'The Judgement' movie review: A standard legal drama that advocates faith in the judiciary

Diganth, often seen in commercial setups, demonstrates his versatility by taking up the role of an innocent victim and portrays it to his best effort.
A still from the film
A still from the film

The Judgement thrusts its viewers in a high-stakes legal battle from the get-go. In the halls of justice, with people in black coats talking legal points, we meet Anil Kumar (Diganth), a young man with a reputation among his friends for his meticulous planning. His life takes a turn when he gets embroiled in a murder case involving a known activist, Roopa (Roopa Rayappa). As Anil finds himself both a witness and accused, the stakes skyrocket in this trial, drawing the attention of political heavyweights, including none other than the Chief Minister. Bhargavi (Lakshmi Gopalaswamy) emerges as the champion of justice for Anil, as she takes his case with determination and grit.

However, Bhargavi does not have it easy as she is up against a charismatic lawyer Govindu (Ravichandran) with political clout, whom the CM himself enlists for high-profile cases such as the one that contributes to the plot. Govindu's flashy courtroom antics are offset by the critiques of his profession by his wife (Meghana Gaonkar), a professor and columnist. The heated debates between lawyers, particularly Bhargavi and Govindu, culminate in the latter’s success in proving Anil guilty and making him serve a 20-year prison sentence. However, there is more to the case than meets the eye.

What ensues is a moderately thrilling event with the odd unexpected twists and turns, involving influential politicians, which echo the current political scenario of Karnataka. This is especially evident when a particular moment arises with a politician hinting at the possession of a pen drive loaded with damning secrets about the opposition party. Beneath its surface lurks a complex network of deceit and suspense. As Govindu reemerges, this time as Anil's defending lawyer, the stage is set for a riveting showdown, as he wins back the trust of Anil's parents and his fiancée (Dhanya Ramkumar), who goes out to save her future life partner. What drives a lawyer, once instrumental in Anil's conviction, to now champion his innocence?

Under Gururaj Kulkarni Nadagoud's direction, The Judgement works around to mirror the legal system's intricacies, pulling back the curtain on lawyers' conduct and exploring the bustling courtroom dynamics, often with a fast-track approach. The film offers a more straightforward narrative, but director Gururaj also makes it interesting with episodes echoing the happenings in Bengaluru, especially the importance of a pen drive, disrupting the government system—a very popular shenanigan in Karnataka politics. Moreover, Gururaj has a good set of actors at his disposal. Though not everything in the script packs a punch, it is a joy to witness Ravichandran with his experience in such a pivotal role. He hits the mark from the word go as a man clad in the black coat who is devoid of the traits of the actor's perfect persona in real life. He seems to comfortably channel the character's traits in line with Gururaj's vision, thus effectively bringing justice to the role.

Diganth, often seen in commercial setups, demonstrates his versatility by taking up the role of an innocent victim and portrays it to his best effort. Lakshmi Gopalaswamy makes a welcome return to cinema with a subtle portrayal of her character as a lawyer, alongside Dhanya Ramkumar and Meghana Gaonkar, who all play integral roles in the plot. Supported by actors like Rangayana Raghu and Sujay Shastry, Roopa Rayyappa stands at the center of the storm, with her murder casting a shadow over the entire narrative. Despite their limited screen time, Krishna Hebbale and Prakash Belawadi play characters with negative shades who resemble corrupt, relatable politicians in real life.

The film is for those seeking a standard legal-suspense thriller. Besides the straightforward direction and decent acting, what brings the audience closer to the courtroom proceedings are PKH Das's cinematography and Anoop Seelin's background score. The film is not without its fair share of loopholes, but clever twists mask them. And even if the overall story that explores the role of faith in the legal system feels somewhat familiar and might divide public opinion, the film does manage to hold the audience's attention.

The Judgement

Director: Gururaj Kulkarni

Cast: Ravichandran, Diganth, Lakshmi Gopalswamy, and Meghana Gaonkar

Rating: 3/5

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