Akshay Kumar begins his new year with a bang and how. Having given three back to back 100 Crore movies in the year 2016, Akshay has proven that he still has a lot of acting left in him regardless of the various box-office up and downs in the past decade. This rise, of course, started with movies like Holiday and Baby. Now that we have reached 2017 we can certainly be hopeful that the steady incline will follow the same trend in the coming future.
Jolly LLB 2, like many recent movies of Akshay Kumar looks at a popular and very public issue. It has a narrow focus on the legal construct of India, with several other major and minor current issues thrown in the mix. The movies starts with an introduction to the ambitious, borderline greedy, and sometimes-morally-compromised character of Jolly Mishra (Akshay Kumar). Jolly, who is married to a beautiful and rather playful woman Pushpa (Huma Quereshi), dreams of one day having his own advocate’s chamber so that he can rise above the legacy of his ‘Munshi’ father. He has an intelligent and cunning mind but doesn’t use it for achieving success through the right means, partially due to his own predilections and partially due to the bureaucratic and corrupt legal system. Like any common man he has monetary problems and is struggling to survive –sometimes through questionable means- in this competitive and ruthless society. And like any common man he prefers to become a part of the system to achieve his dreams rather than opposing it. Like every common Indian he has learned to live with it all.
The movie very accurately describes a very basic problem of our society. Almost every citizen has some talent and is capable of doing some thing in his life. That is not difficult. The difficult part is going against the system which is filled with corruption and favoritism; to prove oneself and lead a peaceful and respectable life.
In between the dreams, lies, and deceits, it takes a jolt to the conscience for Jolly to leave his selfish ways. He realizes that there are several people around him who need legal help, one of whom he vows to help. The wife of a falsely accused terrorist comes to Jolly for help but he takes advantage of her, which ends up in her committing suicide. Almost everyone dear to Jolly shuns him out including his father. After that it is a familiar but totally entertaining journey to the finish. The character of defense lawyer Pramod Mathur (Annu Kapoor) personifies everything wrong with the current Indian legal system, and Jolly portrays a true Samaritan working against the system to provide justice to an innocent man. The movie is full of scenes mocking the Indian judiciary and providing the audience with some shocking but true facts. One scene in which a judge is using a mobile inside a courtroom right beside a ‘No mobile allowed’ board gives a glimpse of the actual picture of the most holiest and respected places of our country: ‘The Courtroom’. Judges and lawyers using their favorable position and lack of knowledge on part of the common people for their personal gains, aptly demonstrates what our country has come to and how weak the judicial system of this country has become. The tension and witty dark remarks on the society’s ways periodically give way to comical relief every now and then, majorly due to the character of the infamous Justice Tripathi (Saurabh Shukla).
However good and relevant the plot may be, a movie in India never works without some mainstream elements, as is the case for this movie. After all, the audience who are fed up from similar problems in their daily life come to the theater to catch a breath of relief and some entertainment, in hopes of temporarily escaping their stressful and mundane lives. Jolly LLB 2 utilizes the comedy genre aptly to its advantage, adding on to the obvious star-power the producers got by casting popular actors like Akshay Kumar and Huma Qureshi. The pre-existing fan following of these actors have no doubt helped to increase the box office total. The movie also utilizes the infamous Bollywood style love-story angle to reach the mushy audience and further strengthen its position. Other than that, in addition to mocking the legal system, the plot makes direct and sometimes irrelevant -and consequently irritating- remarks to other current hot issues like Women Empowerment, Patriotism, Kashmir controversy, Government’s neglect of the ‘common man’ etc.
Funnily enough the movie also contains a lot of product placements for brands like Pepsi, Amul Macho, Dainik Jagran; possibly to amp up the returns for the producers. These product placements sometimes cross the line of irrelevance to the valley of frustration, rendering the audience confused and irritated. One example is the unnecessary and unrequited praise of Alia Bhatt done by the judge, ending up in a funny ‘product placement’ of Alia Bhatt.
Future of Bollywood
The movie alongwith several of Akshay Kumar’s recent releases like Airlift and Rustom, is surely set to open up possibilities for several similar non-mainstream stories. Niche movies like these are unable to gather audience and hence aren’t considered good investments by the producers especially the bigger studios like Yashraj and Dharma Productions. The success of ‘different’ and socially relevant movies will hopefully catch the fancy of the bigger studios, and result in more movies like these. Movies which are not only attractive for the audience and profitable for the producers, but also relevant to the current issues of the Indian diaspora and largely-ignored pleas of the common man.