The archetypal underdog is a subject which has seen various glorious enactments on the big screen and is a story which resonates with the masses who tend to rally behind our lead against his nemesis. From Sanju in Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander to Iqbal from the eponymous movie, the underdog has always received affection from the hoi polloi, even if he gets pushed around for half the movie. Bollywood loves the underdog story and when we have a courtroom as a background and the antics of a very likable actor to boot, it becomes a recipe for a hit. We are of course talking about Arshad Warsi and the surprisingly entertaining Jolly LLB which released in 2013. Because without that movie, we cannot have the money spinning Jolly LLB 2 which has swept the box office in the last few days. Both Arshad Warsi and his character Jolly were very synonymous in their appeal to the audience. Honest, talented, yet waiting in the wings forever, the movie could not have cast a better Jolly. Arshad has never got his dues in Bollywood, playing supporting characters and working in movies which frankly made us cringe at the utter waste of talent, he is the underdog, so to say, among the high flying superstars in the industry.
Circa 2017, we have a high profile A-lister in Akshay Kumar taking the mantle of Jolly LLB in a scaled up version of the original court room comedy drama. Director Subhash Kapoor has made a name for himself as a satirist in the Bollywood circuit with acclaimed movies like Phas Gaya Re Obama and the two Jolly LLB movies. The director’s adroitness is visible in his sparse yet measured use of humour to transpose between drama and comedy. This movie embosses Subhash Kapoor as a satirist of the top drawer and his commentary on the political and judiciary system in India can be read between the humorous lines in all his movies.
Jolly LLB 2 takes after the original in both its treatment and characters. Jagdishwar Mishra, Jolly (Akshay Kumar) is a down on his luck, street smart advocate who dreams of having a chamber of his own and make it big in his profession. He is shown to be of wavering conscience as he engages in fraudulent activities to make ends meet and to cater to the whims of his wife (played by Huma Qureshi). There is no purpose to his practice, until one day when he dupes a widow of some money and is shamed by her, his father and his mentor for stooping so low. The accompanying self realization and guilt puts our protagonist in the middle of an assortment of killer cops, a luminary yet scheming senior advocate and a case of fake encounter. The movie becomes a well fleshed out court room drama thereafter, with a loquacious advocate Pramod Mathur (Annu Kapoor) defending Inspector Suryaveer Singh (the brilliant Kumud Mishra) in the fake encounter case. Heavy exchanges and twists make up most of the second half as Justice Sunderlal Tripathy listens to the questioning and counter-questioning to arrive at a verdict.
The movie has almost the same template as it’s predecessor, so much so that a sense of déjà vu pervades when the senior advocate denigrates Jolly or a surprise witness walks in during the climax. Yet, this is a commendable job by director Kapoor considering the subject matter in hand and the sheer engagement with the audience throughout the film. Kapoor seems to understand Courtrooms well. The congested feeling, the files which perennially remain untouched and the hordes of advocates trying to arm twist the judiciary, almost everything has been covered beautifully in this movie. Over dramatization aside, the director keeps us invested with characters and dialogues even if the story has few loopholes and a few unnecessary diversions which aren’t resolved satisfactorily. The character of Huma Qureshi and Kumud Mishra were the biggest disappointments. Huma is Pushpa who plays second fiddle to her enterprising husband. Kumud Mishra shines in the short screen time and dialogues that he gets and one cannot but feel that a more fleshed out Inspector Suryaveer Singh could have added to the audience rooting for Jolly. Annu Kapoor is fun as the senior advocate for whom facts and truth depends on the flow of money and he is one who will employ every trick in his trade to defend his client.
Jolly LLB 2 is a fun watch and is this year’s first critically acclaimed superhit. The movie is proof that a good script and engaging characters can pull the audience to the theatres en masse. Akshay Kumar proves again why he is the star Indians should be going gaga over, compared to a few others who are pass their prime. He plays the goofy and the honest with equal conviction and makes Jolly a character we can root for. We absolutely adored Arshad Warsi in the original, but if Akshay has to carry this franchise forward, we can safely assume that Jolly, the goofy advocate next door, is in safe hands.
Gobblpoint— Akshay Kumar gets into the huge shoes of Jolly vacated by Arshad Warsi and does a good job. The movie is similar in content to it’s predecessor, but this is a decent stand alone product in itself. Go watch it for Saurabh Shukla’s hilarious Judge act and the verbal dual between Annu Kapoor and Akshay’s character.
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