Is Newton headed for disqualification from Oscars for alleged similarity to Iranian film?
However, the film's chances of winning an Academy Award are reportedly in jeopardy after it was accused of being very similar to Secret Ballot, Babak Payami's 2001 Iranian film.
As per a report by The Hindu, Marco Mueller, one of the producers of Secret Ballot, has ascertained that Masurkar must be a "decent filmmaker" for garnering praise from critics all over. He maintains that neither has he ever met the Indian filmmaker, nor has he gone through the transcript of the film in question. He went on to wish the makers good luck for the Oscars.
However, as per the entertainment editor of Eastern Eye newspaper, despite Mueller's statement, the film might get disqualified for the its similarity with the Iranian flick.
— Asjad Nazir (@asjadnazir) September 23, 2017
Back home, after reports of the Rajkummar Rao starrer being uncannily identical to Payami's black comedy surfaced, several filmmakers took to Twitter to support the former. Anurag Kashyap tweeted in support of Masurkar's film, hinting that the charges were baseless.
"Newton" is as much a copy of "Secret Ballot" as The Avengers is of Watan Ke Rakhwale — Anurag Kashyap (@anuragkashyap72) September 24, 2017
He even defended the film by saying that getting an award at the Berlin Film Festival would not have been possible, had the film been a copy.
Newton is an award winner from Berlin Fest and I can promise you those curators watch more films in a year than rest of us do in a lifetime.
— Anurag Kashyap (@anuragkashyap72) September 24, 2017
Journalist and film critic Khalid Mohamed decided to withdraw his four stars, making his stance on the debate clear.
SAD!!! NEWTON is too close for comfort to Iran's SECRET BALLOT.Withdraw my 4 stars revu for whatevr it was worth. — khalid mohamed (@Jhajhajha) September 23, 2017
National Award-winning filmmaker Jaideep Varma, also wrote an elaborate Facebook post, coming to Newton's rescue. Stating that the Iranian film is "much more minimalistic and meditative compared to Newton", according to him, just the premise of the two films are alike.
Although, the Oscars have unimpeachable rules which guarantee a fair selection process, it cannot be said whether Newton will come under the scanner or not.