Cast: Kangana Ranaut, Rajkummar Rao
Director: Prakash Kovelamudi
What’s it about:
Bobby Batliwala Grewal (Kangana) is struggling to lead a normal life as she fights off the demons of a repressed childhood. But can she save herself and others from the inner voices that constantly put her in trouble?
From the synopsis, you might think Judgemental Hai Kya is a very serious film with a deeply disturbing narrative. It doesn’t get there until the end of the first half that ends in death – is it a murder or an accident. Who can tell? But before that happens, we’re introduced to a quirky young girl Bobby with acute psychosis whose parents fell to their deaths when she was a child. For a living, she dubs in Hindi for south Indian movies. But for Bobby, nothing is all that simple. She wants to live like the larger-than-life characters she dubs for and hence clicks pictures of her in their get-up at a local studio. Her obsession finds a new source when a young couple moves in as paying guests into her apartment. Their passionate romance ignites the hidden desires within Bobby for the man Keshav (Rajkummar Rao). This even as she uses (and abuses) her own ‘boyfriend’ Varun (Hussain Dalal) nothing more than a bellboy. He also doubles up as her agent and drives her around for daily chores, but when it comes to intimacy, Bobby is off-limits for him. Their strange equation often brings in the comic relief. And the entire first half is filled with fun somewhat light moments as we are thrown into the world of Bobby, but we just get a slight peek into her mind - always a very busy place.
To say that it’s a Kangana show all the way is stating the obvious. The actress has mastered the art of playing quirky, unstable or deeply eccentric characters and she doesn’t disappoint here too. Kangana beautifully brings out Bobby’s vulnerability, insecurities, and complexities. She lets go of her glamorous avatar to play Bobby’s unsettled mind as she goes after what she believes in. Rajkummar Rao is equally superb, but unlike Bobby, his character Keshav doesn’t get the fleshing out that it deserved. There is always a mystery surrounding him, which he portrays with pitch perfection, but the writing of his character leaves a lot to the imagination. The film doesn’t let anyone else shine or have screen space. Jimmy Shergill appears in a cameo that feels wasted.
Kanika Dhillon’s story is original and filled with moments that will constantly keep you wondering about the whos, whats, whys, and hows. But it doesn’t always keep you on the edge, as the film never really becomes a total whodunit or a highly thrilling suspense drama. In the second half, a lot of time is consumed by visualizing the inner voices of Bobby’s mind, some of which are quite repetitive. The climax is explosive (literally), but feels rushed and hence not very convincing. Sure, you will also be left with questions that the narrative doesn’t answer and the complexity of Bobby’s mind is always the basis of this film’s equally complex execution.
Thankfully, director Prakash Kovelamudi uses dark yet fascinating colors and metaphors (Ramayan 2.0) to bring out the ironies of mental illnesses in modern times. He does succeed for the most part, but when the film pushes the envelope harder, the logic goes missing.
So if you don’t mind taking a slightly bumpy ride into the unstable then hop on.