Jolly LLB – Film Review
Posted by FATEMA H.KAGALWALA on March 15, 2013 | No Comments
PRODUCER – Fox Star Studios
DIRECTOR – Subhash Kapoor
WRITER – Subhash Kapoor
CAST – Arshad Warsi, Amrita Rao, Boman Irani, Saurabh Shukla, Manoj Pahwa, Mohan Kapoor
MUSIC – Krsna
Our Indian judicial system offers on a ready drama for storytellers to milk. We all know of the sluggish pace of hearings, cronyism that brings stalled and bought justice and rampant corruption that surrounds the legal system. In this reality is our optimistic protagonist Jagdish Tyagi aka Jolly (Arshad Warsi) who jumps in to make a sparkling career for himself as a lawyer.
Jolly is no idealist nor is he a shark. He simply wants the razzamatazz attached to lawyer stardom and moves to Delhi in search of a bigger platform. He finds one such opportunity in a high-profile hit-n-run case that has the grandson of a prominent industrialist in the dock and is being defended by the famous Tejinder Rajpal (Boman Irani). It is the perfect opportunity for Jolly’s rise to fame and he latches onto it. After a ‘not guilty’ verdict, Jolly files a PIL seeking re-investigation, a process that jolts Jolly’s ideas about justice and shifts his own moral compass.
What was meant to be a satire on the judicial system starts off tongue firmly in cheek with quirk and whimsy set in a realistic tone. Nothing is outlandish here, just ticklish and the humour sets off the film on the right foot towards an engaging expose of a very familiar subject. But soon the drama sets in and the film gives itself up to earnestness, letting go of the idiosyncratic humour it so carefully built up in the smallest of its characters. It slowly begins to go downhill from there.
Not only is the tone uneven, the story plays out a tad too easy while moving towards its denouement. Emotional rhetoric substitutes logic and smartness. A total lack of gimmicks is mostly a good thing but some of it here would have uplifted the narrative by several inches. And hence the face-offs between the underdog Jolly and the powerful Rajpal play with lesser force. Rajpal, for all his snarkiness surprisingly is shown to do little then blather and Jolly’s ride to the finale is hinged on few convenient plot twists and predictable conscience tugs. There is even a romantic track between Jolly and Sandhya (Amrita Rao) that initially seems unnecessary but is neatly tied into the film.
Yet, it is the character of Justice Tripathi (Saurabh Shukla) who elevates this rather straightforward and hence boring film and gives it colour. His character is a pragmatist, too experienced with the system, not shy of looking for favours yet sincere to his duty. His idiosyncrasies become delightful breaks and by the end bring out the various shades of his very intuitively written character with force, even tying up the film with the very dubious concept of justice we are forced to live with. Saurabh Shukla plays the harmless and seemingly spineless judge with a superb alacrity, one that even offsets Boman Irani’s blistering arrogant character and Arshad Warsi’s simplistically earnest one, and both of the latter are quite competent as well.
The case in question is modelled on the Delhi BMW case and it is extremely ironic that the film comes soon after a similar hit and run case involving a Bollywood superstar is under trial. It isn’t by chance either that Rajpal mouths certain statements that resound with familiarity. This gives the film a certain immediacy and a sincerity because the heart of the film is in the right place. It gives faces to the downtrodden and canvasses for their justice, speaking their side of the story. However, it does it within a certain limitedness, holding back rather than going out full-fledged. What starts of as satire slowly becomes a story about getting justice for the poor recalling, to its own disadvantage, the still-powerful Damini that did the job so well.
Jolly LLB isn’t a great film, unfortunately not even as smart as Subhash Kapoor’s brilliant debut ‘Phas Gaye Re Obama’. But it is earnest in its tone and bright in its detailing. It just isn’t as sharp and witty as the trailers promised and if one can keep that aside, it can be a jolly good ride!