‘Judgementall Hai Kya’ review: Kangana Ranaut plays mind games with the audience

Kangana Ranaut in ‘Judgementall Hai Kya’  

The one big issue with most Indian thrillers, mysteries and horror films is the urgency to provide neat closures, than letting things remain tantalisingly unexplained. The curse of the explicatory works against Judgementall Hai Kya as well. But then it is never quite clear what the film wants to be. A psychological thriller? A black comedy? What could have otherwise been a great thing about Judgementall... is its refusal to get boxed in, which also proves to be its undoing. It ends up trying to be a lot more than what it is and somewhere falls between the many stools it wants to stretch itself on.

The first half tries to venture into a kind of screwball-mind games zone that Hindi cinema normally doesn’t touch with a bargepole; and it holds rather well. Two eccentric individuals, a dubbing artiste and wannabe actor — Bobby (Kangana Ranaut) and Keshav (Rajkummar Rao) — are thrown together and then a freak death follows. All the characters around the two: from Bobby’s sex-deprived boyfriend to the investigating cops, are also kooky to the core.

Whimsy gets thrown in with the merging of the real and the reel, a black cat called Panauti (purveyor of bad luck) and use of devices like a flying cockroach (which is computer-generated, we are informed right at the start of the film, lest someone cries cruelty to insects) and that boy at the turn of the road standing with fortune cookie messages for Bobby. Are they a creation of her mind? What is real and what is delusional? Is Keshav hiding something? Who is manipulating whom? What to make of Bobby’s Norman Bates-like voyeuristic ways? And the violent stories she tells that end with practical messages like “wear your seatbelt”? So far, good fun.

Judgementall Hai Kya
  • Director: Prakash Kovelamudi
  • Starring: Kangana Ranaut, Rajkummar Rao, Brijendra Kala, Satish Kaushik
  • Run time: 121.01
  • Storyline: What happens when two eccentric individuals are thrown together? With a freak death in between. Do sparks fly?

Both Ranaut and Rao are perfectly fine-tuned to their characters and to each other. A dash of poignancy adds to the demons in Bobby’s head and, in turn, Ranaut’s rendition of her troubled mind; something that could have lapsed into a stereotype in the hands of a lesser actor.

In the second half, things steadily collapse and film becomes a confused mess. A protracted reinterpretation of Ramayana as a play, and issues of male toxicity and domestic violence get hammered in, when they are amply evident. Then there are the surreal characters and devices that alienate, rather than engage. There is a wisp of an interesting relationship developing between Bobby and the Ramayana play director played by Jimmy Shergill, but it gets a short shrift. Some moments turn out unintentionally laughable, and it all ends in a totally convenient and clumsy reveal that we anyhow saw coming.

Eventually, Judgementall... turns out to be Ranaut’s assertion that she is much misunderstood, but will live the way she wants to — “Apne hisse ka jeena” (Your own slice of life and way of living) — as an individual, and an actor. But it could well mean more for a few of us. With the kind of irrationality and lack of logic we anyhow see in the world around, perhaps it’s those branded mad by the supposedly sane, who should take over. I came back with that in my head.

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Printable version | Apr 28, 2021 11:16:01 PM |

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