Jolly LLB 2: Not so Jolly after-all

Film: Jolly LLB 2

Cast:  Akshay Kumar, Annu Kapoor, Saurabh Shukla, Huma Quereshi, Manav Kaul, Inaamulhaq, Nikhil Dwivedi, Sayani Gupta, Arshad Warsi, Subhangi Latkar

Director: Subhash Kapoor

Jolly LL.B 2 is an attempt at satirical black comedy-drama, written and directed by Subhash Kapoor as a sequel to his well received and critically appreciated 2013 debut film Jolly LLB. The Jolly in the title has a new face and it’s that of Box-office magnet Akshay Kumar who essays the role of a crafty small town lawyer with questionable principles, Jagdishwar Mishra aka Jolly, who takes on a murder case by default and finds his client to be a victim of an elaborate cover-up by the powers that be.

Not to be outsmarted our Jolly has plenty of tricks up his sleeve and uses them in and out of the courtroom in order to prove his client not guilty. The system of course is displayed as faulty and given the controversy regarding the depiction of courtroom theatrics, it’s quite obvious why the legal eagles were up in arms against the film-even though some of the scenes were deleted from the film as instructed by the court.

The narrative meanders along for most of its run time and the fair amount of courtroom drama with Jolly the underdog sparring legalities with Goliath of the court-the unctuous, highly-successful legal luminary Pramod Mathur (Annu Kapoor), feels a little too beleaguered and frayed around the edges. Saurabh Shukla gets back into Judges, robes as Justice Tripathi the presiding Judge and makes a meal of it once again.  All those elements involving incidents garnered from newspaper headlines (terrorism and fake encounters being the most tiresome and done to death ones) seem to have been added on for shock effect but they have little purchase. And some of the humour is quite unrelated to the main story itself.

The pacing is without any consistent rhythm and the thrill elements don’t quite hit the high notes so there’s much more to carp about here. The legal aspects are not without grit but even that goes for a toss when Mr Kumar gets away with high theatre in place of sharp one-upmanship. The comedic elements are justifiably low key so though the humour is minimal, it’s not obnoxious or unpleasant.

The mystery is of course a little too convoluted and quite hare-brained to be completely justifiable. Akshay Kumar is efficient enough while Annu Kapoor’s decided flamboyance makes it all seem like much more of a challenge that it really is. His face-offs with Saurabh Shukla though are the most effective segments in the film.  Huma Quereshi has little to do other than look like a bad copy of Esha Gupta (from Rustom)…and I am stressing about her sense of style more than the lack of performance (a given in a shoddily written role). The problem with Jolly LLB 2 is that the star is bigger than the material and that’s really a pity. A little toning down, a few more nuances in the lead performance, a couple of necessary cuts and much tighter, grittier narration could have turned this flaccid experience into a much more fulfilling one. Alas!

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