The new movie Jalsa is receiving a lot of praises from the viewers and critiques not only for addressing the presentation and performance by the star cast but also for the storyline. The movie on Amazon features a unique script brought to life by stellar performers like Vidya Balan and Shefali Shah. To get more insights into the movie we talked to the director Surest Triveni and the actors.
When asked about the script Suresh Triveni said, “The intent of doing this was from end of 2018 but we started writing in 2020, when I had this 2-line idea and I met Prajjwal Chandrashekhar, and with him, we completed the script in around a year and a half. In Aug 2021 we started the shoot. I had many fabulous collaborations, and we kept working on the script. We tried our best to make sure that every word in it mattered.”
Vidya Balan stated about her experience working with Shefali Shah, “Unbelievable, I wish every actor finds a co-actor like Shefali Shah as it leads you to do a better job. She is a wonderful actor and I have admired her work for many years. I love her work intensely and it was an absolute joy to face the camera with her. Of course, the beauty was that Shefali Shah was nowhere present on the set, there was only Rukhsana and that’s the power of Shefali. After being such an accomplished and a celebrated actor, to see her have that hunger and passion, every day on the set, though we didn’t have too many scenes together but whenever there were I felt it every time.”
She added while speaking about her character, “I think multiple readings with Suresh Triveni and understanding the conflict at various levels, that of an individual, a mother, a daughter, and a woman. That really helped me get a grasp on the character and her internal conflict. There were some things that were tough for me, which was a scene that I had with Ayush where I am screaming back at him, and that is one of the toughest scenes that I have ever done, as I have to some brutal things to that child, I don’t want to say it to any child, specially to Surya who is a beautiful child, but I had to do it. I was very nervous, and I told Suresh I am going to need help for it. Surya and I did some workshops with a coach named Pooja Swaroop, she helped us develop a trust with each other, because of which we were able to perform these scenes.”
Shefali Shah spoke about her preparation for her character, “First, I chewed up Suresh’s head, starting from the script level, and I think when you are working on the script with the director it gives you space, and you start rebuilding the character. When you have a director like Suresh Triveni who is so nuanced, it’s a treat.
Also, I asked this question that do you take a reference point from somebody, the thing is I have my house help, which is a big part in my life. It’s not something that you go to a school and study. It is a part of your life, a part of your family. Also, Rukhsana primarily is a mother, who I am too, so her fear, her anger and frustration come from there. So, it came easy to me.
She continued, “Well, I genuinely believe that if you can say something in 2 words then don’t use 4, and if you can say something without any words, don’t use 2. We have the luxury of a camera which catches every small nuance. Also, the place from where my character comes from, she doesn’t have the platform to be so vocal, so whatever she is feeling it is bottled-up. That’s why the blast of emotions happen. I was discussing this in the beginning that it is easy to come onboard with Rukhsana because there are emotions which are so in your face. But I think the more frugal you are with letting it all out, the more measured and held back you are, the more plain you are going to feel. When there is an explosion, it’s out, its done, but the fear of that explosion is what keeps driving that psychosis. I don’t know if I am making sense but something such.”
Suresh Triveni spoke about how he came up with the title, “There were various titles. Normally the title is associated with celebration, but it also means that people coming together from all walks of life. If you see the film, you will realize from where it comes and why it comes. It was not an easy title to arrive on but finally we wanted something that’s relevant to the film. I would say it is a celebration of ironies and choices.”
He added about the cast, “Not really, but my process is I try to imagine actors, I talk and write. I work by keeping actors in mind, although there is always a possibility that it can’t work. But your first intent should be this is who I had in mind and over here I have the two of them out. I had them in mind, and I wrote for them.”
When being asked about the ethical dilemmas in the story he said, “I don’t know actually; I don’t start a day by let me write a story about an ethical dilemma. I write with an inciting incident; I see what happens and what it can lead up to. I don’t approach a story like that. Characters are interesting when they have choices in-front of them. Ethical dilemmas become the part of the script as we develop. We didn’t approach the film like that, but after finishing we understood that there are dilemmas.”
He continued, “My job is to tell a story, a story which I am attached to. I leave the interpretation of that to the audience. My job is to tell a story and what viewers infer from it is not in my control.”