Jalsa Movie Review: A Rare Class of Filmmaking that Hits Differently

I have never found writing a movie review difficult. Usually, it is about watching the film as the audience and becoming a critic only later. It is a tad challenging during biographies or other real-life-based movies when you are not judging a story but an event or personality.

But what if a fictional creation is so natural that it is hard to analyze in words? I didn’t know until I watched Jalsa, an Amazon Original.

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Jalsa Movie Review Summary

If Loop Lapeta was too unreal to believe and A Thursday took too much creative liberty, I would call Jalsa the most authentic narration of recent times that shakes you to the core. One hour into the film and you know you are up against a rare class of filmmaking. 

By the time curtains fall, Jalsa has taken over the whole of you. You’re engrossed to such an extent that even credits feel like adding to the story. Jalsa is a ticking time bomb that explodes in the end and leaves you emotionally destroyed. It is a must-watch film for cine lovers.

Jalsa Movie Synopsis

Created by ‘Suresh Triveni and team’, Jalsa stars Vidya Balan (Maya) and Shefali Shah (Ruksana) in lead roles.

Ruksana works as a cook in Maya’s house while also looking after the latter’s son, Ayush. She shares a healthy bond with the family and is utterly loyal to them.

On the other hand, Maya is a reputed journalist with a digital news channel. Things take an ugly turn with a hit and run of an 18-year-old girl. The movie is based on the accident but not in an investigative manner. 

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What works for Jalsa?

The movie has several high points that must be discussed in-depth.

Story

Jalsa has a story that looks plain to the naked eye. There’s a hit and run case, and soon you get to know the culprit and the victim. Generally, this would make up for an investigative thriller, but that’s where the surprise is.

Instead of focusing on solving or complicating the case, the writer decides to keep it real. What separates fiction from reality? It is the add-ons. Jalsa’s story doesn’t have unnecessary elements that tend to sharpen or, unintentionally, make the product inferior. 

It picks the trail of being true, and it stays like that; there’s no deviation in between. When there’s no over-hyped presentation on screen, things look genuinely close to real life.

Performances

Jalsa stars two of the most incredible female actresses of all time, Vidya Balan and Shefali Shah. If the story is the body, they are the soul of Jalsa. Maybe, a not so impactful lead pair would have destroyed the whole show.

Vidya Balan doesn’t need an introduction and I won’t give one either. She plays Maya Menon, a journalist, and, in contrast to the usual image of media personnel, she is honest and has a moral aptitude. Till this point, everything’s all good. Give me any other actor, and they would have done it with ease.

Then comes the class of Balan as she gives her personal touch to Maya Menon. Those expressions, eye-rolls, pauses, puzzlement, dialogue-delivery, situational change of mien, and numerous other features; you name it, and she delivers an ideal blend.

What makes Vidya Balan a distinguished actor is her ability to take on challenges within a challenging role. She is made for the complicated characters that writers take time to lay down.

Moving ahead, there’s another charming and underappreciated actress of Indian Cinema, Shefali Shah, who plays Ruksana Mohammad in Jalsa. Ever since she delivered that fantastic performance in Human, I had been waiting with bated breath for Shah’s next.

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From the outset, her character in Jalsa is not unique or flamboyant. She plays a maid but again, it boils down to not what you do but how you do it. There are two kinds of calmness, one is serenity, and the other is the silence before the storm. Shefali Shah aces both comprehensively.

She is always at ease on screen, even while being angry or stuffed with irritation. As you may have noticed in Human, Shah’s eyes are enough to convey a message; there is no need for her to speak at all.

That fiery look in her orbs is frightening, specifically if you are watching her act in a dark room past midnight (like me). You wait for the story to unfold, and she makes it worth your time. Shefali Shah’s eloquent act is like that ingredient, the absence of which can destroy the entire dish.

There’s another actor, Surya Kasibhatla, who leaves a long-lasting impact. In the film, Surya plays Balan’s son (Ayush) and leaves no stone unturned in facilitating the screenplay. The rest of the cast, including Rohini Hattangady, Shafin Patel, Vidhatri Bandi, Mohammad Iqbal Khan, and Shrikant Mohan Yadav, walk in unison. 

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Fascinating Narration

While others may have a different view, I feel Jalsa boasts of an excellent narration. Incredible things or people do not become incredible overnight; it takes time. Similarly, Jalsa also takes time to break the ice. Once done, it doesn’t leave you.

Especially, the last 15-20 minutes of Jalsa are outstanding right, left, and center. It uses the babel of voices to the right effect, allowing Jalsa to stretch the wait for its climax. 

The Climax

Talking about the climax, Jalsa perfects it to the core. It is powerful, exhilarating, and intriguing, allowing you to stay glued to the screen. Hold no second thoughts, Jalsa might test your patience, but it rewards you equally well.

Screenplay and Background Score

Unlike the usual past and present stuff, Jalsa’s screenplay follows the contextual situation of characters. It shows you the impact of one action on another and sometimes even saves you from getting lost within the plot.

The film’s background music ups the ante and adds a Midas touch to the story. It is gripping and impulsive, giving you several hair-raising moments.

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What doesn’t work for Jalsa?

Wasting Manav Kaul

Why on earth would someone waste an actor like Manav Kaul for a small appearance? The stupendous performer makes a cameo, which is inconsequential. Someone else would have done better because when you are watching Manav Kaul, you want to see more of him.

Is Jalsa a Watchable Film?

Absolutely! Jalsa is a great film to spend your time on. To some, it might feel slow initially, but eventually, Jalsa succeeds in keeping you on the edge of your seat. 

*The following section might carry spoilers*

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FAQs

Is Jalsa based on a real story?

No, Jalsa is entirely a work of fiction.

Where can I watch Jalsa?

You can stream Jalsa on Amazon Prime.

Jalsa ending explained:

Towards the end of Jalsa, Ruksana gets to know whose car hit her daughter. Sandwiched between reality and loyalty to her master, she has to make a quick decision. Finally, Ruksana decides to make a move as she goes to Maya’s house and returns her money.

Consequently, she takes Ayush to the seaside and leaves him alone on the shore. It is implied that she tried to kill him; however, that was not true because when a worried Maya reaches the place, she finds his son playing with Imad in a boat.

I infer from Jalsa’s ending that Ruksana never wanted to kill Ayush because she loved him like her own son. She only wished Maya to feel the fear of losing one’s child. 

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