Saturday, March 16, 2013

Jolly LLB 

Laws and Found

Subhash Kapoor has been in the news recently, for being the director picked to direct the third Munnabhai film. His Phas Gaye Re Obama, a small and very funny film reveals a mind that knows its way around the comic terrain. Jolly LLB has traces of that humour, but not the devastating satire the ‘law-is-an-ass’ subject could have had.

It is based on the infamous Sanjeev Nanda case (rich guy mows down half a dozen pavement dwellers), which, along with the Jessica Lal case (rich guy shoots girl) had cause nationwide outrage at the subversion of justice. In India, the general perception is that the law does not work, at least not for the poor.

Kapoor picks as his unlikely hero, an unsuccessful Meerut lawyer Jagdish Tyagi or Jolly (Arshad Warsi), who finds a way of getting into the big league, but taking on the might of celebrity lawyer Tejinder Rajpal (Boman Irani), who has defended the guilty in a hit-and-run case, and got him off, in return for big (and he demands more) money.

Jolly files a public interest litigation to get the case reopened, and then does all he can to find evidence to nail the culprit.  When it comes to his treatment of what goes on in the corridors of power, Kapoor becomes deadly serious, but lacks the sophistication and sharpness of No One Killed Jessica.

The courtroom drama is enlivened considerably by Saurabh Shukla playing the judge, whose comments are funny and to the point. He hijacks the film from under the noses of the two male leads, thundering away with their legal arguments. What also bogs down the otherwise sincere film is the needless romantic track (with Amrita Rao) and the note of preachiness that creeps in, without the emotional core to make it palatable (like the Sunny Deol track in Damini).

Still, idealism in the movies is as welcome as intelligent humour, and when the actors in the ring besides the thoroughly competent Warsi, Irani and Shukla, include Mohan Agashe and Ramesh Deo along with Sanjay Mishra, Mohan Kapoor, Harsh Chhaya, Vibha Chibber and Manoj Pahwa, the film’s asking to be given a viewing. It’s worth the time and money. 


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