Film titles can be misleading. A thriller about a hit-and-run incident titled Jalsa does seems like an odd proposition and rightfully so. But, director Suresh Triveni has pulled a trick up his sleeve that unfolds in the final moments of this drama that has two strong women at the very heart of it.
Maya Menon (Vidya Balan) is the head-honcho of a media house whose USP is doing serious sit-down interviews with important people. One night, Maya meets with a freak accident that involves her maid Rukhsar’s (Shefali Shah) daughter.
At that very instant, life presents her with a choice to either flee the place or help the victim. Maya’s choices define most of what happens to her throughout the film.
Rukshar, on the other hand, goes from being someone who blames fate to a person who slowly puts together pieces of this skewered jigsaw puzzle.
Jalsa’s biggest strength is director Suresh Triveni’s treatment of the story. For someone who invests in characters as much as the climax of the film, Triveni creates a fascinating world for Maya and Rukshar.
The performances of the lead women are a major reason why you will sit through some flawed and uneven moments in the film.
Vidya’s Maya Menon is strong from the outside but weak and vulnerable from the inside. Her scene with her mother where she has a meltdown is perhaps one of Vidya’s best performances in her long illustrious career.
Shefali Shah, on the other hand, expresses most of her anger and frustration through her eyes and you can’t help but feel for her. Jalsa doesn’t have too many confrontational scenes featuring the two women, except for the dark climax.
Jalsa’s first half is long and takes a while to pick up the pace. Triveni gets carried away in certain scenes where too much time is spent in telling parallel stories. The way the climax unfolds and the case reaches its final outcome is not fully convincing either.
But if you look beyond these flaws, Jalsa is a terrific watch. The way the logic behind the title of the film hits you, is also a reason why Triveni is so good at his craft.
alsa is a celebration of two powerhouse performers - Vidya Balan and Shefali Shah. To watch these two women go for the kill and make the most of what’s offered is a big enough reason to make this your weekend watch.