Jalsa (Amazon Prime Video)
With Vidya Balan, Shefali Shah, Vidhatri Bandi
Directed by Suresh Triveni
When you have two powerful actresses driving a plot that leans toward a treatise on class difference in a language we saw in Bong Joon-Ho’s overrated film Parasiteyou know you are going to experience something out of the ordinary.
jalsa is a special movie. It is more layered, provocative and evocative than the outer skin of the product suggests. There is a lot going on below the surface than is visible. And how the two heroines Shefali Shah and Vidya Balan are intellectually equipped to face the rush hour traffic that the emotional velocity of the plot imposes on them!
Balan and Shah are the kind of actors who always let us know the storms that hide the calmness of their characters. I see Balan’s Maya Menon as way more messed up than she wants the world to see. Maya is a clone of Barkha Dutta: an aggressive truth-sniffing star reporter who grills a Supreme Court justice until he pees his pants.
Well, ok. Not enough. But if Ms. Menon (is she from Kerala, nothing in her accent betrays her background) had her will, she would make the judge wet his pants… Except Maya Menon herself ends up committing a crime that makes her… eh well…wet his underwear.
It’s a dark and incredibly tangled situation where affluent single mother and her housekeeper Ruksana are locked in a fight to the end before they even know they’re on opposite sides.