Review Jolly LLB: Film is stodgy and predictable

Jolly LLB

Cast: Arshad Warsi, Boman Irani, Saurabh Shukla, Amrita Rao

Director: Subhash Kapoor

IE Rating: **

Small-town lawyer trying to find his feet and fame and fortune in a big city is what Jolly LLB is about. Subhash Kapoor's previous film, Phans Gaye Re Obama, was about how a supposed dollar-rich NRI is as much recession-hit as his inept kidnappers. Jolly LLB also picks up its story from the headlines: Jagdish Tyagi aka Jolly, lately of Meerut, now in Delhi, finds himself embroiled in a case in which a drunk rich kid runs his car over a bunch of people sleeping on the pavement.

We know that it is a Landcruiser because we hear the word so many times through the film. But it is a clear allusion to the BMW-Sanjiv Nanda case in which a privileged, connected Delhi denizen was convicted and had to serve a jail sentence. Kapoor's film suffers not only because we know the outcome, but also because it takes a bunch of good actors and doesn't make as much of them as it should have.

There are, in all probability, scores of Jagdish Tyagis roaming around Delhi and its nearby towns. Calling your hero Jolly is pure gold, especially when he is played by Arshad Warsi, who looks right at home as an average Joe trying to hack a living. His adversary, the very urbane 'suited-booted' Rajpal (Irani), trumps Jolly in all ways: he is smooth, he speaks flawless English, and he knows his way around the super-rich. Jolly starts off by going with the flow, which includes some lovely, unearned lolly coming his way, before discovering his noble side.

The combination of Warsi and Irani and Saurabh Shukla, who plays the myopic-but-wise lower court judge Tripathi with wonderful world-weary acuity, should have resulted in a cracking courtroom drama. But the film is stodgy and predictable. Warsi never really lifts off the screen despite his playing the poor-but-ultimately-good-man to the hilt (with the exception of a speech or two). Neither does Irani, even though he looks the part. Rao, who plays Warsi's love-interest, is superfluous to the proceedings. The only one who lifts the film and makes it worth our while is Shukla, who has got himself a role worthy of his talent after a long time.

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