Movie review: Jolly LLB

Poster of Jolly LLB

Jolly LLB

Cast: Arshad Warsi, Boman Irani, Amrita Rao

Direction: Subhash Kapoor

Rating: 4 Star Rating: Recommended 4 Star Rating: Recommended4 Star Rating: Recommended

Jolly good, how Bollywood isn’t afraid to cock a snook anymore. The satire as a genre may not still be an obvious saleable bet but the film industry is quietly acquiring a relish. It took us three decades since Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro to rediscover the satire with films such as Peepli [Live], Phas Gaye Re Obama and last week’s Saare Jahan Se Mehnga. Jolly LLB is a great addition to the list.

Subhash Kapoor shot to fame with his caustic comment on global recession in his last release, Phas Gaye Re Obama. Three years on, his new film is gunning for the legal eagles. Jolly LLB aims at laying bare the foibles that define our judiciary.

At the centre of Kapoor’s screenplay is Jagdish Tyagi (Arshad Warsi), Jolly to friends and near ones. Frustrated that his career as a lawyer seems headed nowhere in smalltown Meerut, Jolly moves to Delhi.

His brainwave for quick fame is inspired by a real-life incident. Revealing shades of the Sanjeev Nanda BMW hit-and-run case of 1999 (which director Kapoor had incidentally covered in his days as a court reporter), the script sees Jolly filing a PIL to reopen the case.

The catch is that he finds himself pitted against advocate Rajpal (Boman Irani), the biggest and craftiest lawyer around. Jolly must fight against all odds if he has to win.

For a satire to work, it needs a solid moral anchor. Jolly LLB finds it in the corruptible courtrooms the film so wittily portrays, as well as in the way its hero has been imagined.

Arshad’s Jolly revels in a tangle of contradictions. He is a good man at heart, fun-loving by nature, and yet the frustration of not achieving what he believes he can is prone to make him bend ethics. Arshad lives his protagonist with trademark comic timing, suitably underplaying hints of melodrama the role calls for. Jolly is a lovable character and Arshad nuances him well.

The film’s underlining comment, though, comes alive as much riding its hero as it does through its antihero. Boman Irani slips brilliantly into the boots of Rajpal. His is the character that drives the film’s message and Boman brings it alive with seasoned assurance, blending smug villainy with humour.

Writer-director Kapoor must have been aware his biggest strength would lie in setting up showdown scenes between Arshad and Boman. The film thrives on their antagonistic chemistry.

Their face-off scenes are superb, propped by effective dialogues. If the right lines are a key to successful satire, Kapoor comes up with some whacky ones here.

The script could have avoided giving the hero a mandatory love angle (Amrita Rao) and two mundane songs. Overall, however, Jolly LLB impresses for the way it avoids all frills while giving you an enjoyable watch. The film is great endorsement for new-age mainstream, along with Kai Po Che, Special 26 and Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster so far this year.

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