There is a real world outside Bollywood courtrooms where a common man can’t differentiate between a corrupt judicial system and a fraudulent 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 film in the Jolly LLB (2013) franchise.
Troubled with such structured corruption, a lawyer, suddenly awakened by his conscience, decides to take on this nexus of police, judiciary and criminals.
Is he right in expecting anything out of this system? His own past isn’t very bright and, on top of that, there’re apprehensions about his wisdom and judicial knowledge.
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. At least, 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 anything 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 wedding. Guess what? He practices his steps inside the court.
Time has hardened Pramod Mathur (Annu Kapoor), Jolly’s nemesis 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 accused.
Large chunks of the film remind the viewer 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 films. 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 film.
Also, the movie 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 ignored.
It’s only in the second half that Jolly LLB 2 comes back to a prolonged 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 terrific support cast of Jolly LLB 2 that sustains the momentum. If Saurabh Shukla is exceptionally adorable as the tired judge, Huma Qureshi perfectly fits in the role of a Gucci-loving, wine-swigging housewife.
The friendly banter between a Kanpur migrant and a Lucknow lawyer are fun to watch. The problems 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 slang sometimes looks forced and the film does away with the innocence of Jolly LLB (2013), in order to become a tearjerker. The ploy doesn’t work.
But what works perfectly is the focus on real issues like corruption, terrorism and under-pressure judges. Kapoor has tackled all these issues with a great control. He has induced small, funny moments at crucial junctures that work as perfect breathers. Thanks to his understanding of court procedures, his characters look human and vulnerable unlike typical Bollywood films where the protagonist plays the victim and the judge.
All is well that ends well. And Akshay Kumar ensures that you keep laughing at regular intervals. He makes you remember Warsi, but also adds his touch to Jolly. Overlook some of the minor flaws and you have a 140-minute solid entertainer on your hands.