'Judgementall Hai Kya' Review: Bluebeard meets Ramayana in a frenetic tale about troubled people

A Potpourri of Vestiges Review

By Murtaza Ali Khan

Seeing the great English actor Laurence Olivier on stage someone once said that Olivier had so much energy that the stage could not contain him. Watching Kangana Ranaut’s raw energy in Judgementall Hai Kya one gets a feeling that cinema cannot contain her. With each new performance she somehow succeeds in one-upping her previous one. As Bobby, a girl suffering from acute psychosis, she is able to deliver a character that’s endlessly likeable despite being scarily unreliable. The credit, of course, should also go to screenwriter Kanika Dhillon for penning such a whacky yet convincing character.

Watch the video review of Judgementall Hai Kya

Prakash Kovelamudi is yet another filmmaker from the Telugu film industry who succeeds in demonstrating his command over the cinematic medium, thereby proving that language isn’t a barrier as far as cinema is concerned. The choice of lighting, sound, composition, and camera movement in Judgementall Hai Kya really speaks volumes about his confidence as a filmmaker. While a 17th century French folklore called “Bluebeard” serves as a loose reference to the story’s core, Dhillon gives it broad-strokes by bringing in Ramayana which she chooses to tell from a feministic point of view.
Judgementall Hai Kya is not an easy film to register. Every five minutes there is a tonal shift. At one point it takes the form a horror comedy and suddenly it takes the shape of a psychological thriller. At other times it is either a parody or a pastiche (with references to Rajesh Khanna, Mumtaz, RD Burman and ’70s pop culture abound). It takes guts to write something so heady and frenetic and even more courage to direct it. In fact, it is extremely rare to see a commercial Hindi movie that’s so free in terms of narrative. So naturally one has to be in a completely free state of mind to appreciate a movie like this.
Judgementall Hai Kya has a European art house touch to it. Also, the splashes of exuberant colours serve to establish different psychological states. As a result the film talks less and shows more. While Kangana delivers an absolutely knockout performance, Rajkummar Rao manages to hold his own in all the scenes he shares with her. Also, Amyra Dastur, Satish Kaushik, Brijendra Kala, Amrita Puri, and Kanika Dhillon (making her acting debut) deliver memorable cameos. A fascinating exercise in mood and style, the film is certainly a step forward for commercial Hindi cinema. However, its slow setup may make a few restless viewers nitpick during the first forty minutes of the runtime during which the movie undergoes several tonal fluctuations. But things begin to take shape by the interval point and from there on the film becomes doubly potent in telling a compelling story about troubled people.
Rating: 8/10
A version of this review was first published in The Sunday Guardian.
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