Balaji Telefilm’s ‘Judgmentall Hain Kya’ starring Rajkumar Rao and Kangana Ranaut is a much-awaited film of 2019. What’s more exciting is both the stars are coming together for the first time after entertaining the viewers in the much-loved film ‘Queen’.
Directed by- Prakash Kovelmudi
Produced by- Ekta Kapoor, Shobha Kapoor, Shailesh R Singh
Star Cast- Kangana Ranaut, Rajkumar Rao, Jimmy Shergill, Amyra Dastur, Brijendra Kala
Bobby (Kangana) suffers from acute psychosis, is a parent-less girl, and lives all by herself with a delusional cockroach (apparently the result of her childhood trauma). Keshav (Rajkumar Rao), Bobby’s tenant, lives next door with his wife, and their seductive romance evokes her longing for a romantic relationship too. This “bildungsroman” narrative shows us child Bobby, grown-up Bobby and how she deals with “dissociative identity disorder”.
In the very first scene, Kangana is shown to be upside-down against a wall full of eccentric pictures of herself. This gives a hint of something uncanny; but something which does not come suddenly. It’s a story of how domestic violence has an effect on a child’s psyche in the backdrop of great epic ‘Ramayana’. Why the film is unconventional in its narrative is that it starts with Kangana’s mental health issues. It begins with “Sita chasing Ravan” by foreseeing his intentions.
The film aims to question the pre-conceived notion of what’s normal and what’s abnormal. To some extent it succeeds. But the film is dealing with an issue that is very much valid but cannot be easily comprehended unlike an otherwise commercial film. Maybe, that’s the beauty of the film. It gives a lot to engage you in its plot but demands equal amount of dedication to solve the puzzle.
What’s more, the film is objective in its treatment of mental health. I myself have suffered Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) in the past. Hence, I was skeptical about how it’s going to conduct itself towards mental health issues. Is it going to reduce it to just a comical element like Bollywood has done with issues like homosexuality and erectile dysfunction in the past? I’m glad to say that not a single moment in the film has poked fun at real disorders such as “acute psychosis” and “dissociative identity disorder”. And as an audience who has watched the film to form an opinion, I feel “Mental Hain Kya” suits the title more. It’s a puzzle why some people forced a change of title.
That being said, I feel the treatment of the mental disease that Kangana suffers from is not well portrayed in the film. In fact, there is no real medical treatment shown in the film. Moreover, the mental asylum she is taken to looks more like a well appointed and sanitised centre, quite far removed from the normal image of a ‘dark’ and neglected kind of place. As such, the movie scenes do not give a feel of the picture we’ve in mind of ‘that’ place.
A beautiful element in the film though is its personification of plots or characters by using metaphors. For example, how Ranaut makes origami out of old newspapers which are imprinted with crime and murder stories. Her obsession with black cats, and love for T-shirts mostly imprinted with black cats, signify Bobby’s unhealthy mental state. These allegories are difficult to understand without having watched the film. But if you watch it, it will raise questions on your mind as well.
The film has everything that it requires to be a brilliant murder mystery, such as hyperbolic setting, cinematography, dialogues etc. But what it lacks is the suspense. By the beginning of the second-half, one knows what’s going to come. It creates that aura but it fails to hold the mystery.
Talking about the performance of Rajkumar Rao and Kangana Ranaut, they’re flawless, even though the film has its own share of flaws. Kangana, the way she chases a cockroach which only she can see, is mind boggling. It makes you sympathise with her, but it won’t move you. And that’s not because of Ranaut or Rao or any other actor. It’s just sheer laziness in the story telling.
Tip: Go watch Kangana without any biases!