Synopsis – Following the story of two quirky individuals whose lives pivot between reality and illusions.
My Take – In Western cinema, thrillers based on people suffering from mental health disorders have quite a success rate. Films like Psycho, Jacob’s Ladder, Memento, Fight Club, Misery, Primal Fear, American Psycho, Nightcrawler, and Split are a few among those which have handled their basic idea with a sense of subtlety and as a result have been lapped up by the audience.
However, for years Bollywood scriptwriters have predominantly shown hesitation to flirt with the concept, mainly due to the fear of crossing over the insensitivity boundary line for the sake of entertainment, as a result, making the arrival of this Prakash Kovelamudi directed and Kanika Dhillon written film, quite a gutsy attempt.
Released over the weekend amidst controversies, a seemingly go to thing for Kangana Ranaut starring film nowadays, the film is without a doubt very different from what one would expect.
While it also means it may not fit everyone’s definition of entertainment, to its credit, one must concede that the film keeps the element of suspense alive all the way till the end and succeeds in pushing the envelope as a dark, psychological whodunit, with a social message weaved subtly and shrouded in confusion abundantly that can’t be ignored.
While the film does suffers from its own pacing issues and complications, it does, however, break away from the routine stuff, hence deserving a watch, especially if you are fans of the genre and the lead actors.
The story follows Bobby (Kangana Ranaut), who is suffering from acute psychosis, during a childhood tragedy, which left her mentally traumatized. While she financially supports herself by working as a dubbing artist for South Indian films, brought to her mainly by her sex-starved manager/boyfriend Varun (Hussain Dalal), she remains paranoid, nervy, in and out of psychiatric institutions, and worse, remains so influenced by the characters she dubs for, that she starts living their lives.
However, her live takes an interesting turn, when a young couple, Keshav (Rajkummar Rao) and Reema (Amyra Dastur), moves into the apartment she’s letting out. She quickly becomes obsessed with Keshav and is unable to digest their picture-perfect love story and smells something fishy. Her doubts intensify when due to an unfortunate accident, Reema is killed. However, since Bobby is mentally disturbed, nobody wants to believe in her tale.
This segment of the story keep you on the edge of the seat in the first half of the film with its fair blend of suspense, excitement and engrossing performances by the cast. The basic idea of this film comes from a point of perspective. Our interpretation of normal and abnormal depends way too much on being a regular person. And among the not so regular ones, we tend to call some mental, simply because they weren’t afraid to be themselves in the public eye.
Here, writer Kanika Dhillon is somewhat juggling with this idea in her new script and the end result is an interesting one. On one hand the film explores the emotional turmoil Bobby is going through, for example how she has no filters in communicating things, and how her loneliness is making her look into the privacy of people, as a result her suggestions and warnings are interpreted as madness.
In the thriller aspect, it is clear that debutante director Prakash Kovelamudi understands her vision and maintains the unpredictability and complexity throughout the film. The shifting between these two tones makes this film an impressive interpretation of the concept.
The way the film shows the irony of people calling others mental by normalizing their judgmental attitude was used in the film to create some hilarious comical moments. Here, director Kovelamudi displays a narrative style that is quirky, edgy and nonlinear but to his credit, one must say that it is one that absorbs you instantly.
The mood is set with shots in dappled light, play of light and shadows and high contrast shots. The music also adds on to the cinematic experience without coming down upon it too heavily.
But as it is with most film nowadays, it is the second half which brings the film down. Despite an excellent 1st half, the story never quite sets up an engaging cat-and-mouse between Bobby and Keshav. Unconvincing coincidences are forced into the screenplay in order to create scope for twists, and Bobby’s hallucinations get repetitive.
Plus, for a film that seeks to shock with an ending that virtually turns the story on its head, the climax is a predictable one. The writing and execution should have been sharper towards the end.
Thankfully, the film is mainly dependent on its capable performers. While Rajkummar Rao stands out with a role that is suave and macho and his stylish performance, Kangana Ranaut steals the show especially the author backed narrative gives her that scope smartly. Despite the controversies she chooses to surround herself with, Kangana continues to shine in every role she chooses to appear in. Here, she is in almost every scene, and does justice to the character.
In supporting roles, Amyra Dastur and Amrita Puri are also very good, while Hussain Dalal, Satish Kaushik and Bijendra Kala are fun to watch. As always, Jimmy Sheirgill is refreshing in a cameo. On the whole, ‘Judgementall Hai Kya’ is a flawed thriller-comedy which deserves a watch for its novelty factor.
Directed – Prakash Kovelamudi
Rated – R
Run Time – 116 minutes