REVIEW: ‘Jolly LLB’ – This Courtroom Lacks Fire And Sparkle

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Subhash Kapoor, whose debut film ‘Phas Gaye Re Obama’, was an enjoyable and under-rated satire, turns his pen to the issue of the legal system, lawyers and corruption in this Arshad Warsi, Boman Irani, Amrita Rao starrer.

Jagdish Tyagi (Arshad Warsi) or Jolly is a lawyer from Meerut. Armed with a LLB degree, this small town advocate with big city dreams heads to Delhi and sets up shop outside a small court. Here he fights petty cases just hoping to make ends meet. One day a news report about the verdict in a high profile hit and run case gets him thinking and Jolly files a PIL to reopen investigations. In doing so, he challenges Tejinder Rajpal (Boman Irani), one of the most cut-throat, unscrupulous and successful lawyers in the country.

At interval point, Kapoor leaves you with a tantalizing twist, but it’s one that he just does not deliver on the promise of. The courtroom drama, that dominates the second half, lacks fire and sparkling dialogue.

Instead the writer-director leans heavily on clichés, manipulation and convenient plot points to deliver his message. And yes, there is a message – that the marginalized are deprived of fair justice, that pavements may not be meant for sleeping but nor are they meant for cars to drive on and that good will triumph over evil.

Its performances by Warsi, Irani and Saurabh Shukla as presiding judge Tripathi that elevate the film beyond its simplistic writing. But it’s Shukla who is magic in his scenes adding a much needed dose of entertainment and nuance to an otherwise unsubtle script. Amrita Rao, as Jolly’s love interest, performs at a totally different (and disturbing) pitch to all the other actors. Warsi gets a role he can sink his teeth into and he doesn’t let go of his bite. Boman Irani appears to be relishing the part of the arrogant lawyer. Sanjay Mishra is bang-on in his one scene as a cop, although the scene (emphasizing corruption in the police force) itself is superfluous.

But performances are not enough to bind the film which is further hampered by –sub-par production design and the inclusion of jarring songs which are completely out of place. The promos and trailer suggested a comic-satire. The film is neither, which is perhaps why one feels dissatisfaction.

Rating: **