Cast: Kangana Ranaut, Rajkummar Rao, Amyra Dastur, Jimmy Sheirgill
Director: Prakash Kovelamudi
Kangana Ranaut and Rajkummar Rao are in top form in a film that requires them to play unconventional characters. In ‘Judgementall Hai Kya’, the female lead is diagnosed with severe psychosis and while the male lead seems harmless, his behaviour too seems somehow suspect. The storytelling is engaging, no doubt, but the approach to mental health appears to be flippant. It seems to trivialise and stereotype issues of mental health, so much so that almost everyone unabashedly calls the heroine ‘pagal’.
Here’s how it goes. Childhood trauma seems to have triggered psychotic behavior in Bobby, played adeptly by Kangana, a dubbing artiste with anger management issues and a history of violent behavior. Despite having been institutionalised several times, she refuses to take her medication. Her psychosis makes her see, hear and believe things that aren’t real. She frequently hallucinates and is delusional and obsessive. She lives alone in a bungalow and when new tenants — a young couple played by Rajkummar and Amyra — move in, she initially seems infatuated by the new neighbour. Soon, however, Bobby is convinced that he wants to kill his wife. There’s no immediate provocation for her to suspect him, but she starts spying on the couple and tries to convince the wife about her husband’s intentions.
Obviously, Bobby’s history of mental illness and her incoherent reasoning doesn’t go down well with the cops. Her resorting to violence in search of ‘justice’ lands her in an asylum. After two years, when she’s finally released, very little seems to have changed about her. While visiting a cousin in London, she discovers that her former neighbour is now her brother-in-law. She’s worried about her sister’s safety, convinced that he wants to kill her too. This anxiety again triggers hallucinations and eccentricities. It then raises doubts over her gut feelings, which could also be interpreted as an obsession with Rajkummar’s character.
The filmmakers do an in incredible job of building the tension — the audience has to walk a tightrope, whether to believe a psychotic person or to doubt the very intention of her dubious claims. Yes, she has a problem but has her insanity driven her to become a murderer? The script is taut and it seems impossible to predict what is going to happen next.
Kangana pitches her portrayal perfectly — as the eccentric person who has both anger and trust issues, she comes across as a natural — and pull this one off with complete ease. The chaos in her mind is almost palpable, but you often wonder if the chaotic mind is organised enough to pull off a perfect murder?
Rajkummar, as the slightly questionable character, gets the nuances bang on. He convinces you of how much he loves his wife and, despite the white lies he peddles, he seems to be a good husband. However, there are times when there’s a sub-layer that seems to suggest that there’s something amiss. He seems open about his past, but is there something that he hasn’t revealed?
Does the wife need to be protected from her husband or is the unhinged Bobby the actual threat? The narrative keeps one guessing.
What, however, was a put off for me is that the film seems to stereotype most of our beliefs about mental health. In times such as these, I think we need to be more cognizant of how it is not really funny any longer to treat this matter lightly.
Despite the flaws, the film worked for me because of the two actors who deliver convincing performances in a film that requires them to step out of their comfort zone.