Kangana-Rajkummar deliver electrifying acts in Kanika Dhillon’s hugely engaging thriller
Cat-and-mouse narratives make for my favourite stories. It’s in these where you find the best of humour, suspense, theatrics and entertainment, eventually. Actors Kangana Ranaut and Rajkummar Rao sink their teeth into a delicious game of whodunit around a murder-mystery that makes ‘Judgementall Hai Kya’, directed by Prakash Kovelamudi, a delightful watch.
Bobby Batliwala Grewal (Ranaut) is a dubbing artiste by profession with a daunting past that has scarred her to a point of no return. While lending her voice to B-grade films for TIER 2 markets, Bobby is nurturing aspirations to become an actress herself, an ambition that speaks through her Photoshopped pictures in the costumes worn by the leading actresses and the ability to get deep into the characters she lends her voice to. She crafts origami hacks through newspaper clippings carrying stories of domestic abuse, kidnapping, rape and murder. She is suffering from acute psychosis but she’d prefer being locked up in an asylum than taking medication.
Enter Keshav (Rao) and his wife Reema (Amyra Dastur) as the married couple who move in as tenants in Bobby’s neighbourhood, vaguely based in Mumbai’s Dadar-Parsi colony. Bobby is fixated with her new neighbours. She sneaks in through their private moments and intrudes in between their weekend plans. And then a murder happens.
Written by Kanika Dhillon (Manmarziyaan, Kedarnath), the script is layered and sprinkled with clever moments and lines. The background music by Daniel B George (Andha Dhun) perfectly compliments the narrative and adds the necessary intrigue. The stand-out marvels though are the sleek production design by Ravi Shrivastav and the cinematography by Pankaj Kumar (Haider, Talvar, Rangoon, Tummbad) that serve as visual treats. The editing however, is a bit questionable. With as many as three editors on-board (Shweta Venkat, Prashanth Ramachandran and Shieeba Sehgal) and Pooja Ladha Surti (Andha Dhun) credited as consulting editor, the film has been edited crisply but it comes across as underwhelming and simplistic. Especially, the final act. There was room to indulge in and build up on the suspense revolving around the main protagonists, but the screenplay deploys an unnecessary romantic track and a contemporary staging of the Ramayana which tend to derail the viewing experience.
The performances however, override the technical aspects. Love her or hate her, but its impossible to take your eyes off Kangana. The actress commands your attention, each time she appears before you. Its to her credit that you at least care for the character, if not empathize. Bobby isn’t looking to be patronized. A predating colleague makes a pass at her and she slits off his nose, and is happy to bear the consequences. What she wants us to reflect upon is gaslighting and our ability to comprehend the truth. Rajkummar invests the right amount of earnestness and mystique to Keshav. But we surprisingly also get to see a brooding, sexy side of him which we wish would be explored more by his directors in future films. The silent showstealer though is Hussain Dalal as Bobby’s agent and at-bay boyfriend Varun. He gets some of the film’s best lines and scenes and you’re bound to chuckle even before he does or says something.
If not for the underwhelming climax, ‘Judgementall Hai Kya’ is well-made and ambitious in its effort. A stunning debut by the director and another feather in the cap of its lead actors.