“When can I go out and have some popcorn? How long will this sequence last?”
These were my thoughts as I sat through the two-hour duration of Kangana Ranaut and Rajkummar Rao’s Judgementall Hai Kya. I checked my watch thrice. Why didn’t I walk out of the theater, you ask? Well, it was no Kalank or Bharat. Kangana and Rajkummar’s performance is spot on. Prakash Kovelamudi’s direction and Pankaj Kumar’s cinematography are the icing on the cake. Then why was it difficult to sit through the entire duration of the movie? Because it suffers from being too long.
Judgementall Hai Kya is an outcome of some great craft and it’s not my space to advise a filmmaker on what to do and what not to. But as a member of the audience, I feel an hour less of it would have worked wonders. There are times when the duration of a movie is justified as it requires time to establish its characters and engage people in its plot, say, for instance, Ramesh Sippy’s Sholay (1975) or Ashutosh Gowariker’s Lagaan (2001). But with Judgementall Hai Kya, it gets tedious to watch writer Kanika Dhillon’s attempt at making viewers accustomed to crazy Bobby Grewal Batliwala (Ranaut) for an entire hour before the interval.
In the opening scene, we get to see Bobby’s traumatic childhood and her mother being abused by her father which later becomes the reason for her trust issues with men and a protective behaviour towards women. Then those images of cockroach which are a result of Kangana’s acute psychosis, her preference of staying at an asylum instead of paying fine, her making origami out of newspaper reports of murder, extortion, rapes and domestic violence, all establish her as one of a kind in the first 20 minutes. Through Bobby, we are introduced to Keshav (Rao) as well.
The remaining time is spent in presenting the lead characters as edgy and you feel, “Wait, why am I watching this again?” After the interval, the plot moves to London where Bobby is roped in for a stage adaptation of Ramayana. Agreed, a pinch of mythology and literature add layers to a thriller but Dhillon and Kovelamudi could have easily snipped off an hour from this movie by cutting back on the stretched theater sequences and repetitive portrayal of Bobby’s character traits.
For me, Judgementall Hai Kya would have made more sense as a short film with the climax coming sooner since even in the full-length feature film, the end was predictable minutes before it happened on screen. As much as I enjoyed watching Kangana and Rajkummar at their best, 2 hours was more than enough time to understand Bobby.