Jolly LLB 2 is the kind of movie Hindi cinema used to make at a time when its primary aim was to tell an inspiring tale, using star power to embellish it.
This sequel of Jolly LLB, noticeably superior to the first, brings back the joys of watching a film with a solid plot, a strong sense of time and place and rhythm, and a confidence in itself that has been missing from the Hindi Film Industry. Yes, there a few dips, and some errors, but in general, this Akshay Kumar-starrer is a winner.
There is an actual world outside Bollywood courtrooms where a common man can’t distinguish between a corrupt judicial system and a dishonest police administration. And this world comes charging at you before you can look away. Add a few bullets and some dark humour and you get Jolly LLB 2, the second movie in the Jolly LLB (2013) franchise.
Kanpur’s Jagdishwar Mishra aka Jolly (Akshay Kumar) practices in the “Lucknow high court” and wants to own a chamber. His father has been a stenographer for a top lawyer for years, and that makes Jolly his natural successor. However, this is how he gets treated at work. His boss sends him to buy vegetables and he is also supposed to help arrange a domestic party. He is whatever but a self-respecting lawyer.
He isn’t the only odd character around though. Justice Sunderlal Tripathi (Saurabh Shukla) has undergone a bypass surgery, and he has to dance at his daughter’s marriage. Guess what? He practices his steps inside the court.
Time has hardened Pramod Mathur (Annu Kapoor), Jolly’s archrival and a prolific lawyer in the city. He isn’t afraid of even fighting the judge an interesting departure from the original where nobody dared to insult justice Tripathi at the Delhi high court.
Jolly could have avoided falling prey to such a system, but he has taken the onus of getting the justice delivered in a fake encounter case in which inspector Suryaveer Singh (Kumud Mishra) is the prime suspect.
But you also know that this Jolly will see the path of truth sooner vs later, and set out to slap the bad guys into submission. Not with the kind of kicks and slaps that we’ve got used to from Akshay’s actioners, but the sort of colourful verbal sparring that lawyers engage in, dotted with some hilarious throwaway lines which the star generously shares with his terrific co-stars, especially Saurabh Shukla and Annu Kapoor.
Large scenes of the film remind the spectator of those legal satire shows where the judicial system looks like a big, dark joke. Mostly the joke is on Jolly, and sometimes it’s on us. We somehow know that there’s no escaping the wrath of overworked judges and a broken system. But Jolly needs to find loopholes in the system to keep his hopes afloat.
This is where the screenplay decides to do away with the fantastic research done by the film’s team. It starts to appear like a mix of many movies. If the judge looks inspired from And Justice For All’s John Forsythe, Jolly himself seems to be taking a cue from Arshad Warsi’s much-loved act in the first movie.
Also, the film appears confused between a satire and a thriller. The most effective scenes are cut short to pave way for action scenes. This way the pace is maintained, but the theme is overlooked.
It’s only in the second half that Jolly LLB 2 comes back to a lengthy courtroom battle and gives its actors a chance to rise and shine. Here, Annu Kapoor gives Akshay Kumar a solid run for his money. Over-emphasis on melodrama hampers a well thought-out central idea.
It’s the great support cast of Jolly LLB 2 that sustains the momentum. Saurabh Shukla is remarkably adorable as the tired judge and Huma Qureshi effortlessly fits in the role of a Gucci-loving, wine-swigging housewife. Kumud Mishra as the thoroughly bad cop is a nice change of image for this amiable actor.
The friendly mockery between a Kanpur migrant and a Lucknow lawyer are fun to watch. The difficulties faced by a Delhi judge in Lucknow are tragically funny, especially when lawyers call their friends and local criminals to fist-fight on their behalf, inside the courtroom.
The use of local dialect sometimes looks forced and the movie does away with the innocence of Jolly LLB (2013), in order to become a tearjerker. The strategy doesn’t work.
But what works impeccably is the focus on real issues like corruption, terrorism and under-pressure judges. Kapoor has tackled all these problems with a great control. He has induced small, hilarious moments at crucial junctures that work as perfect breathers. Thanks to his understanding of court procedures, his characters look human and vulnerable unlike usual Bollywood movies where the hero plays the victim and the judge.
Akshay Kumar guarantees that you keep laughing at regular intervals. He makes you remember Warsi, but also adds his touch to Jolly. Overlook some of the negligible flaws, it is a solid entertainer.
Jolly LLB 2 is praiseworthy film with rib-tickling quotient and adorable performances of Akshay Kumar and Saurabh Shukla.