Jolly LLB isn’t a comedy – despite jokes about ‘appeal’ spelled as ‘apple’ and Jolly telling Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists he’s Maskhar-e-Taiba, Jolly LLB is a serious movie, showcasing the arrogance of the rich, the helplessness of the poor and the corruption of the law.
Jolly (Warsi) is a struggling mofussil lawyer, itching for big-city deals. He convinces girlfriend Sandhya (Rao, attractive and effective in her hot schoolmarm-avataar) and hits Delhi’s District and Sessions Court where his ‘office’ is a desk under the sky. Jolly flounders about until he meets the super-polished, super-successful Tejinder Rajpal (Irani), arguing the ‘victimization’ of his rich client Rahul Dewan, whose Land Cruiser’s run over six labourers on a footpath. An eye-witness appears – Jolly files a PIL. What happens when Rajpal replies using cash?
Rather like its protagonist, Jolly LLB’s first half meanders a bit, featuring a clumsy ‘daaru’ song and a Meerut that mysteriously hides – but boy, does its second half hammer things home. With crackling scenes between Jolly versus Rajpal (Irani deadly smooth, like velvet soaked in blood) and Rajpal versus judge Tripathi (Shukla in a brilliant show, hysterically yelling, “Gavel kidhar rakha hai?!”, thundering at Rajpal, “Sit down! Ye mera court hai, aapka club nahin!”), the action becomes electric. Drama builds as Jolly (Warsi, highly endearing and impressive) finds his voice. Jolly’s astonishment at Rajpal’s callousness – “Footpath sone ke liye nahin hai” – Jolly responding, “Footpath gaadi chalane ke liye bhi nahin hai!“, mirrors the aam aadmi’s bewilderment and determination to fight.
Jolly LLB works because of its bigger point – decency is for all and worth fighting for. Using bittersweet satire and plot twirls, the film shows corruption even used against the corrupt. Despite that weaker first half, this truly becomes a Jolly good show.