Judgementall Hai Kya Is A Nuanced Portrayal Of A Woman With A Mental Illness

Posted: August 2, 2019

Judgementall Hai Kya was released amidst a lot of controversies. However, the plot of the movie keeps you more on the edge of your seat than the controversy did!

There is a quote I read long back that says, “Everyone is nuts inside the safe sanctuary of our minds”.

Bobby (Kangana Ranaut), who suffers a childhood trauma of unimaginable magnitude loses that necessary human skill to confine her insanity inside her head and is diagnosed with acute psychosis.

Throughout the film, Bobby is peeled layer by layer, and with each layer, we see different facets of her, some bizarre, some annoying and some heart warming.

She is a loner with no friends or need for them. She finds solace in making paper birds and hanging them all over her house. She relentlessly chases and swats cockroaches (products of her hallucination) wherever she spots them, be it on the TV screen or even the neighbour’s drawing room.

Bobby does have a full-time job, though, as a dubbing artist, a profession that suits her desires to break free from her uninspiring realities and imagine herself as the character to whom she is lending the voice. She becomes that person for the time being. On her wall hang photographs of her in the various photoshopped ‘dubbing’ avatars.

Her life takes a turn when her latest dubbing assignment in a horror romance movie, coincides with the arrival of a new tenant, Keshav (Rajkumar Rao) and his wife, Reema (Amrya Dastur).

Bobby is attracted to Keshav but is also suspicious of him, again dictated by the theme of the movie she is dubbing at the moment. The suspicion gets stronger when she discovers that he is lying to his wife about his smoking and non-vegetarian habits, to the extent that she is convinced that he intends to murder her.

When Reema eventually dies in a mysterious accident, there is nothing that can stop Bobby from believing that Keshav killed her.  The movie thereafter takes the shape of a whodunnit thriller, with the audience left guessing between the illogical Bobby and her gut feeling.

Mental illnesses are like any other – an illness

While the plot is simplistic, what was more complex and impressive about the movie was the characterisation of Bobby and her world.  Maybe this is one of the few times a female protagonist with mental issues is presented on the Indian screen. Even in the past one or two occasions where movies had ventured that, like in Woh Lamhe, again played by Kangana or Pyar Tune Kya Kiya, essayed by Urmila Matondkar, their characterisation was rather unidimensional and defined through the eyes of the male protagonist.  And sadly both these movies ruled out the possibility of any normal life or happy ending for the women.

Judgementall Hai Kya takes an important step in this regard, it treats mental disorder like any other disorder that can be lived with.  It neither passes a moral judgement on its lead character nor glorifies her victimhood.  There was no effort to make Bobby likeable, but her fragile and volatile sanity was portrayed with no frills attached. 

Several times Bobby comes across as a person we would detest associating with in real life.  There are also times when our hearts go out to her, particularly when she struggles to convince the world of her realities and the conflict of internal doubt she suffers in the process. In other words, Bobby is like any of us, with some loveable and some hateful qualities, except that her world is different for us to comprehend, just as our world is different for her to belong.

Female solidarity…and humour too

What was also heartening was the solidarity shown between the female characters in the film. Despite her own internal devils, Bobby is protective of the women around her, Reema and later Megha (cameo role by Amrita Puri), her cousin, both married to Keshav at different points of time. Megha is compassionate towards Bobby, despite the allegations against her husband of murder. She is, however, convinced that he is innocent.  Such depiction of sisterhood is rare in Indian films.

It is interesting how the writer Kanika Dhillon also managed to add a generous dose of humour in the middle of such intense proceedings. It’s not easy to tread the tight rope between a psychological thriller and dark comedy, which the film manages to pull off quite successfully.

The movie does suffer from a few shortcomings such as a contrived second half, a confusing allegory between Ramayan and the current story and an insipid climax.

But on the whole, the movie is a reflective and an entertaining experience. Last but not the least, the two power houses of talent, Kangana and Rajkumar Rao make it immensely watchable.

Picture Credits: Still from the movie Judgementall Hai Kya

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Gnanapriya is a Bangalore based Banker, a passionate feminist with a keen interest in philosophy,

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