When Subhash Kapoor released Jolly LLB in 2013, there were few expectations from the film. It went on to become a sleeper hit on the sheer strength of its writing, treatment and terrific performances. Jolly LLB 2 comes with high expectations. The success of the earlier film and a high profile lead must have put immense pressure on the director to live up to his earlier success.
Subhash Kapoor has not wilted under pressure. He has stripped away the sheen of “star” Akshay to make him an authentic Jagdishwar Mishra aka Jolly. Jolly is a small time lawyer whose primary connection to the legal world is through slaving as an assistant to a big shot lawyer in Lucknow. Though he is treated no better than a petty help by his employer, he knows he is smart and can do better, given the right opportunities. He doesn’t even shy from swindling a prospective client for some badly needed money, though what happens afterwards jolts his conscience and brings out his innate goodness.
Jolly LLB 2 follows the same template as the first film, the attention to details and witty lines makes for an absorbing watch. Typical local mannerisms that you may have witnessed and disregarded without much notice make for a funny watch on the screen. Jolly likes “angrezi” liquor, but doesn’t forget to tie his janeu (sacred thread) around his ears before drinking. The weak grasp of the Queen’s language by the printing guys who misspell groom as goon and so on. Jolly’s wife Pushpa (Huma Qureshi) is no docile homemaker, swigging his whiskey and renting Gucci dresses that he can’t afford to buy. The setting and lingo are all authentic Lucknow. The film changes gears when Jolly tries to expose the corrupt policeman Suryaveer Singh (Kumud Mishra) and takes on the mighty lawyer Sachin Mathur (Annu Kapoor) who is ready to work for anybody who can afford his “rate-chart”.
And then there is Saurabh Shukla who reprises his previous role as Judge Tripathi. He is a jaded judge resigned to a system that is supposed to dole out justice but that is woefully inadequate to meet the need. He, however, has a sense of fairness so strong that he is ready to work through the night to ensure justice is dispensed.
Being a courtroom drama, the film depends highly on smart writing and powerful performances. All the three main characters in the court have done a wonderful job. Akshay is fabulous as a loser lawyer out to make a quick buck and later as a man on a mission. Though the years have crept up on him, his performance does not let age be an impediment. He is no star in the film, just a small town lawyer. Saurabh Shukla is the second pillar of this film. It is difficult to think of anybody else who could have portrayed a jaded, mildly ill judge who has little expectations from the judicial process, yet is immensely likeable. Annu Kapoor completes the third pillar as the unscrupulous lawyer who doesn’t hesitate to pull his own ailing father to court if it helps him win.
The film falters when it stretches to incredulity. The part where Jolly goes to Kashmir and gets in gunfight is rather filmy. So is the scene where lawyer Mathur sits on Dharna in the courtroom. The end is over-stretched and the climax less than convincing.
Despite some shortcomings, the film is entertaining for the most part. Subhash Kapoor should be patted on the back for having retained the spirit of Jolly LLB even though the canvas for this film changed considerably. Well done Mr. Kapoor.
Rating : 3/5
Starring: Akshay Kumar, Huma Qureshi, Saurabh Shukla, Annu Kapoor, Kumud Mishra
Director: Subhash Kapoor