Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

March 15, 2013

Courtside view

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 10:44 pm

March 15, 2013

Cast: Arshad Warsi, Boman Irani, Amrita Rao, Ramesh Deo, Manoj Pahwa, Mohan Kapur, Mohan Agashe

Director: Subhash Kapoor

When a rich Delhi kid, accused of mowing down six pavement dwellers with his speeding car, is let off for lack of evidence, a small-time lawyer spots an opportunity and gets the case reopened.

Well-intentioned but inconsistent, Jolly LLB, directed by Subhash Kapoor, blends elements of a satire, a thriller, and a courtroom procedural in this intriguing story inspired by the events of the Sanjeev Nanda hit-and-run case of 1999. Kapoor makes some relevant points about society’s apathy towards the poor, the loopholes in our judicial system, and the ease with which the rich often manipulate the truth. But he adopts an over-simplistic approach to the material that is often in conflict with this otherwise promising film.

Meerut-bred Jagdish Tyagi, or Jolly (Arshad Warsi), is only seeking some publicity when he stands up against legal heavyweight Tejinder Rajpal (Boman Irani) who is defending the accused. But his conscience is stirred by his fiancée (Amrita Rao), who eggs him on to fight for the truth. Rajpal, whose defense is built around a bunch of lies and a botched-up police investigation, resorts to everything from bribery to physical assault to scare off Jolly from pursuing the case.

Positioned as a David vs Goliath clash, the film benefits from some fiery courtroom exchanges between its two leads and Saurabh Shukla playing the seasoned judge. Director Subhash Kapoor tackles these scenes with just the right balance of humor and histrionics, but gets carried away by his tendency to pack in too much all at once. So the screenplay is overstuffed with unnecessary songs, a predictable scuffle in the court washroom, and an overlong satirical sequence in which a corrupt cop (Sanjay Mishra) openly auctions off a promotion in the police department to the highest bidder amongst a fleet of dishonorable officers.

There are many emotional moments in the film, but Kapoor occasionally teeters towards melodrama, wringing the ‘feeling’ right out of you. While a scene in which Jolly witnesses the plight of pavement dwellers first-hand is genuinely moving, other bits feel contrived and ring untrue. When the aged spindly bodyguard assigned to Jolly mans up in the hour of need, it’s as if a lump was squeezed out of your throat! And predictably the manager of the court canteen (Ramesh Deo) who clears up a corner in his premises for Jolly to work out of becomes the catalyst for his awakening.

If the film isn’t derailed despite these hiccups, it’s largely on account of the three central performances that are easily its biggest strength. Arshad Warsi brings layers to Jolly, revealing a simmering frustration beneath that cheery exterior. Boman Irani is terrific as the smug Rajpal, permanently texting on his Blackberry, and very comfortable in the dread he inspires. But the surprise packet is Saurabh Shukla who doesn’t once strike a wrong note as the wise ol’ judge dutifully witnessing the circus before him each day, only losing his temper when he’s mistaken for a fool. Shukla turns even the seemingly innocuous act of eating lunch into a riveting performance.

Its heart unquestionably in the right place, Jolly LLB is very watchable, even if it does paint in broad strokes. I’m going with two-and-a-half out of five. Not a bad way to spend an evening.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)


  1. Grow up dude! Your review at 2 1/2 stars? Coz this was a brilliant performance by Arshad Warsi? Go and dole out scores to Salman Khans’s stupidity and Shahrukh Khan’s trashes.

    Comment by Pratik — March 16, 2013 @ 3:51 am

  2. Thanks for spoiling some scenes from the movie. You always do that and I guess you would continue doing it. Keep it up.

    Comment by Gopal — March 16, 2013 @ 5:29 pm

  3. After such a good review you end it up with 2.5, intriguing.

    Comment by Satya — March 16, 2013 @ 6:40 pm

  4. U r the best in the business rajeev

    Comment by ksnsimha — March 16, 2013 @ 7:25 pm

  5. oh please !! y don’t u make a movie on ur own ?? and then we will see how many oscars will u get!!

    Comment by saurabh jain — March 16, 2013 @ 9:29 pm

  6. I am one of your dedicated followers but I have to say you got it a bit wrong this this timee as yu got it wrong for the expandables. Hands down, best movie in 2013 yet, definitely deserves a three.

    Comment by Vishesh Taneja — March 17, 2013 @ 4:43 pm

  7. its a nice movie.dont see the rating.just go & watch the movie.its a intertaining movie.

    Comment by rohit — March 17, 2013 @ 11:03 pm

  8. I like ur reviews, been following since years. Couldnt resist myself from posting this time, Sir, can you pls tell me why a 2 n a half star if Jolly LLB is heart unquestionably in the right place and is very watchable? too contradicting!

    Comment by Eshan — March 18, 2013 @ 5:17 am

  9. The witty dialogues in the movie require special mention. The movie shows the true picture of Indian courtroom unlike all other bollywood movies. Very enjoyable movie and definitely worth 3 stars!

    Comment by RajeevMasandFan — March 20, 2013 @ 12:16 pm

  10. Rating is perfect, accolades from Rajeev Sir fall perfect for scenes and characters. I feel satirical movies shouldn’t contain such shabby song breaks. One time watch.

    Comment by Shankz — March 23, 2013 @ 12:34 am

  11. Overall a very promising movie.. held together by the strong performances of Arshad, Shukla and Boman. The songs and some of the parody scenes are totally irrelevant. 2.5 is harsh but fair enough.

    Comment by Ranjit — April 12, 2013 @ 9:37 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress