The storyline in sum:
The parallel movie inside the theatre
There was a parallel movie running inside the theatre mostly through passing comments and laughter.
A few examples might suffice the contention
Newton asking one of the election trainers about the reasons and possible measures to transform the work culture of the public offices. The trainer says 'you will be like them soon'
People say - thhik bolechhe, rightly said and laughter breaks
The trainer continues '... or just continue your duty honestly and remember honest is not something to be pride about, it should be a regular thing, you are not doing anything extra'
When Newton instructs and imposes his 'magistrate' authority as presiding officer over CRPF
When village leader fails to understand the system of parliament and voting
When CRPF pushes the villagers, even beat them up to make voter turn out
People- uff deshi chicken, and laughter.
When CRPF finally beat up Newton
Yes laughter again. Some even said why should he took up the gun and challenged authority.
There were several fine tuned and unsaid moments deeply embedded in the film that actually created a parallel narrative of authority relations, power positions and helplessness of all characters involved.
Experiences of a government employee
Dimensions of misuse of authority positions-
Lets break the stereotype that people in authority exercise authority and often do things which are white collar crime or misuse of power or plain and simple corruption. Interestingly, whoever posseses whatever authority has a potential to misuse it. For example if you are a group D staff in charge of giving photocopy of a particular application forms you can tell your superior 'sir the copies are exhausted please come tomorrow.' If that superior staff is a newly recruited, the one who might believe in you, will go back and come again. Likewise, the superior official one day will find out that group D staff will do things easily if he is given a cigarette. Or may be some affiliation to an organisation or a particular superior or senior person would help! Its a vicious cycle that continues. I began with the lowest position but it continues at different levels and with complex combinations under a catchall umbrella term 'office politics'. Newton has precisely shown with a fun filled feature these issues, often subtly. His supposedly protectors, supposedly working under him because of his magistrate power given by Election Commission of India has been undermined by the CRPF jawans over and over again first through verbally and then physically and all of them remain unchanged.
Corruption in everyday offices
Corruption and its acceptance - corruption as culture
Newton brings the accepted dimensions of corruption beautifully. The spokesperson of the Gond tribe happens to be the BLO lady who often says 'humari iyha aisa hi hota hai'- this is what happens here when they see no one was coming to vote or CRPF forcefully brings men to vote. When the tribal had to come, they were asked if they think this voting will bring any change in life and one of them replied 'no' and then continued to shake his head. A spectator would wait for a while if there is any addition to that answer- however, he utters no again.
Election experience - no one is Newton
None of the officials ever thought of or made plan for what to do if CRPF or the protectors play dirty! Precisely what happens when you go to booth. If the forces cooperate you can achieve a fair election. All polling personnel know they can dispose their duties if there is a central force protection and if there isn't any, they cannot do anything and have to compromise.
Experience of an anthropologist
Yes, during my fieldwork days I have seen places where Maoists are the sole help providers, running parallel government because state never looked at them, never cared for. There are other places where people are kicked of regularly by both the Maoists and the state.