Jolly LLB

Written & Directed by: Subhash Kapoor
Starring: Arshad Warsi, Amrita Rao, Boman Irani, Saurabh Shukla

After the hugely entertaining and popular movie Phas Gaye re Obama in 2010, writer-director Subhash Kapoor is back with Jolly LLB. The trailers try portraying the movie as a light-hearted take on the Indian judicial system starring Arshad Warsi, Boman Irani, Amrita Rao and Saurabh Shukla in the key roles. The movie pans out in an exactly opposite way: the movie deals with the ineffectiveness and the loopholes of the system with some good courtroom drama and situation comedy peppered in.

The movie is about a hit-and-run case in which a scion of a very rich influential family is the accused case. (The case resembles the the superstar/actor-Salman Khan's hit-and-run trail). He is initially acquitted thanks to the advocating skills of a Senior Advocate Rajpal (Boman Irani). However a junior lawyer Jolly (Arshard Warsi) files a Public interest litigation and reopens the case with the sole motivation of shooting into limelight given the high media frenzy the case has generated. How he undergoes a change of heart and goes on to actually fight the case so that he can get justice for the family of the people killed in the accident forms the crux of the story.

The screenplay hovers between trying to be a thriller and trying to keep people entertained. It does both, however not to the extent one might desire. Direction from Subhash is excellent as he extracts note-worthy performances from the entire cast and crew. Arshad Warsi as the protagonist plays the role exceedingly well. This is one of his better performances (comparable to his performances in movies like Ishqiya and Sehar) and he surely needs to take up more serious work like this. The emotions which a Junior Struggling Lawyer undergoes are displayed exceedingly well through him in the movie. Boman Irani is fantastic; his portrayal as the manipulating senior advocate with abundant knowledge and ideas to take advantage of the loopholes of the judicial system is praise-worthy. Amrita Rao as Jolly's love interest has limited screen time and scope for performance. Saurabh Shukla, as the honest Judge, delivers a superlative performance. The fact that the leads out-perform one another is a credit to the director and the writer for making their roles exceedingly strong. The courtroom scenes are well written; one gets to see the actual happenings in a courtroom in a deglamourised way. It has hardly been presented this well before.

Coming to the music and background score, there are couple of songs which are forcefully added into screenplay. Another one plays in the background. None of the songs give you anything much to write home about. The movie could have been trimmed further. Given the theme, the songs only seem to slow down the proceedings considerably. For me, the main flaw with the movie is that it is surely not an edge-of-the-seat thriller nor does it keep one engrossed and entertained right through. There are some excellent courtroom scenes and couple of genuinely funny sequences (like the constable given to Jolly for protection) but they are very few.

Overall, it's an honest movie with superlative performances from all involved. However, it treads a confused path between trying to be a good courtroom thriller and trying to be funny at times--and does not succeed completely as either of them. It feels a tad long even with just 2+ hours of run time. Wait for it on TV, only for the performances of the cast.