I was in Mumbai with a producer friend of mine from the Punjabi music industry on the day JOLLY LLB got released in 2013. And when I woke up early to catch a morning show of the film, my friend was not amused and tried to stop me from going, expecting nothing from such lesser known and non-starcast film as usual. On my return back to the room, I told him that this is going to be a sleeper Hit. He wasn’t convinced at all and started smiling, to which I offered anything for a bet and eventually won the contest after a few days when the film found a universal appreciation all over, later winning a much reputed National Award too along with a decent box office success.
The original JOLLY LLB (inspired from a real life incident) actually achieved that cult status as it was confidently written (thriller and not a comedy) without any obligations to satisfy the big image of an established star and because every single actor in its cast (led by Arshad, Boman and Saurabh) impressively tried their best to contribute in a potential script that really had got everything to please and entertain the enthusiastic Hindi film audience.
However when the same writer-director takes up the task of making a sequel of such sleeper hit, now revolving around a STAR (Akshay Kumar) instead of one of the most underrated actors of the present era (Arshad Warsi), with the only motive of entertaining the viewers through some timely cracked jokes, clap-worthy dialogues and an over the top portrayal of the court involving the judge too, then the product certainly has to suffer and doesn’t turn out to be a superior sequel for sure due to the same reasons.
Beginning with a morally questionable scene showcasing mass copying in school exams facilitated by the lawyer hero Akshay Kumar, the film does manage to raise laughter within the opening five minutes itself and then keeps walking on the same path with more hilarious scenes in the court premises like a typical comedy film. Later it again successfully wins over the viewer introducing its two key characters namely Anu Kapoor as the rival lawyer and Saurabh Shukla as the only continuing actor playing the same role of a funny judge as seen in the original.
Focusing on an unfortunate suicide of a pregnant widow fighting for justice as the basis of its entire script, the sequel has some hurriedly incorporated emotional scenes too along with an unwanted Holi song in the first half. And therefore turns out to be just an average routine entertainer till the intermission having nothing much to say falling way short of the original in terms of expectations.
Thankfully the narration picks up fast post another short (unrequired) song in the second half and then completely focuses on the engaging court proceedings till the prolonged climax, eventually providing enough entertaining confrontations scenes and dialogues to the audience largely compensating them for their time and money spent on the costly multiplex tickets.
However in the process, this time writer-director Subhash Kapoor tries to address too many social issues in his casually written script in comparison to the much superior and solid writing of the original. Where at one end he tries to portray over-delayed justice in the courts, misguiding lawyers, corruption in Police department and fake encounters by the officers killing the innocent citizens, on the other he forcibly also brings in Kashmir, false arrests of young Muslims made in the region and deliberately goes on adding “patriotic” debates towards the end too resulting in some kind of disjointed mix.
Surprisingly despite being a court room drama, there are no exciting investigations or any shocking twists and turns missing the much required element of the particular genre. And all witnesses are easily brought in by the hero lawyer by just visiting another state without any trouble as such. Moreover the whole case ends when suddenly a new character gets presented in the court (out of nowhere) who was rarely shown or talked about in the entire film (which in reality remains the most avoidable feature of a crime-mystery-courtroom novel or movie to be exact).
Besides there are a lot of squeezed in scenes too, just added for either making the viewer laugh or satisfy the corporate sponsors in a cheap avoidable manner. For instance, showing the lawyer’s wife drinking whisky with him has no significance in the film (in fact the wife character only has nothing to say at all). Plus Akshay taking off the shirt to dive into the Holy Ganga, showing a ‘Dollar Big Boss’ baniyaan doesn’t look like done in any good taste.
In the performance department, Akshay does it well but there is nothing extraordinary in his act throughout the two different halves. Playing a light hearted comic lawyer in the first, he turns into a serious Rustom kind of lawyer in the second offering just a routine performance. Anu Kapoor also keeps trying too hard playing a shrewd, cunning lawyer intentionally playing to the gallery (making you strongly miss the incomparable Boman Irani). And I couldn’t find any reason why Huma Qureshi signed the film other than being a big banner’s ‘expected hit’ featuring Akshay Kumar.
Coming to the man who truly contributes the most in JOLLY LLB 2 is Saurabh Shukla, who once again is an absolute delight to watch as the funny judge, though the writer-director repeatedly crosses the line disrespecting the court and its decorum in an otherwise engaging second half. (In fact that was the reason they were forced to cut some scenes, like the one wherein Akshay literally jumps up to the judge’s podium shown in the promoted trailers).
The talented supporting cast is another worth mentioning reason behind its major entertaining sequences and for this Kumud Mishra (as the corrupt police officer), Rajiv Gupta (as Akshay’s assistant), Manav Kaul (as the wrongly framed man), Sayani Gupta (as the pregnant widow) and Inaamulhaq (as the terrorist) rightly deserve their due praises, except Sanjay Mishra, who strangely remains wasted in just a one scene cameo.
Summing up, JOLLY LLB is not any smartly written or a surprising court room drama on the lines of its much superior original. It’s a typical Hindi film featuring a known star banking on the borrowed characters, prominently dealing in jokes and some well written dialogues much more than any solid story progression. Further it mocks the court and the chair of honourable judge too in a highly shameless manner crossing the limit of respect and dignity unlike its gracefully original. And therefore fails to prove any better sequel as usual like in many recent cases.
Yet, it still deserves to be rated as an above average, one time entertaining watch due to its much better second half in particular. However the way Arshal Warsi looked, performed and entertained us all playing the original Jolly, was miles ahead than this ‘Star-studded half-heartedly written sequel’ without any slightest of doubt.
Rating : 2.5 + 0.5 / 5 (with the additional 0.5 just for Saurabh Shukla)