Court room drama has always been a means to make for a dramatic penultimate moment in Hindi films until now. Subhash Kapoor, maker of the critically acclaimed Phas Gaye Re Obama gives court room drama the center stage with his latest satire Jolly LLB. Whether this lighthearted take on the conditions of judicial system and lawyers makes for an enjoyable watch or not, let's find out.
Jolly LLB follows the life of Jagdish Tyagi aka Jolly LLB (Arshad Warsi) a small time lawyer from Meerut. Struggling to make a mark, Jolly leaves his and his love interest Sandhya (Amrita Rao) back in hometown and he moves to the capital Delhi to make it big. But things aren't as rosy or easy as he had thought. In a tearing rush to earn some fame and money, he forces himself into a case by filing a PIL that pits him against one of the biggest and most influential lawyers in the country, Tejinder Rajpal (Boman Irani). How Jolly manages to fight against the devil's advocate who saves his client even after him having mowed down six innocent people on the footpath is what follows through the rest of the plot.
Filmmaker Subhash Kapoor is known for simplistically passing serious messages. He uses satire as a strong tool to convey his point. Even in his critically acclaimed film Phas Gaye Re Obama his approach was similar. With Jolly LLB, he tries to point out the pitiful conditions of Indian Law System and gives uses a very lighthearted approach. However, his treatment this time around fails to please.
It's a different thing taking one's own time to establish the plot and the backdrop and it's totally different to be indulging in unnecessary scenes to make a film more commercial. Subhash Kapoor tries to insert too many commercial elements in the film thus making it a cumbersome watch. The first half unnecessarily has a romantic inclination of the lead protagonist also with the insertions of romantic songs etc. The entire track of Sandhya is basically needless in the otherwise interesting film and in turn causes much of the annoyance.
Subhash also uses ample melodrama in the film to conveniently draw conclusions. The climax especially showcases Subhash clearly resorting to cliched emotional means for dramatic effect.
Where the filmmaker scores is his casting. There couldn't have been a better choice for showcasing to starkly contrasting lawyers than Arshad Warsi and Boman Irani. The two hold their characters brilliantly. Although the cherry on the cake is Saurabh Shukla as the judge. Right from his mannerisms to his dialogue deliver or his appearance, everything is excellent and praiseworthy. Watching veteran actor Ramesh Deo once again on screen after years is a delight. Amrita Rao gets royally wasted.
Even the backdrop is brilliantly captured. Subhash Kapoor keeps the world of judiciary as realistic as possible. The inner sights of the courts, the characterisation of the lawyers, their desperation to bag cases and even the plight of the judges are very realistically depicted without the usual cinematic liberties many filmmakers resort to.
Music by Krsna is uninspiring and totally cacophonous. Even the background score is unimpressive.
To sum it up, Jolly LLB could've been a riotous watch on a serious issue with ample scope for sardonic and witty takes; however, it ends up becoming melodramatic and cliched.