Good actors trapped in ‘foul play’

Film: Judgemental Hai Kya

Cast: Kangana Ranaut, Rajkumar Rao, Jimmy Shergill, Amrya Dastur, Amrita Puri, Satish Kaushik, Brijendra Kala, Sudev Nair, Satish Kaushik, Hrishita bhatt, Rajesh Jais, Hussain Dalal

Director: Prakash Kovelamudi

Rating: * * ½

This Kanika Dhillon scripted, Prakash Kovelamudi directed attempt at quirky, black comedy, whodunit-thriller drives it’s ‘Aajkal normal logon se dar lagta hai’ theme home with a rollickingly insane series of attitudinal shifts represented by Keshav (Rajkumar Rao) and Bobby Garewal (Kangana Ranaut) – two suspects in a murder being investigated by plain-clothes policeman (Satish Kaushik) and his assistant (Brijendra Kala).

This film is a brave attempt to give ‘personality dysfunctions’ more head but the 121 minute run of play is so opportunistic in its attempt to expand on its multi-genre threads that lucidity and consistency fall foul!

Both the suspects live lives that are more illusionary than real. When Bobby meets her new tenants, a young married couple Keshav and Rima (Amrya Dastur) who are renting a part of her apartment, she views them as normal and her curiosity is aroused. But once the murder happens, all her suspicions are directed towards Keshav, who she thinks is the culprit.

Their so-called perfectly normal life doesn’t appear so any more – coloured as it gets by the runaway imagination of a damaged persona whose quirks (apparently originated from a traumatic childhood) are governed by eclectic affirmations costumed in characters she dubs for (she is a dubbing artist for films and also makes origami cranes out of gruesome newspaper story cuttings).

Dhillon turns the ‘Gas Light’ construct on its head by making a loony observer the catalyst of a criminal makeover. Even ‘The Ramayana’ comes in for a modernised reboot with Jimmy Shergill directing the play within the movie and in turn, making a strong impact on Bobby’s helter-skelter psyche.

Unfortunately neither Dhillon nor Kovelamudi can make more than shallow stabs at depth here. Dhillon and Kovelamudi play out the quirkiness to such an extent that it almost feels as if all the characters inhabiting this fiction are oft-kilter.

The screenplay is obviously manipulative and tends to contrivance. While the characters are not stereotypical they don’t exactly seem believable either. There are a zany set of ideas within but none get the treatment that could bring on the laughs. Humour gets waylaid in the attempt to shock – both visually and aurally.

The actors inhabiting this distortional universe, are the ones who provoke the audience into believing there’s some sense of accomplishment here. Kangana Ranaut’s channelising of a disturbed mind showcases her undeniable talent while Rajkumar Rao’s Keshav heralds hitherto hidden depths of an endowment that is waiting for deeper exploration.

Even Kaushik, Brijendra Kala, Sheirgill, Amrya Dastur, Amrita Puri and Hussain Dalal make strong attempts to instil some sense into this unhinged attempt at genre anarchy. Even with such thespianism to support it, Kovelamudi’s stylised exertions only lead to pandemonium!

Johnsont307@gmail.com