The Judgement review: An engaging courtroom drama that needs more finesse

Director Gururaj Kulkarni's film is let down by a stuttered screenplay and an equally dull visual aesthetic.

BySwaroop Kodur

Published:May 24, 2024

A poster of the film The Judgement

The Judgement (Kannada)

24-05-2024, Thriller, 2 hours 31 minutes U/A
  • Main Cast:Ravichandran, Diganth, Dhanya Ramkumar, Lakshmi Gopalaswamy, Naga Bharana, Meghana Gaonkar
  • Director:Gururaj Kulkarni
  • Producer:G9 Communication Media and Entertainment
  • Music Director:Anoop Seelin
  • Cinematography:PKH Das



Director Gururaj Kulkarni’s The Judgement is a film that is true to its title. It follows a seemingly open-and-shut murder case from beginning to end and produces an array of participants.

There’s the victim, there’s the accused, there’s the family of the accused, the defence lawyers, the prosecution, cops, criminals, and the whole gamut that we have grown to identify as part of a film like this.

Very little about this film is unlike what we have encountered in countless other courtroom dramas. But the lure is still hard to resist. The devil, as always, resides in the details and as we see things consistently spiral out of control, the final judgment grows in significance.

The film’s choice of a protagonist, too, isn’t all that surprising.


Gururaj Kulkarni directorial The Judgement

Gururaj Kulkarni’s directorial ‘The Judgement’. (X)

Prosecution lawyer Govind, played by veteran actor V Ravichandran, is a John Grisham-esque powerhouse who is ahead of the game the entire time.

He is so surefooted about what he does that everyone inevitably fears him.

And when the case in question happens to involve a high-profile anti-establishment NGO worker, the chief minister proposes to hire Govind, based on his reputation as this tough-cookie genius.

On the other side exists the defence led by Bhargavi (Lakshmi Gopalaswamy), an equally competent senior lawyer who knows what she is up against.

Her client is the accused—a young man named Anil (Diganth Manchale) caught in the storm of a case that may or may not wreck his life (and his family’s) for good.

At first glance, everything in The Judgement is laid out clearly for us. But as the narrative prods along, we realise there’s a lot more than meets the eye and our protagonist must somehow restore order.

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What works

What works in the film’s favour is writer-director Gururaj Kulkarni’s (also producer) choice to keep the frills away for most parts.

Some of the scenes, such as the song sequence in a pub and an occasional “family” moment, feel rather redundant and threaten to make the narrative more lethargic than it already is, but the film keeps returning to its centre nevertheless.

Keeping the genre conventions intact, the story unfolds almost entirely inside a courtroom and things remain gripping throughout, even urging the audience to get involved in the case riddled with conjectures.

If the first half sets the context and presents us with the nitty-gritty of this convoluted incident, it’s the second half where the film comes into its own.

Gururaj Kulkarni scores well for the amount of research he infuses into his material. Courtroom thrillers often tend to over-sensationalise their plots and restrict themselves to tall monologues.

While The Judgement comes off a tad too technical and verbose for its good, the writer-director’s skill to spring us with one surprise or another keeps us hooked all along.

What doesn’t work

The Judgement is a thriller

‘The Judgement’ is a courtroom drama. (X)

What works against The Judgement is the stuttered screenplay, combined with an equally dull visual palette.

In the case of the former, a better script would have been a lot more economical, ensuring that certain crunch moments in the narrative are fully realised.

Many key junctures in the film take off on a promising note, but they are abruptly nipped in the bud because the writing doesn’t feature the intent that we expect from a gripping courtroom drama.

The distractions add almost no value to the script except that they unduly stretch the runtime.

In the same vein, a more polished and striking visual aesthetic would have elevated the writing to a whole new level and lent the film the atmosphere that it direly needed.

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Crazy Star Ravichandran, as Lawyer Govind, puts his best foot forward and is convincing with his performance. One would have liked the writing to have lent him a better arc though.

Diganth Manchale feels under-utilised and so does the rest of the cast, including Meghana Gaonkar, Dhanya Ramkumar, Rangayana Raghu, Rekha Kudligi, Ravishankar Gowda, Roopa Rayappa, and Balaji Manohar.

Krishna Hebbale in the role of minister Qureshi stands apart from the rest with his portrayal of a cavalier politician.

Final take

Still, The Judgement works for its conviction which cannot be said about many films of late. Give this film a go if you enjoy stories full of intrigue and suspense.

(Views expressed here are personal.)