Akshay Kumar plays Jagdishwar Mishra alias Jolly, a Lucknow-based, unscrupulous assistant to Rizvi Sahab, the city's famous lawyer. Desperate to make his mark, Jolly lies (for want of money) to a pregnant prospective client Hina (Sayani Gupta) that Rizvi will take up her case. A resultant suicide hits Jolly like a whiplash, he now tries to vindicate himself.
Familiar Strands, More Ambitious
Just like its predecessor, Jolly LLB 2 sets up a crooked-lawyer-now-standing-up-for-truth premise, gives him an intimidating, seemingly invincible adversary (David vs Goliath in ultra-repeat mode), a rooting lover and an endearing small town judge, makes him fight for victimized clients....
This Subhash Kapoor sequel to his (written and directed) Jolly LLB (2013) takes it notches higher in intent, jumbling and stumbling before finally finding its touch.There are several standalone moments, almost cinematic. The lapses in the plot mitigate impact, but these images stay with us. Jolly LLB 2 is patchy, yet top grade black humour.
That justice delayed is justice denied is no laughing matter. Indian courts are infamous for prolonged cases, witness deaths and occasional sentences. Jolly LLB 2 addresses a pertinent issue. Only Subhash Kapoor doesn't get it as convincingly across like a (similarly social-message-with-entertainment themed) Rajkumar Hirani. Just when it seems to break apart, Kapoor gets us there with two heart-rending monologue moments.
A DICTIONARY BREAK
Monologue: A (usually long) dramatic speech by a single actor
Black Humour: The juxtaposition of morbid and farcical elements (in writing or drama) to give a disturbing effect
Some Astonishing Performances
We usually have so much praise for stars and so less for actors. Sayani Gupta is astonishing and empathy-provoking as Hina. Watch how she cracks apart in that one heartbreaking scene with Kumar. Saurabh Shukla reprises his judge role and adds nuances to the character. It's a memorable, controlled performance.
Kumud Mishra (usually laced with goody, goody roles) as a corrupt cop is a wise choice. Annu Kapoor is very good as the devious lawyer. Huma Qureshi is good in whatever little she gets to do. Akshay Kumar is his competent self, he's fits in the accent and look into the small town ethos. He is as good as Arshad Warsi was in Jolly LLB, if not better. Kumar doesn't put a foot wrong.
The songs add nothing to the story, the background music is good, so is the steady cinematography. Death to lip-syncing songs, unless it is a musical. Certain sections could have done without background music to build impact. But Bollywood goes with overtly emotional high-tuned music so often now. A bad TV serial hangover?
The Saurabh Shukla Moments
i.The judge spellchecking his daughter's wedding card sample in court. 'Goon' to 'Groom', 'Wets' to 'Weds'. Chuckle, chuckle.
ii. A heart patient stubbornly makes his dance moves.
iii. A father squabbles with his daughter over expensive wedding wear.
Yes, because the film strives with sincere intent, despite the hiccups, it comes together for 15 minutes before the end reels. Jolly's final argument, followed by the judge's quiet lament hit the right chords. That is a long duration of engagement for a film to reel us in. These moments salvage the film, take it a cut above average. Jolly LLB 2 is worth watching because its heart is at the right place. Awaiting Subhash Kapoor's next.