Star Cast: Manav Kaul, Vidya Balan, Shefali Shah, Rohini Hattangadi, Kani Kusruti and ensemble.
Director: Suresh Triveni.
What’s Good: Vidya Balan cries in the first 20 minutes breaking our hearts as things mess up, Shefali Shah makes sure her silences navigate through the mess trying to make sense of it only to give a gut-wrenching climax.
What’s Bad: Nothing to stop you from watching it.
Loo Break: Would you even dare to ask that question to an angry Vidya Balan or an agitated Shefali Shah?
Watch or Not?:WATCH and you must. Suresh Triveni making this right after Tumhari Sulu is a testimony of his wide range and calibre.
Language: Hindi (with subtitles)
Available On: Amazon Prime Video
Runtime: 130 Minutes
A renowned TV journalist Maya Menon (Vidya) one day finds herself stuck in a situation where a girl is hit by a car and is on the deathbed. Her house-help Ruksana (Shefali) is the mother of the injured girl. Who hit the girl and ran away? What is Maya hiding? And who wants to shut the case by bribing Ruksana’s family is the film.
Jalsa Movie Review: Script Analysis
If you have come to a decision or a possible story that Jalsa is by judging the trailer, let me break your bubble. The trailer is highly misleading and that is done purposely. The movie will literally flip everything upside down. And flipping this world are Vidya and Shefali. God I can’t stop talking about how brilliant these women are and how much we need to treasure them!
It’s a task to talk about Jalsa without spoilers but I am going to try for the love for cinema. IMDb lists Triveni as a director, writer, actor, music composer, and producer. Is there anything left? The filmmaker writes Jalsa partnering with Prajwal Chandrashekar right after Tumhari Sulu (a brilliant slice of life film). Jalsa is everything contradictory and 100 times darker. The movie is about two women from different classes standing face to face on the rim of breaking down for their respective reasons.
The characters are sketched in a way that they don’t belong to a shade in two consecutive scenes, not even entirely grey. Maya (Vidya) is a woman who has framed herself as the epitome of truth and the person who runs to help the needy. But when the time comes she runs away rather than helping. But then she also regrets and terribly breaks down. Ruksana (Shefali) is working for Maya and belongs to a marginalised section. She dreams big for her kids and also knows a bit of English where she doesn’t force the ‘Gully’ accent, so refreshing. When she is bribed to stay quiet about the case she demands for more money but also wants to know who is the culprit. So it is the respective morality which is at test.
The filmmaker with the team blends the writing so much in the real world that within the first few scenes these people become three dimensional for the audience. Mentions of Alia-Ranbir’s relationship or how journalism works now, connect the audience stronger. And after a point makes you forget this is a movie you are watching.
The writing in Jalsa is a jigsaw puzzle created to have a domino effect at one point. The writers so skilfully place characters in the scheme of things that their effect is probably seen 40 minutes later and everything would make sense. Every single frame is intervened and has a purpose. Every person walks with their agenda to fulfill, even if it is a police officer who calls himself the most honest and is about to retire or the one who takes a bribe and justifies it. Even the slightest moments have a purpose to serve.
The dialogues by Hussain Dalal and Abbas Dalal are smart. They help Suresh Triveni to put his point in a more blended manner. The crisp commentary about Journalism, showing class divide without really making it preachy. But then it also seems a bit under played. Exploring the divide between the two would have made the drama more intense.
The humour in Jalsa doesn’t have a special corner to grow, it comes out of the seriousness. The situation sparks something that is not supposed to be funny for the characters involved, but as audience it is for you. It is fun to watch how organically a joke lands and has only enough life that it registers itself and doesn’t pull the audience out of the required darkness.
Jalsa Movie Review: Star Performance
I can’t see a better duo than this to do justice to the story that Jalsa is. Who would have even thought Shefali Shah playing Vidya Balan’s house help after Human, Dil Dhadakne Do, and Ajeeb Dastaans? But that’s what seasoned actors do, they tap the unimagined and make it their own. Shah as Ruksana uses the silence rather than words. Her anger or dismay comes out in her body language of the activity she is doing. Her gaze is enough to tell you what she is feeling and it doesn’t need words to support.
Vidya Balan on the other hand gets to showcase her impeccable dialogue delivery and the ‘so subtle yet so hard hitting’ emotional dept. There is a breakdown scene she has and how hauntingly beautiful she does that scene. Someone should research on how Vidya doesn’t go far away from her real self to create a character but still makes it look different in every single film.
Kani Kusruti gets to play Rohini, a trainee journalist who is looking for a path breaking story. While she becomes the medium to big revelations, her story doesn’t get the spotlight it deserved. Probably hers was the portion the filmmaker highlighted the plight of the youngsters who come to the city with big dreams, but that deserved some more exploration.
Jalsa Movie Review: Direction, Music
Suresh Triveni is a force to reckon. If this is how he progresses with each film, I hope he directs one each year. The filmmaker not just evolves but entirely transforms his filmmaking style. As said by Balan and Shah in interviews, he had an original self composed background score ready while narrating the movie and you can see that.
Triveni uses musical crescendo to create tension in and around the tale he is narrating. The movie is so synonymous with its BGM that at one point they merge so well that they don’t seem Iike two different aspects. Wait till you catch the violin playing some magical notes under Gaurav Chatterji’s command in the climax.
Saurabh Goswami is another reason why the tension in Jalsa remains the same till the very end of the film. His camera believes zooming inside every frame and capturing the world tightly. Even when an accident happens, Goswami doesn’t capture it in a wide shot, rather he chooses to show you the intensity by showing you the state of things inside the car and everything thing from the dashboard falls off. There are a very few cinematographers who can ace tight frames and Saurabh is definitely one of them.
Jalsa Movie Review: The Last Word
Jalsa gets its title from a trajectory you can’t even guess without watching the movie. It is a filmmaker evolving and two of the most prolific actors exploring their craft and maybe surprising their own selves as well. And the process churns out a film not just fresh but also an example of how a noir can be made differently.
Jalsa releases on 18 March, 2022.
Share with us your experience of watching Jalsa.
For more recommendations, read our A Thursday Movie Review here!