Jalsa Review: Vidya Balan, Shefali Shah put boiling emotions to test in this brilliant slow burner

Jalsa Review: The film starring Vidya Balan and Shefali Shah lays bare unadulterated human emotions while managing to not humanise the crime at the same time.

By Mukul Sharma
Fri, 18 Mar 2022 04:03 PM IST
Minute Read
Jalsa Review: Vidya Balan, Shefali Shah put boiling emotions to test in this brilliant slow burner
'Jalsa' poster | Instagram/@balanvidya

New Delhi | Mukul Sharma: Who, what, when, where, why and how? These are the five Ws and one 'H' which constitute the fundamental attributes of a newsworthy event. After Kartik Aaryan in Ram Madhavani's 'Dhamaka', it's Vidya Balan who has done a journalist's hat to depict these nuances of news in a more contemporary and rather contentious format. ‘Jalsa’ is a slow burner which builds to multiple points of psychological thrill and justifies its moral epiphanies which its narrative explores with nuanced storytelling.

As the narrative unfolds following that brutal First Act by Maya Menon (Vidya Balan), the depth of further sequence of events is taken forward by the kind of dialogues which are more conversational, least preachy and still brilliantly hard hitting. All aces to Hussain Dalal, the dialogue writer of Jalsa for it.

Director Suresh Triveni sets out the film scene after scene in the settings which are made to appear deliberately grotesque but equally humane too. Triveni makes you walk in the shoes of the central characters of ‘Jalsa’ and as a viewer when you assess the conflicting choices made by those characters, you fail to root for either of them. That, for Triveni, reflects his outsmarting brand of directorial prudence.

Vidya Balan (as Maya Menon) and Shefali Shah (as Ruksana Mohammad) are treat to be watched together as the duo complements each other during their mutual as well as each other's moments of reckoning. Their respective motherhood juxtaposes the insecurities arising from their different socio-economic settings and despite the intriguing hit-and-run narrative the humane nuance of bare emotions isn't lost.

The film perhaps did not intend to but ends up depicting the stark hierarchical differences between reporters and editorialists in a newsroom. Even at her worse, Maya (Vidya Balan) isn't as vulnerable as Rohini George (Vidhatri Bandi), the latter a trainee reporter while former a top editorialist in the digital news portal which supposedly has hoardings and digital signages in Mumbai.

The biggest achievement of ‘Jalsa’ is that it lays bare the unadulterated human emotions after first few minutes of its runtime. It doesn't humanise the crime but it humanises the sketchy characters behind all those who get affected by it.

Jalsa, starring Vidya Balan and Shefali Shah, is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

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