Jolly LLB 2
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Annu Kapoor, Huma Qureshi, Saurabh Shukla, Maav Kaul
Director: Subhash Kapoor
Rating: 3/5

Jolly LLB 2 has its heart in the right place. It sets premise deftly: a statement against the systemic rot in the justice system. It also sets the tone: satire, therefore exaggerated and over-the-top. Yes, there are happy Holi songs, and sad songs that lead to epiphanies, but director Subhash Kapoor isn’t trying to make Court (the 2014 award-winning indie courtroom drama). He’s making a commercial film, one that will reach wider audiences — therefore Akshay Kumar as Jagdishwar Mishra, aka Jolly, a maverick junior lawyer; and a script full of punchlines for him to mouth, succinct and catchy so that people can go home and repeat them.

And all of that works just fine.

Unfortunately, the curse of the second half strikes. LLB 2 is brilliant as long as it stays out of the courtroom. Inside, it becomes implausible, too full of melodrama and too low on logic, even for a satire.

The film is set in Lucknow, Jolly is an assistant to the city’s ‘biggest lawyer’. In reality, he’s little more than a peon: reduced to holding umbrellas, assisting with chores. Jolly’s father was a secretary. And that’s as far as he should aim, the system seems to be telling him.

The only way he can rise, then, is

by being part of the corruption. Jolly doesn’t have qualms about breaking the rules. That’s established at the outset. In a remarkable scene, Kapoor takes a dig at the education system — a paper is leaked, and Jolly announces the answers on a loudspeaker to make a quick buck. It’s a clever, layered statement. If only the rest of the movie had stayed that clever.
Jolly’s epiphany comes after he exploits someone weaker than him — Hina Siddiqui (Sayani Gupta, in a brilliant cameo), who is seeking justice for her dead husband. A sharp dream sequence leaves our corrupt lawyer no longer jolly. The same might be said for the film.

Post-interval, there are absurdly funny moments — a roomful of lawyers on dharna, a women’s cricket game in Varanasi with scantily-clad male cheerleaders. Satire is replaced by earnestness; nuance by endless speechifying.

Court attendees clap at punchlines, morality is called upon as legal argument. The film also meanders off-topic into militancy and Kashmir.

That it ends with Judge Tripathy (the only character from the original Jolly LLB; Saurabh Shukla) rattling off news headlines — “21,000 judges in India for 3 crore pending cases” — says it all.

Jolly LLB 2 should have been a satirical mirror to society; instead, it ends up being another clichéd parable of good versus evil.

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