PLAYING FOR LAUGHS: Akshay Kumar and Annu Kapoor, funny but erratic.
Cape Town - Akshay Kumar takes over from Arshad Warsi as the titular character in Jolly LLB2, albeit a different one than in the original film. He gives a terrific performance as a lawyer bent on redeeming himself and exposing corrupt policemen. Kumar successfully raises the energy, despite the dull moments in writer/director Subhash Kapoor’s flawed screenplay.

Jagdishwar Mishra or Jolly is a lawyer who works as an assistant to Rizvi, the top legal mind in Lucknow. His retired father was the lawyer’s assistant for 30 years and now Jolly, despite being a lawyer himself, finds himself stuck in the same position.

He has grand plans of owning his own practice and building a successful career in order to provide his wife with all the best things in life and take care of his son and elderly father. He takes on some cases and appears to have a unique and clever way of defending his clients. But he doesn’t have the funds to rent his own office and move on his own.

He then defrauds a young woman who asks him to get Rizvi to take on her case.

He lies to her saying that Rizvi has agreed and then takes her money to pay for his office, thinking that he can return the money in a few days. But this leads to a tragic end. Jolly, filled with remorse then takes on her case himself, driven to find justice for her and her husband, who was killed by a senior policeman in a major cover-up involving terrorist activities.

Kapoor’s direction and writing is a hit and miss affair. His heart is in the right place as he tells a story based on fact and designed to lift the lid on corruption and how the masses in India still suffer as a result of injustice. But his execution is often fraught with plot conveniences as he steers his characters on a certain path, not allowing them to think for themselves. Often one gets the feeling that the actions are out of character and purely situational.

The court case is a battle of wits between Jolly, the smarmy defence lawyer Mishra and controlling the proceedings, Judge Tripathy, seemingly eccentric and bothered by his daughter’s impending wedding.

Annu Kapoor is very good as Mishra and Saurabh Shukla does his best as Tripathy, often proving very funny. But it is his character who proves very erratic.

He doesn’t keep a grip on his courtroom very well, as it often all ends in chaos.

Matters come to a grinding halt when Mishra objects to the judge’s ruling and stages a sit in. Instead of ordering the lawyer to comply or find him in contempt, he joins in the strike.

It is set up as a laugh, but merely slows down the pace and takes up unnecessary time.

The film is well made, despite the writing and directing flaws and is jolly good for the most part.