Judgementall Hai Kya
Cast: Kangana Ranaut, Rajkummar Rao
Director: Prakash Kovelamudi
Meet Bobby- a little girl hiding and watching a spat between her parents. She knows what to expect next - an ugly fight that will result in heart-breaking consequences. While in hiding she notices a cockroach- one that becomes a leitmotif for every time she spots what is wrong with the normal around her.
Bobby, now an orphan, understandably grows up to be a problematic presence for her extended family. Like in all such instances of people with mental health issues, there are triggers to an outburst. In Bobby's case, it is when she has a gut feel-- or peit se awaaz as she puts it --about something not quite right about a man-woman relationship. But are her fears or hunches always right or merely an extension of her paranoia?
Writer Kanika Dhillon and director Prakash Kovelamudi do their best to tell a story that requires a great deal of sensitivity for it to not reinforce old stereotypes and clichés surrounding insanity. To this curios mix, Dhillon adds a hint of crime related to women as also the precarious situations that women may land themselves in.
Bobby’s character is sculpted out of this creative material, layer upon layer, to help understand why she behaves the way she does. For instance, she makes origami birds from newspaper cuttings of news on domestic abuse, rape and suchlike. She suspects problems between couples and is quick to spot one. Her insanity is established adequately to make us love Bobby enough to forgive her the excessive behaviour and fret about whether she could actually be mixing up the facts in her already muddled head. This is a character unlike most other in recent films with protagonists who suffered from one condition or the other.
Judgementall Hai Kya makes you sympathetic to the character, but you are never entirely convinced that Bobby is blameless. Like the time when she reveals the truth about her cousin’s fiancée being gay—Bobby instantly becomes as much the offender as the man in question. Dhillon stitches together these instances with great felicity and Kovelamudi narrates this quirky tale with flair.
The second half, however, slows down with the introduction of a Ram Leela sequence where Sita seeks out the Raavan who may be out there to abduct her. One can see why this metaphor would be tempting for the writer to add in but this piece despite some slick editing by Prashanth Ramachandran does slow down the pace a tiny bit and forces the following sequences to dovetail into it instead of expanding into an even more taut and edgy thriller. Excellent production design by Ravi Srivastava and Sheetal Sharma’s costumes, both notable features in the film deserve a hat tip too.
Kangana Ranaut once again turns in a bravura performance- sincere, believable and watchable all the time. Every pause and grimace when she is battling with the voices in her head accentuates Bobby's confusion and her struggle to tell apart the normal from what is not. Ranaut gives the role a touch of the raw and real which is unique and totally owns it. Rajkummar Rao, fits the bill as Keshav, and does his best with a part that settles for broad strokes. But his quieter presence is a good foil to Kangana’s always-on-the-edge Bobby. The posse of highly competent actors in smaller roles help heighten the thriller element in the film. Hussain Dalal brings to the film the comic relief and the brief parts played by Amrita Puri, Amyra Dastur, Brijendra Kala, Jimmy Sheirgill and Satish Kaushik, all fit in neatly within the puzzle.
Judgemental Hai Kya was one of those films that I kept thinking about long after the theatre lights had come on. With its protagonist, a mentally disturbed person thrown into a murder mystery, both the premise and its inherent conflict are clever and original. To Kovelamudi’s credit, he keeps the script’s humour intact without caricaturing symptoms or shaming those who suffer from such problems. As per conventional wisdom, this could be too risky a project for the big screen but producer Ekta Kapoor displays her creative chops once again by picking on a tricky subject and serving up an eclectic yet enjoyable thriller.
For those inclined to cinema adventures beyond the candy floss, Judgementall Hai Kya, is definitely worth a visit to the theatre for some mental-floss.
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