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Judgementall Hai Kya

Rating: 2.5

July 26, 2018

Cast: Kangana Ranaut, Rajkummar Rao, Satish Kaushik, Brijendra Kala, Hussain Dalal, Amyra Dastur, Amrita Puri, Jimmy Shergill

Director: Prakash Kovelamudi

Judgementall Hai Kya, starring Kangana Ranaut, is something of a mixed bag…not unlike its protagonist. The film is alternately a black comedy, a whodunit, a trippy mind-bender, but also frequently a slog. It is both wildly original and frustratingly bizarre.

Kangana plays Bobby, a young woman with unresolved childhood trauma, who has been diagnosed with acute psychosis. I’m no expert on the condition so I can’t confirm or question the veracity of its symptoms. But Bobby is prone to bouts of paranoia and hysterical outbursts, she hears voices in her head, and displays erratic behaviour. Working as a dubbing artiste for B-movies, she immerses herself (literally!) into the characters she voices, dreaming up scenarios, and photoshopping her face into film stills.

Pretty soon her fantasies extend to include Keshav (Rajkummar Rao), a tenant who moves into the flat next door with his wife. Before you know it Bobby is spying on the couple in their private moments, crashing their weekend getaway, and stalking him in the dead of the night. Then someone is killed, and Keshav and Bobby are both suspects.

It’s an interesting premise that leads one to ponder the matter of Bobby as an unreliable narrator, and the tendency of men to undermine strong women by raising questions about their sanity. The film’s first hour, although choppy, is nevertheless intriguing. Kangana, who is no stranger to unhinged characters, is immensely watchable even if she’s aced this shtick before in films like Gangster, Woh Lamhe, and Fashion. To be fair though, the characters she played in each of those films were marked by a delicate fragility; Bobby is driven by single-minded conviction.

It helps also that director Prakash Kovelamudi and writer Kanika Dhillon use a generous serving of humour to ensure that the proceedings seldom become too grim. Satish Kaushik as a bhujia-chomping inspector and Brijendra Kala as his sidekick bring plenty laughs, as does Hussain Dalal in the role of Bobby’s frustrated boyfriend.

But Judgementall Hai Kya hits the proverbial iceberg immediately after intermission. The story moves to London, barely held together by a coincidence that never feels convincing. Bobby and Keshav cross paths again, but at this point the script asks that you suspend not only disbelief but also even basic common sense.

Bobby takes a job as an understudy for Sita in a stage production of Ramayana 2.0, a modern reimagining of the classic story. This plot device labours to make a point about looking at the Sita v Ravana situation with new eyes. It’s all very confusing, and frankly very confused. By now the script has come completely undone, leading to a lets-throw-everything-at-the-wall bonkers climax that felt like it went on forever.

That’s true of the film too. At only two hours, Judgementall Hai Kya feels overlong and overstretched. The film’s second half is so weak, it makes you forget a lot of what you enjoyed in the first half. Which is a real shame because it’s shot and scored imaginatively, and makes a strong case for inclusion and empathy. Kangana Ranaut is solid, and Rajkummar Rao brings a real element of mystery to his character, never allowing us to feel like we’ve entirely figured the guy out. But the film falls way short of greatness on account of a muddled script that loses steam halfway.

I’m going with two-and-a-half out of five for Judgementall Hai Kya. While you admire the attempt at originality, you can’t help feeling frustrated at just how it all comes apart in the end.

(This review first aired on CNN News18)

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