Raise your hand if you ever asked yourself whether Kangana Ranaut, the outspoken Indian National Award-winning actress, is beginning to lose the proverbial plot.
Her colourful, checkered personality and her brazen antics like where she head-butts the media makes her a tease of sorts.
Watching Judgementall Hai Kya, in which she plays Bobby — a quirky woman living with a severe mental health disorder where she hears multiple voices in her head— isn’t going to provide us with any concrete answers to our loaded question. But it will make you wonder, where does Ranaut, the performer, take charge and where does Ranaut, the defiant diva, let up in Judgmentall Hai Kya.
Watching her in action is like attempting to solve a frustrating, but hugely satisfying mental math puzzle. It doesn’t fully add up, but the answer to our conundrum lurks somewhere.
Her turn as the crazy, slightly unhinged Bobby, will also remind you that Ranaut is a powerhouse performer who can be incredibly compelling in every frame she occupies. She’s deeply flawed and disturbed in this film, but there’s a vulnerability to her that cannot be erased.
Bobby, a child with a violent, abusive past, turns into a quirky adult who lives in a parallel universe of sorts.
She’s no Miss Congeniality and the irony doesn’t escape us when she asks her dispensable date, Varun — a hilarious Hussain Dalal — to be as amiable and easy-going as a potato, a vegetable that goes with every dish. She’s like a prickly cactus, but is incredibly confident about her wiles.
Bobby isn’t your conventional syrupy Bollywood heroine. She’s brassy, bold and belligerent. Her conviction that something is off with her new tenants — a supremely gorgeous and loved-up couple played by Rajkumar Rao and Amyra Dastur — forms the spine of this psychological thriller laced with comedy.
The biggest strength of this film is the smartly written lines by Kanika Dhillon and the wicked act by another National Award-winning actor Rao as this suave, slick sociopath Keshav.
Ranaut and Rao are a diabolical duo on the big screen. Both are crazy and enigmatic enough to pull off a film that leaves you second-guessing each other. They seem to the masters of ‘who’s more cuckoo now?’.
There’s a scene in which a rather seductive Rao threatens his nosy and odd landlady Bobby that he’s a bigger psycho than her and that she shouldn’t push his buttons.
He was menacing, yet oddly flippant.
Rao struck that chill-but-crazy tone like a boss. The film is elevated due to their combined charisma. The mystery and the climax isn’t particularly gripping. You may guess the ending from a mile away, but you never take your eyes off the road filled with warped players either.
The juxtaposition of Indian mythology Ramayana — where its central character Sita gets abducted by a villain — and the murky drama in Bobby’s lives in the second half feel slightly forced and contrived. It’s pretentious and fortunately the director Prakash Kovelamudi doesn’t pull at that thread too long.
JHK is a perfect example of a well-cast film filled with supremely talented actors. Whether it’s the highly serviceable actor Jimmy Sheirgill as a drama director in this psychological thriller or Dastur as the winsome wife, every actor does their bit. There are parts when the film was threatening to get derailed with its overt Indian mythological references, but that shouldn’t be deal breaker.
Judgemental Hai Kya is a hugely satisfying, snappy thriller with its 1 hour and 56 minutes running time. Entering Bobby and Keshav’s muddled heads is a risk worth taking.
Film: Judgmentall Hai Kya
Director: Prakash Kovelamudi
Cast: Kangana Ranaut, Rajkummar Rao, Hussain Dalal and Amyra Dastur
Stars: 3.5 out of 5