Nothing succeeds like success. With the role of Circuit under his belt, Arshad Warsi’s capacity to act isn’t really a question any more. In fact as Munna Bhai’s right hand man, he did more justice to Circuit than Sanjay Dutt did to Munna Bhai. But that was Sanjay Dutt and this is just Arshad Warsi. And that is “Jolly LLB”s only problem – that the lead role is played by the less successful Arshad Warsi. Not that the movie had the capacity to go down the annals of Hindi Cinema as a path breaking comedy or anything of the sort. But with big star names it might have easily touched the coveted 100 cr mark, a flimsy love angle and uncalled for emotionalism notwithstanding.
“Jolly LLB” very convincingly dramatises what is wrong with our lawyers and legal system today- how a degree and profession that had the capacity to be one of the noblest, defending the innocent and upholding the law, has become nothing but a time pass for the unemployed youth and a money making racket in the hands of the powerful, justice be damned. Prosecution is in fact “prostitution” and an appeal is worth as much as an “apple” and a lawyer who doubles up as an astrologer is valued more than “only” lawyers.
Arshad Warsi plays the hapless lawyer Jagdish Tyagi from Meerut who comes to the bad world of Delhi in an attempt to make it big. However his situation doesn’t change much except when he happens to witness the hot shot lawyer Tejinder Rajpal ,played by Boman Irani, defend his obviously guilty client in an incident inspired by the Nanda hit and run case of 1999. Seeing it as an opportunity to strike gold, Jolly files a PIL with no motive other than cheap publicity and some ensuing success. However what he does open up is a can of worms- an unending story of botched up police investigations, the plight of the poor in our country whose death also is an opportunity for the powers that be, money transferring more hands than one can keep track of and the hot shot lawyer extracting money from his clients by all means fair and foul. What Jolly becomes is an unwitting pawn in this game of the rich and the powerful until his conscience, in the form of his girl friend and the silent canteen owner, wakes up and sets him on the right path.
As a hapless wannabe lawyer struggling to make it big, Warsi does full justice to his character bringing forth all the nuances of Jolly- a desire to make it big, a pained frustration behind the cheerful exterior, and once on the fight for truth, a determination to pursue it till the end all odds notwithstanding. If only our industry valued actors more than stars ! Boman Irani as the conniving Tejpal gives the word “dirty lawyer” a totally new meaning. Not only does he manipulate the police and judicial system, he has no qualms whatsoever in doing the same with his clients as well when he feels he has not got his just due. It is however the judge played by Saurabh Shukla who comes as the surprise package. Starting out as a belching, farting obscene judge who apparently coudn’t care less about anything, he comes forth as Justice personified with a no nonsense attitude who however, has no choice but to wait blindly for evidence to come forth. But when evidence does come forth, there is nothing that comes in way of him delivering justice- no hot shot lawyer, no legal system wherein his judgement will be appealed against and possibly over turned by the higher court. That is beyond his control. What in his control, he does that and does it with elan.
“Jolly LLB” is not simply a satirical comedy in the Kafkaesque tradition. It makes you laugh, makes you think but also shows you the way. Quite like Jolly ,even if you set out to do the right thing for the wrong reasons ( filing a PIL for personal aggrandizement and not because justice was denied) but your heart is in the right place, the chances are that you do mend your reasons and also do the right thing. The situation may be dismal, the system may be loaded with flaws and people waiting to manipulate those flaws, but still there is hope- hope in the form of Jolly who decides to fight Tejpal whatever be the cost, Jolly’s cronies who help him including the pitiable body guard he is provided with and the judge himself who shows himself more capable and of more grit than what Tejpal had bargained for. Only if we can look beyond big names and star presence, “Jolly LLB” is a fairly decent entertainment for an evening.