Fox Star Studios Pvt. Ltd.’s Jolly LLB (UA) is a social satire on the legal system in India. Jagdish Tyagi alias Jolly (Arshad Warsi) is a struggling lawyer who dreams of making it big in his profession. But his dreams remain just that. He comes to Delhi from Meerut to try his luck in the capital city of India. Here, he gets involved in a case being fought by one of the most popular and expensive advoca tes of India, Tejinder Rajpal (Boman Irani).
Advocate Rajpal has just managed to get his client, Rahul Deewan (Rajiv Siddharth), out of a hit-and-run case in which people sleeping on the pavement had been crushed to death. Although Rahul was at the wheel of the car which was involved in the accident, advocate Rajpal had used the police to manipulate evidence in such a way that it was proved in court that Rahul Deewan was innocent. While Jolly is overawed by advocate Rajpal’s convincing powers in the courtroom, he also realises that injustice has been done. He files a PIL in the court of judge Sunderlal Tripathi (Saurabh Shukla) and asks for the case to be reopened.
Jolly gets lucky when one Albert Pinto (Harsh Chhaya) approaches him and agrees to testify in court as the sole eye-witness to the road accident. However, he soon realises that Albert Pinto is a paid stooge of advocate Rajpal, who tells him that he would not testify in court on the day of the hearing. He also asks Jolly to withdraw the PIL and, like himself, make money for opting out. Jolly finds the lure of money hard to resist but then decides to go on with the PIL even without an eye-witness.
Does Jolly succeed in nailing Rahul Deewan for the crime? Does he manage to get justice for the poor who were crushed under the car? Or does advocate Rajpal succeed this time too? What was advocate Rajpal’s gain in planting Albert Pinto as an eye-witness and then withdrawing him? What is the stance taken by judge Sunderlal Tripathi in the court?
Writer Subhash Kapoor’s comment on the flawed legal system in India is interesting but is restrictive in appeal because there are technicalities involved. However, more than even the technicalities, it is the single track on which the drama moves and the many English dialogues of advocate Rajpal, which make the film more class-appealing. Why Rajpal has been made to mouth mostly English dialogues is not clear because the purpose could’ve been well served by Hindi dialogues too. Having said this, it must be added that the second half does have heart-warming and emotional moments as also some clapworthy and mass-appealing scenes in the courtroom drama. The scene in which judge Tripathi loses his temper is fantastic. Similarly, the scene in which Jolly makes his final argument is lovely.
The first half moves at a painfully slow pace (much like the courts in India!) with the songs only adding to the boredom. The romantic track between Jolly and Sandhya (Amrita Rao) is half-baked and does not really contribute to increasing the interest level of the viewers. The pace picks up after interval and the second half has some exciting scenes and interesting twists and turns. Considering that the film is basically a courtroom drama, the dialogues (penned by Subhash Kapoor) should’ve been better and far more hard-hitting than they are.
Arshad Warsi does a fair job but does not seem to be in his element. He looks a bit too tired. Amrita Rao gets very limited scope and is okay. Boman Irani plays the character of advocate Tejinder Rajpal with the flourish of a veteran. He is superb and his body language and facial expressions are fantastic, whether in or outside the court. Saurabh Shukla does a tremendous job and will get a lot of praise from the audience. It is a delight to see how his character undergoes transformation as the drama progresses. Mohan Kapur is suitably restrained in the limited scope he gets. Mohan Agashe, as the senior Deewan, is as authoritative as the character needed to be. Harsh Chhaya is effective. Manoj Pahwa hardly has anything to do. Ramesh Deo is alright as Kaul Sahab, the owner of the court canteen. Sanjay Mishra has his entertaining moments. Sandeep Bose does a fine job as corrupt police officer Rathi. Ishtiaq Arif Khan is okay as Vasu, assistant of Jolly. Rajiv Siddharth gets his expressions right in the role of Rahul Deewan. Vibha Chhiber gets limited scope and is alright. Mukund Bhatt, as the bodyguard of Jolly, is natural to the core. Tariq Vasudev (as advocate Rajpal’s assistant) and Neha Gupta (as mother of Rahul Deewan) lend the required support. Vishal Sharma (as the lawyer who sings in the court) and Dutta Sonaware (as the judge in the court) make their presence felt.
Subhash Kapoor’s direction is good. Although his film is a comment on the legal system, his narrative style is such that it remains an entertainer rather than a lecture on the legal system. How one wishes, he had not made Boman Irani’s character mouth so many dialogues in English so that the film would’ve had greater appeal. Krsna’s music is a big letdown. In today’s time, music so lacklustre is quite shocking. None of the songs stays with the audience or even entertains while it is being played out on screen. Lyrics (Subhash Kapoor and Vayu) are okay. Song picturisations (Ravi Botalje and Firoz Naazi) are commonplace. Sanjay Chowdhary’s background music is average. Anshuman Mahaley’s camerawork is good. Parvez Khan’s action scenes are as per the demands of the script. Sets (Shumon Mahapatra) are okay. Sandeep Singh Bajeli’s editing could’ve been sharper. The canvas of the film and the production values deserved to be much better.
On the whole, Jolly LLB has some entertainment value, especially post-interval, but given its dull start on the one hand and the weak first half, it will not be able to make much of a mark at the box-office.