Whether or not you’re easily drawn to this alternate world (let alone its conclusion), what can’t be denied is how brilliantly Kanika Dhillon carves out a fine suspense-thriller.

Judgementall Hai Kya
U/A: Comedy, Drama, Thriller
Director: Prakash Kovelamudi
Cast: Kangana Ranaut, Rajkummar Rao, Amyra Dastur, Hussain Dalal

With the script firmly in place, this picture, competently directed by Bollywood debutant Prakash Kovelamudi, immaculately plays with form (sharp editing, art-direction, cinematography)–going wild at times, but never so haywire that it’s impossible to self-contain, at any point. Which is a huge relief.

There’s something deeply cinematic about cinema within cinema (with its own play of sound, light, and shadows). That is really how this film roughly starts out, with the lead (female) actor cast as an over-enthu voice-over artiste, li’l like Robin Williams from Mrs Doubtfire (1993).

The girl here dubs for regional language movies, and has a boy always by her side. You could dub him a hanger-on, rather than a boyfriend, since she’s averse to any kind of physical, let alone sexual intimacy, making him not even a friend with benefits. She, on the other hand, imagines a new world with every film she dubs, placing herself at the centre of it–totally sucked into its genre. Odd? Hell, yeah.

Is she “mental,” as best friends (Wayne, Garth) from my favourite childhood movie, Wayne’s World (1992) might repeatedly ask? No, you can’t pose that question anymore. Which is why this film’s title has been changed from Mental Hai Kya, to Judgementall Hai Kya, since we’re all going mental, with excessive judgment, in these fascistically, politically correct times.

Kangana Ranaut plays that quirkiest/kookiest lead, Bobby, you’ve seen in a Hindi film for long (if not forever!). Apparently, she suffers from acute psychosis and dissociative identity disorder. Don’t know details of what that means. What matters though is she owns the part with fair empathy, inimitable clarity/consistency, rather than simply dish out a madwoman (or man) hinged on over-acting, that has quite often been perceived as good acting in the past.

Face/look-wise, there is a transformational quality to Ranaut that anyone vaguely interested in fashion will be able to tell, casually leafing over her portfolio shots. It gives her definite edge over her contemporaries when it comes to roles veering toward the edge.

What about the boy next door? I mean Rajkummar Rao, whose character moves in with his young wife, next-door to the bazooka (Bobby). Well, he’s supposed to be the normal-opposite. And yet there’s enough for him here to display a range of emotions, playing off so well with the female-lead.

There’s something to be said about audiences of late who, more often than not, walk into a theatre to check out performances for how different they are from the last time they watched the same actors on screen. This has an encouraging effect on actors themselves–picking up scripts over how far they can go with the film, rather than astrologically predicting how many people will walk in to theatres!

Kanika Dhillon’s script is far more in line with the latter. Her last was the incredibly realistic, but overflowing with as much ‘Amritsar’ madness, Manmarziyaan (2018). This one is more a first-world flight of indoor imagination.

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