Director: Suresh Triveni
Writers: Prajwal Chandrashekhar, Hussain Dalal, Abbas Dalal, Suresh Triveni
Cast: Vidya Balan, Shefali Shah, Rohini Hattangadi, Iqbal Khan, Shrikant Mohan Yadav, Vidhatri Bandi, Shafeen Patel, Surya Kasibhatla
Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video
One hit-and-run case makes people from all walks of life cross paths with each other. The divide is largely the inequality between the rich and poor. A young girl is hit by a car in the wee hours in Mumbai. The person driving the car is Maya Menon (Vidya Balan), a hotshot journalist heading an online news portal. Ruksana (Shefali Shah) is Maya’s cook and caretaker of her disabled son Ayush. The girl hit by Maya’s car turns out to be Ruksana’s daughter. Maya prides herself as an honest journalist. The stakes are high and you can expect a twisted tale to follow.
But what happens next, rather how it unfolds is anything but engaging. It could go either of the two ways possible in a film – poetic justice or questioning morality. At once, Jalsa gave the impression that we might witness a dramatic thriller like Asghar Farhadi’s The Salesman. Triveni’s film has all the elements to achieve a feat like that. But the narrative loses its cohesiveness as the writers and director are busy weaving multiple characters together.
The track of Maya’s employee Rohini George (Vidhatri Bandi) trying to work on the case, could have become more potent in the narrative but it’s loosely connected. The makers are so invested in the two main characters Maya and Ruksana and what they have done for each other that an underwhelming climax leaves too much to the audience to figure out. I also didn’t understand why the film is titled ‘Jalsa’.
Watch the Jalsa trailer here:
Jalsa begins strong. But then it starts meandering. You wait for things to pick up. The twists and turns are scattered and because of that neither background score nor could editing save the film. The best thing about Jalsa is performances by the actors. Vidya is solid as Maya and is ably confronted/complimented by Shefali as Ruksana. There’s so much that Vidya does with her body language and Shefali does with her eyes. They do their best to add life to their half-baked characters. The supporting cast in Vidharti Bandi as reporter Rohini, Shrikant Yadav as the cop, Rohini Hattangadi as Maya’s mother are good in their parts.
The conscious attempt is to not make social commentary which adds more pressure on screenplay and dialogue to deliver the message without bluntly putting it into words. And it’s not clear what message the script is trying to deliver. The line of dialogue by Ruksana which triggers the climax does generate chills but only for a moment. There’s not enough motive to support the dialogue or the action. Suresh Triveni’s Jalsa starts off on a promising note but meanders towards an underwhelming climax.