I’m not going to classify this as a full movie review with a star rating since I didn’t finish the movie, for which I have a good reason: after forty minutes, I had no idea what was going on. If you can’t read Hindi, don’t bother watching Jolly LLB.
The story generally concerns a lawyer named Jolly (Arshad Warsi) who wants to make a name for himself in Delhi. However, the movie opens with a dramatic chase scene in which the drunk driver of an SUV follows a sedan full of drunk young people. The car appears to veer successfully around a corner, but the SUV fails to make the turn, smashing into a concrete pillar.
As far as we are shown on screen, no one outside of the SUV is injured in the accident. There’s a line of laundry hanging from the pillar, but we don’t see any dead bodies or other evidence of injury. We learn later that the driver — the son of a famous, wealthy family — was uninjured in the crash when he is found not guilty of causing the accident.
All that is depicted on screen is a one-car accident in which no one was hurt.
Things get confusing when various characters say that this is the most sensational trial in recent memory. A scene shows the driver’s celebrity lawyer (played by Boman Irani) receiving payment from the rich family and admitting to bribery to secure a favorable verdict. Jolly mentions media reports alleging evidence tampering, and he finds an eyewitness who was never called by the prosecution.
None of this hubbub makes any sense, given the footage of the accident presented to the audience. I watched the scene a second time, and, again, there’s nothing to indicate that this is anything more than a non-fatal, one-car accident. Why would that cause such a media sensation?
I suspect the answer lies in the newspaper clippings shown in a montage of Jolly’s search for the truth. They are all written in Hindi and are not subtitled in English, so the clippings are meaningless for audience members (like me) who can’t read Hindi. The headlines may mention anything from multiple deaths to the high cost of repairing the pillar, but non-Hindi readers have no way of understanding what was written.
Then again, the headlines may not add anything to story and everyone may truly be freaking out about a minor traffic accident. I have no way of knowing.
Perhaps the events of the accident are explained in dialog later in the film, but forty minutes seems more than enough of an investment of time when I wasn’t given enough information to follow the plot. (Nor should anyone outside of India be expected to know the details of the 1999 hit-and-run accident that inspired the plot.) Since the majority of the audience for Jolly LLB likely reads Hindi, I don’t blame the filmmakers for presenting information the way they did. However, filmmakers need to consider that presenting critical plot information via written Hindi — and without subtitles — limits the size of their potential audience.