Jolly LLB Direction:
Boman Irani, Arshad Warsi, Saurabh ShuklaRating: ***
Jolly LLB is a feel-good satire in the best sense of the term.
It tells the story of a
small-time lawyer, Jagdish Tyagi, better known as Jolly (Arshad Warsi), who dreams of becoming a star litigator.
He moves from Meerut to Delhi chasing this dream and becomes embroiled in a high-profile hit-and-run case where he finds himself up against one of the country's biggest lawyers, Rajpal (Boman Irani).
But Jolly refuses to be intimidated. Instead, he finds his inner hero and proves that, even in the Kafkaesque Indian courts, there is justice.
We know that reality is far more sordid and entangled than this, which is why it is so satisfying to see Jolly succeed on celluloid.
Writer-director Subhash Kapoor tells his story with conviction, skillfully creating a theatre of the absurd.
Thus one lawyer is an astrologer-advocate, the exhausted judge reminds us that there are more than three crore cases pending in the Indian courts, and at one point Rajpal reminds Jolly: "Yeh court hai, Mr Tyagi. Yahan jaldi kuch nahin hota."
Parts of Jolly LLB are laugh-out-loud funny, but underneath the humour is an angry critique of the system, so easily manipulated by the rich and so difficult to penetrate for the poor.
You go in expecting a comedy, but the story takes some unexpected turns and ends in a rousing climax that is moving and inspiring. My trouble with the film was that Jolly's path is almost too easy.
The clumsiest track is his love angle, which forces some unnecessary songs on us. Amrita Rao, playing the girlfriend, stumbles badly in the key scene in which she questions Jolly's motives.
Thankfully, three key actors shoulder the film – Irani, Warsi and the excellent Saurabh Shukla, playing the hapless Judge Tripathi who turns out to be quite different from how he appears.
Despite the uneven writing, Jolly LLB works because it has heart. Make time for it this weekend.
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