Newton, India’s official entry to the Oscars for the Foreign Language Film category, had come under the scanner for allegedly being a rip-off of Secret Ballot but the director of the 2001 Iranian film, Babak Payami, has confirmed that there is no sign of plagiarism in the Amit Masurkar-directed movie.
Payami, in an interview with Cinestaan, said he watched the film and did not find any “specific stylistic or structural similarities” in Newton.
“I saw the film and there is no sign of plagiarism. These are completely different films. Any similarities between the two films are broad and I don’t see any specific stylistic or structural similarities between the two films. These are two different films on a common theme,” he said in the interview.
Amid reports that the film has striking similarities with Secret Ballot, director-producer Anurag Kashyap came forward in support of Masurkar and reached out to Payami and film’s producer Marco Muller to get their opinion.
He shared a screenshot of the then yet-to-be published interview with Payami on Facebook, where the Iranian filmmaker said he was happy for the selection of Newton at the Oscars and had no issue with the thematic similarities between the two films.
Kashyap had also sent the link of Newton to Muller, who after watching the film, told the director that Newton was “definitely no rip-off from our Secret Ballot (even if the general concept is the same).”
Newton follows the story of a government employee’s struggle to conduct a free and fair election in a conflict-hit area of Chhattisgarh, while Secret Ballot focuses on a woman ballot officer, who visits a desolate place in Iran to convince people to cast their vote.