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Jolly LLB  : Guilty, My Lord
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Friday, March 15, 2013
Subhash Kapoor
Arshad Warsi, Boman Irani, Amrita Rao, Saurabh Shukla
A two-bit lawyer stands up to the best in the profession to make a life for himself. But he has obviously bitten off more than he can chew.

The plot: Jagdish Tyagi alias Jolly (Arshad Warsi), a down-and-out lawyer in Meerut, moves to Delhi, the ultimate haven for big-time gain. He files a Public Interest Litigation to re-open an accident case that was closed far too hastily by a weak prosecution and policemen on the take. This pitches Jolly directly opposite arrogant legal brain Tejinder Rajpal (Boman Irani), quite the toast of the Delhi courts.

Rajpal uses the dirty tricks department to defend his client with all too pliant policemen ready to botch up their own case. Writer-director Subhash Kapoor takes the oft-repeated route of browbeating, physical beating, witnesses hushed up and evidence suppressed, nothing is a surprise. The victory of the underdog (Jolly) is as predictable as our real courts are whimsical.

The good: There is an attempt to get into the underbelly of session courts with touches of humour and flashes of sentimental dialogues. From the redundant salesmen-like lawyers outside courts to an auction by policemen for a plum posting, realistic situations get a light touch.

The performances are very strong with the cast having both perfect comic timing and effective punch when the going gets heavy towards the climax. Sanjay Mishra (in a cameo as the cop conducting the auction), Boman Irani, Arshad Warsi, Saurabh Shukla (as Justice Tripathi) give weight to the film.

The bad: Firstly, a very stocky, over 40, Arshad Warsi’s romp as hero with a young and fragile Sandhya (Amrita Rao), is both awkward and unnecessary. At one point, he even goes back to Meerut (it’s never explained why) only to burst into another dance sequence with his girl. The court case between musicians for plagiarism falls flat instead of being funny. Considering the serious turn the whole story takes, the B-grade frivolity hits an off-key patch.
Amrita Rao’s track is the staple, goad-him-into-doing-what’s-right appearance, detachable and quite irrelevant to the story.

Subhash Kapoor loses this case for the sheer superficiality in his portrayal of the law courts and the amount of liberties taken in the name of entertainment. Advocates beating up one another like goons, a lady judge texting ‘love you jaanu’ even while she is on the bench, and another judge doing his personal ‘setting’ in an open court, digress too far from reality to ever get back to it. And who is this film for anyway? Those who might like the clumsy lightness won’t sit through the serious case and those who might watch a case unfold, will squirm through the superficiality. Besides, are sessions courts even allowed to hear a PIL in the first place?

An ace senior counsel who appears in the Supreme Court, stooping to badmouth a lawyer and the judge in an open court, is sheer wishful writing as filing a defamation suit would have been his natural option.

The legal case is ultimately, more of a lucky break for Jolly than any cerebral legal thinking, with loopholes all over. If, for instance, big-shot Rajpal indeed wanted clever revenge for a humiliation by a client, how did he know that a PIL would show up?

Overall: More unreal courtroom drama and less legal intellect, the court is adjourned. So please go home.

– Pooja Thakkar

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