Tumhari Sulu is a feeling, Jalsa is a plot: Director Suresh Triveni

Filmmaker Suresh Triveni says he has tried to exploit the tremendous acting potential that resides in Bollywood star Vidya Balan with his latest movie Jalsa.

Triveni, who had worked with the actor for his maiden feature directorial, the critically-acclaimed 2017 movie Tumhari Sulu, said he was looking forward to collaborating with Balan after the success of the first movie.

“My greed of exploring more sides to this actor constantly kept me pushing towards stories that I can approach her with. I wanted to repeat that experience of working with her. It was a conscious choice that I wanted to do one more film with her,” Triveni told PTI in a zoom interview.

“My first description to Vidya about the two films was that Tumhari Sulu is a feeling, Jalsa is a plot,” he added.

Billed as “a highly engaging and captivating tale of conflict”, Jalsa follows the lives of a top-line journalist (Balan) and her cook, played by Shefali Shah.

Though he shared a great working relationship with Vidya Balan, Triveni said he wanted her to like the script of the latest film.

Balan had initially said no to Jalsa and it was only after a while that agreed to be a part of it.

“We had a wonderful experience while working on Tumhari Sulu. After that, we kept discussing various subjects and finally when I approached her with this subject and narrated it to her, she loved it.

“But she was not in a state of mind to accept it at that particular point of time. I had to accept it. Then after six months, around the first wave of the pandemic, she heard it (story) again and she committed to the project,” he added.

About casting Shah in the movie, Triveni said the Delhi Crime star is his all-time favourite actor and he has been in awe of her craft.

“I was like, what if I cast Vidya and Shefali in a film, would I like to watch it as an audience? The answer was yes. And that’s how it started. When I approached her with the script, she said she wants to do it. I was thrilled. I definitely wanted her in the film,” Triveni said.

Jalsa, the filmmaker added, is a movie filled with grey characters.

“Every character in this film has got a grey shade. They (Balan and Shah) are all victims of an event but they are extremely strong characters. They are fearless mothers and are unpredictable.”

The director said personally as a storyteller, he likes to venture into the territory of ethical dilemma, something that he has done with Jalsa.

However, at the same time, he made sure to not intellectualise it as that would mean they are attempting to talk about something very deep.

“On a day-to-day basis we all have various ethical dilemmas. And with this story, I had the opportunity to explore it. The story has many layers, there is an incident that triggers, creates a wave across different lives. Vidya and Shefali’s characters are affected and they have to make certain choices.

Jalsa premiered on Amazon Prime Video on Friday.

When asked about the reason for opting to release the film on an OTT platform, Triveni said his aim was to reach out to a wide audience.

“We all love the big screen but we also want a bigger audience and what better than having Amazon Prime where people from across 240 countries can see the film. Everyone would love to be on the big screen.

“It was a conscious call (to release Jalsa on OTT). During the pandemic, we all have thrived on this (OTT). I want to experience this as a storyteller and what does it mean to tell a story on a platform like this,” he added.

Jalsa also features actors such as Manav Kaul, Rohini Hattangadi, Iqbal Khan, Shafeen Patel, Shrikant Mohan Yadav, Surya Kasibhatla and Vidhatri Bandi among others.

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