What is it all about
Bollywood moves to court in an attempt to make some funny and serious notes... well Adalat, Kanoon and courtroom have been an integral part of Bollywood melodramas since ages masterpieces like Raj Kapor's 'Awara' (1951), B.R. Chopra's Kanoon (1960) to Raj Kumar Gupta's 'No One Killed Jessica'(2011), and Santoshi's action packed Raj Kumar Santoshi's 'Damini(1993)which ironically has made Sunny Deol carry that 2 and a half kilo ka haath even in its 20th anniversary of the film which falls on 30th of April..
Undeniably the idea of a satire on the legal system is a powerful dynamite which has all the potential to explore many aspects related to it and with all fairness to Subhash Kapoor the director of the critically acclaimed 'Phas Gaye Re Obama 'along with Fox Star Studios surely had this in their mind and heart but somehow 'Jolly LLB' ends up as an attempt to alternate between comedy and drama, handling neither one incompetently, but also not excelling at either while the performances of the actors are dominant throughout.
Happy but not lucky lawyer Jolly (Arshad Warsi) practices in small town Meerut not much far away from the capital Delhi.. seeing nothing happening Jolly moves to Delhi to find himself in a much bigger crowd of jobless lawyers. One fine day circumstances make him stand against the city's top lawyer Advocate Rajpal (Boman Irani) in a PIL against the popular hit and run case involving the city's top businessman's grandson.
Unlike 'No One Killed Jessica' Subhash Kapoor as a writer only takes a leaf of a high profile case of Sanjeev Nanda grandson of ex Naval Admiral, arms dealer S.M. Nanda in January 1999 convicted for running over and killing six people, including three policemen. Subhash twists it for his comment on the legal system and ends it on a serious note with an uplifting engrossing climax.
What to look out for
Subhash successfully establishes the small town environment and the lead characters for the audience connect. Humour has come well in some places especially the terrorist parade scene, the first court room scene, scenes involving Saurabh Shukla who plays the judge.. the narration is smooth and flowing having a perfect interval point for a mainstream entertainer. The climax is the major highlight which underlines the seriousness.
Technicalities are in sync cinematography by Anshuman Mahaley is fine. Editor Sandeep Singh Bajeli editing is noteworthy especially at the start of the film which is in total contrast of the mood of the film.
Sanjoy Chowdhury background sets the mood.
Joly LLB scores high points in its acting department.
Arshad Warsi is a delight to watch and entertains well.. After Munnabhai this will be considered his best.
Amrita Rao doesn,t gets much to do but she is fine in whatever scope she gets..
Saurabh Shukla is amazing as the Judge. Highly entertaining.
Harsh Chhaya, Mohan Kapoor, Manoj Pahwa, Mohan Agashe provide able support.
Last but not the least.. Boman Irani.. this gifted talent is just brilliant. He uses the character as his prop to deliver a superlative portrayal on screen. His performance makes you think like getting into the skin of the character is so easy for such actors. Excellent.
After so much promise with 'Phas Gaye Re Obama' it seems like director Subhash has not taken the writer Subhash seriously for innovations. The subject was terrific and we expected more fireworks. Jolly LLB initially gives an impression that a cinematic critique of the legal system will stand up in this comedy which will have its point of view but alas somehow Subhash Kapoor can't find the right balance between the drama and the comedy..
Maybe the push and pull of cinema art and B.O. requirements responsible for Subhash micro approach as a filmmaker where he finds himself guilty of giving justice to the plot but not caring much for the subject.
Conclusion: All well that's ends well. Ordered by wit, drama and top performances Jolly LLB ends as a decent entertainer thanks to its climax which saves the film. Looking for some massage of funny bones in a courtroom with some whispering message this weekend.. go for it.
Rating ***and 1/2