all.
  • Specially selected screening committees in Los Angeles and New York watch all nine short-listed films over one weekend to decide the final five nominees.
  • To vote on the final award, Academy members should have attended the theatrical screenings of all five nominees.

Interestingly, the makers followed a unique format to shoot Newton. They couldn’t carry external lights, as those were too heavy for the sets in the Chhattisgarh jungle, plus the generator couldn’t be used, as the sets had to be quiet. Rajkummar says, “It’s a one-day story (in the film) and we had to shoot in natural light. Say, if the scene showed the time of about 8am, then we shot at 8am. When the clock struck 9am, we began shooting the scenes where something would happen around 9am. To finish what we had started at 8am, we’d wait till 8am the next day.”

“I am very proud of Newton. It’s a wonderful film,” says Rajkummar. “I remember how much I loved the script when I read it. If I like a particular character or story, I usually say yes to the film. I love playing different and challenging characters on screen, and Newton is one such role. But I’m someone who doesn’t think so much about what will happen next. Whenever I like a character or a script, I take up the project and leave the rest to the audience.”

Newton director Amit Masurkar, with actors Rajkummar Rao and Pankaj Tripathi during the promotion of the film in Delhi. (Waseem Gashroo/Hindustan Times)

Rajkummar has been receiving accolades for his past few films such as Trapped, Bareilly Ki Barfi, and Omerta. And now with Newton, it seems the year is turning out to be really good for the actor. It goes without saying that given the success, expectation from Rajkummar has obviously gone up. So does this expectation bother him? “Not really. I don’t want to take any pressure. I just want to do my work and lead a happy simple life. I just want to be happy in the moment. That’s about it,” he adds.

With my most wonderful co actors from #Newton. Releasing on 22nd September. #RealPeople #incredibleindia

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First Published: Sep 22, 2017 18:37 IST