Directed by Amit V Masurkar
CICAE Award, 2017 Berlin International Film Festival
Jury Award, 2017 Hong Kong International Film Festival
India’s Foreign Language Film submission, 2018 Academy Awards
For better or worse, Indian election law stipulates that there is a ballot box for every citizen, no matter how sparsely populated or remote their village is. Better because it represents the ideals of the “world’s largest democracy,” and gives folks like Newton Kumar, the titular elections clerk of Amit V Masurkar’s latest feature, the romantic notion of helping disenfranchised people have a political voice.
Worse because not everyone shares those ideals. In the Chhattisgarh jungle village Newton’s been assigned to, there are 76 eligible voters whom he fully intends to serve. But there are also anti-government Maoist rebels who have other ideas. And so Newton and his team of hesitant escorts and assistants venture into the depths of the jungle – and the limits of their faith in national politics.
Through charming absurdist humor, director Amit Masurkar brilliantly orchestrates this romp of opposing forces jockeying for local power on national playing rules, and in so doing, captures the lengths entities will go to keep marginalized communities from being educated on self-governance. –Eric Lallana