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Vidya Balan’s ‘Jalsa’ is a heart-wrenching portrayal of inner conflict

The film marks the reunites of the ‘Tumhari Sulu’ team of director Suresh Triveni and actor Vidya Balan, for this emotional drama.

SNS | New Delhi |

Vidya Balan is back on the OTT platform with Director Suresh Triveni’s ‘Jalsa’. The film marks the reunites of the ‘Tumhari Sulu’ team of director Suresh Triveni and actor Vidya Balan, for this emotional drama. The film has released on Amazon Prime on 18th March.

The narrative of ‘Jalsa’ revolves around Maya Menon (Vidya Balan), a thoroughbred journalist who is presented as the face of truth by her digital channel. She prides herself on her integrity and intrepidity. Her life is her little, specially-abled son Ayush (Surya Kasibatla) who spends more time with the house-maid Rukhsana (Shefali Shah) and his grandmother Rukmini (Rohini Hattangadi) than with her busy and supposedly single mother. Ayush’s father Anand (Manav Kaul) is just a lively filler, perhaps somebody who could not keep up pace with Maya.

The two (Vidya Balan and Shefali Shah) combine magnificently to pull the chestnuts out of the fire. If some of the efforts shows, it is solely because the material the duo called upon to work with is spread too thin.

The film opens with a happy moment but suddenly turns into tragedy as exhausted Maya (Vidya Balan) on her way back from work in the wee hours of the morning,  runs over the teenage girl and speeds away. The tragedy becomes bigger when the girl left by Maya in the pool of blood turns out to be Ruksana’s only daughter.

The rest of the story is about Maya hiding her guilt beneath the layers of confidence, assembled over the years in a profession that increasingly hates self-doubts. As Ruksana’s daughter Alia (Kashish Rizwan) lies in a hospital battling for her life, Maya takes her senior colleague, a friend and well-wisher Amar Malhotra (Mohammad Iqbal Khan) into confidence. He counsels that she let lie low until the storm blows over. But along comes an enthusiastic trainee journalist, Rohini (Vidhatri Bandi), who sets out to expose the cover-up. You have to watch the movie for understanding what exactly is happening.

Prajwal Chandrashekhar and Suresh Triveni’s screenplay touches upon a panoply of refrains – morality, journalistic ethics, police corruption, the class divide, the challenges of being a single mother, the struggle for work-life balance, and the dynamics of privilege.

In the bouquet of talent, Triveni has placed conflicts in front of his characters but they don’t cry for attention. They are mere coincidences that can happen to anyone and hence are all the more relatable and mind-numbing. Moreover, the best thing is, he has not included religion and caste, or gender into play.

Female-fronted Hindi films probably do not make instant news anymore because they are no longer as infrequent as they once were. Yet, one cannot but take note of the fact that Jalsa makes it a point to not only place two women at the heart of the plot but also write other significant female roles into the film.

Although it has the most eye-catching performance by all the actors, it could not hide some of the gaps. Like, the climax seems like an overstretched bid to redeem faith in humanity. The decision Maya takes towards the end feels a little improbable, and the way Rukhsana returns from the edge feels a bit contrived.

If these parts are ignored then it is worthy to watch.

You can watch the movie on Amazon Prime.

Here is the trailer: