Manish Mundra, Rajkummar Rao, Anjali Patil and Pankaj Tripathi at the red carpet premiere of Newton
Two Indian films bagged top honours at the annual Berlin International Film Festival, which concluded up yesterday.
Rajkummar Rao-starrer Newton, directed by Amit V Masurkar, won the CICAE Art Cinema Award presented by the independent jury of the International Confederation of Art House Cinemas. Amar Kaushik's short film, Aaba, won the Special Prize of Generation KPlus International Jury for Best Short Film. Aaba was produced by No One Killed Jessica (2011) director Rajkumar Gupta.
Rajkummar in a still from the film
Newton, co-written by Mayank Tiwari, was selected in the international forum of new cinema and had its premiere on February 10. It was attended by Rajkummar with co-stars Anjali Patil and Pankaj Tripathi, director Masurkar and producer Manish Mundra. Not expecting to be feted, the film's team left Berlin before the awards night.
Masurkar, who earlier directed Sulemani Keeda (2013), says, "Newton is the result of so many people coming together with a common intention of telling a story that was waiting to be told. It connected with an international audience despite regional nuances."
Rajkumar Gupta and Amar Kaushik
Mundra adds, "The Berlinale experience has been rewarding and humbling. We are now excited to take the momentum forward to our impending India release."
In Newton, Rajkummar plays the title role of a clerk on election duty in a conflict-ridden zone while Aaba, shot in Ziro Valley, Arunachal Pradesh, is a tale about the bond between a grandfather and granddaughter.
Tweeting about Aaba's win, Gupta said, "Proud producer... Congrats to all of us."
a still from Aaba
The CICAE forms two juries for every Berlinale, one of them for the forum programme in which Newton was nominated along with 42 films. The jury comprised Spanish film composer, Pedro Barbadillo; Croatian director Tanja Milicic, and French producer Rainer Wothe.
They referred to Newton as a "wonderful and exceptional film for its modular portrayal of Indian culture, the dark humour and ironic approach as well as its positive use of typical clichés in Indian society giving Newton a unique form and style which will delight audiences in arthouse cinemas."