Kumar is the heart of this piece, a poker player trying hard not to show his hand when the other guys’ seemingly got all the cards.
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Saurabh Shukla, Annu Kapoor, Huma Qureshi, Ram Gopal Bajaj
Director: Subhash Kapoor
The new courtroom drama Jolly LL.B 2 skillfully shows off the talents of both, its director story/scriptwriter Subhash Kapoor and its star Akshay Kumar. It’s refreshing to watch a single-genre film where the entire supporting cast too, excels. It’s a rare film, which brims with authentic details, zippy dialogue and colourful performances from even the smallest players. In fact, as a sequel, Jolly LL.B 2 is smarter than the earlier Jolly LL.B, with not much time wasted on inconsequential details.
The story may not be anything new, but, yes, there is a definite plot here. Small-time lawyer Jagdishwar Mishra alias Jolly (Askhay Kumar) doesn’t seem to ever grow out of the shadows and apprenticeship of veteran advocate Rizvi (Ram Gopal Bajaj), only because he doesn’t seem to have neither the legalese nor the right proficiencies to rise above mediocrity. Rizvi too merely thinks of him as his former munshi’s son who would have to first unlearn the brusqueness of “Kanpuriya” and learn “Lucknawi tehzeeb”. Jolly has short-sighted plans and fools around most of the time only to be ridiculed by his wife Pushpa (Huma Qureshi) about making it big someday. Of course, his whisky guzzling spouse — for whom he makes fresh chapatis after a hard day’s drudgery in the court — dozes off whenever he dreams of proving his worth to the entire city of Lucknow, and half-playfully, half-seriously pipedreams of an imaginary world where she would flaunt her “Gucci” collection. He would have plodded along his life had a hapless widow petitioner Hina Siddiqui (Sayani Gupta) not showed up repeatedly at his office, and pleaded him to request his boss Rizvi to defend her dead husband Iqbal Qasim’s (Manav Kaul) case when he was bumped off in a fake encounter by the corrupt cop (Kumud Mishra).
For Jolly, this is an opportunity knocking on his door, and after colluding with his fellow lawyer friend (Rajiv Gupta), he plots to have his way and earn mega bucks. While doing so, he ensnares none other than the ill-fated Siddiqui to shell out a hefty amount, to help him start independent practice. Obviously, he is unqualified to get her justice, and his operations cannot be patch on the unethical cops, who have one of the city’s most sought-after conniving and powerful lawyer, Sachin KantiLal Mathur (Annu Kapoor) in a conspiratorial strategy to get away with murder literally. As luck would have it, he loses the case making Hina not only lose hope, but her life too. It’s then that the otherwise clumsy Jolly begins to look within the moral conscience that has so far differentiated him from his honest moralistic father (V.M. Badola), and he decides to investigate into the case to unearth facts about.
Revealing more of the plot could ruin some of the story’s strong-on-performances account in a ride you want to take on your own. Suffice it to say that the pacing gradually accelerates after a build-up in the first act, and easily sustains interest, stirs emotions throughout pre-trial preparations and extended courtroom scenes.
For those of us, who have studied law, or have ever been inside the courtroom, or even have a foggy inkling of law and its enactment would vouch for Bollywood films’ repeated offence of ridiculing the overall justice system in scripts that often bordered on the ludicrous. One also knows that law in theory is almost adversarial in practice. While the major portions in the courtroom satirise the notion of the Indian legal system, the sparring between Jolly and Mathur has been designed engagingly with cleverly brainy lines thrown in good measure to raise enough laughs.
For once, the story focuses on Jolly’s fights against the ruthless Mathur. Barring an unnecessary twist towards the end, the narrative remains loyal as a fast-paced and smart legal thriller that will keep audiences involved. Things get a bit silly at the end — why do we always fall for it? — but by then, one is too engrossed in the court proceedings to bother.
The supporting cast — Bajaj, Kaul, Shukla, Mishra, Avijit Dutt lend the film its credibility. As a crooked defence counsel, Kapoor treats the accusations against his client like a fly that needs to be swatted and lives every twitch of his character that he executes. Though Kumar’s inept blundering act inexplicably transforms into a smooth-talking criminal defence trial lawyer that’s as slick as a politician and as deliberate as an assassin, full marks to him for not trying to hog every frame, and allowing veteran actors like Shukla and Kapoor abundant screen time. Their courtroom scenes crackle as both actors’ theatre training is put to good use in their give-and-take squabble in court. But Kumar is the heart of this piece, a poker player trying hard not to show his hand when the other guys’ seemingly got all the cards.
Even if the plot was spoiled here, Jolly LL.B 2 would be a must-watch!
The writer is a film critic and has been reviewing films for over 15 years. He also writes on music, art and culture, and other human interest stories.