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About The Law

Friday, February 10, 2017
By Deepa Gahlot

This week’s release 'Jolly LLB' is a courtroom drama, a genre that lends itself to high-minded drama and thunderous ‘dialoguebaazi’. People may not remember which film it is from, but the line “Tareekh pe tareekh milti hai par insaaf nahin milta” (Sunny Deol’s most quotable dialogue from 'Damini').

The first Jolly LLB starring Arshad Warsi was about a lawyer taking on the rich and powerful. It made audiences feel good—never mind that the legal system takes years in real life and justice rarely favours the underprivileged. Which is why courtroom dramas appeal to audiences so much.

One of the finest legal dramas in Hindi cinema was BR Chopra’s 'Kanoon' (1960), a film so gripping that it broke convention and did not include a single song, making it the first songless Hindi movie.

The film opens with the murder of a man called Ganpat by Kalidas (Jeevan), who when brought before the court tells the judge Badri Prasad (Ashok Kumar)  that he cannot be convicted for the crime, because he has already served a ten-year-sentence for killing Ganpat, which means an innocent man had been condemned to prison.

Later in his chambers he has a conversation with fellow judges on capital punishment and whether a murderer can get away scot free. Badri Prasad’s daughter Meena (Nanda) is in love with a bright young lawyer, Kailash (Rajendra Kumar), who is also her father’s protégé.

A woman (Shashikala) who has a secret is being blackmailed by money-lender Dhaniram (Om Prakash). Badri Prasad’s son Vijay (Mehmood) is in debt to Dhaniram and is forced to sign a blank piece of paper. Terrified of his father, he asks Meena for help who in turn seeks Kailash’s intervention.

Kailash drops in at Dhaniram’s home and witnesses Badri Prasad killing the money-lender. (The murderer is a lookalike, but Kailash does not know that). A thief, Kaalia (Nana Palshikar in his best known role) is caught at the scene of the crime with his hands soaked in blood and accused of the murder.

He is presented before Badri Prasad in court, and only Kailash knows he is innocent, but he is in a dilemma because he thinks his mentor is guilty and how can he implicate him? He takes on the job of defending Kalia, which makes Meena suspect that he might be the murderer.

Apart from being an engaging thriller, 'Kanoon' also raised questions on the idea of justice, capital punishment, loyalty, friendship and the conscience at the centre. Any film that can reach the level of excellence BR Chopra achieved with this film will also win over the audience.

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