March 11th, 2022
In today's nostalgia review, we will be talking about the 1st film in the combo of Pawan Kalyan and Trivikram Srinivas, Jalsa. Released 14 years ago on April 2nd 2008, the film stars Ileana D'Cruz and Parvati Melton as the female leads, Mukesh Rishi as the main villain Damodar Reddy, and Brahmanandham, Sunil, Dharmavarupu, Prakash Raj, and Tanikella Bharani in other roles. In addition to Trivikram's direction, the music was done by Devi Sri Prasad, cinematography by KV Guhan and Rasool Ellore, with Art Direction by Anand Sai and Editing by A Sreekar Prasad. Let's find out what made it so memorable in today's review.
A peek into the life of Sanjay Sahu (Pawan Kalyan) a happy go lucky man who tries to navigate his relationships with three different women while being hunted down by a dreaded factionist named Damodar Reddy (Mukesh Rishi).
This is one of Pawan Kalyan's best performances and arguably his most popular role after the iconic Siddhu Siddartha Roy in all time classic Kushi. He's fantastic as Sanjay Sahu, a happy go lucky man with a unique philosophy in life. His comic timing is impeccable throughout, styling is amazing, and his trademark screen presence is on full display powering the film from start to finish. With such a fun and well written character, Pawan Kalyan is scintillantingly entertaining. His scenes with Brahmanandham are a laugh riot in the 2nd half along with his scenes with Prakash Raj throughout the movie which provide some of the films best comedic moments. His bickering with the heroines is equally as entertaining in addition to making life hell for his friends and the villains. All in all, Pawan Kalyan delivers an absolute livewire of a performance that ranks among the very best of his career.
Ileana as Bhagi is decent. Her screen presence shines brighter than the idiotic characterization written for her. She performs well and has good chemistry with Pawan Kalyan. Swathi's dubbing helps a lot with her character.
Parvati Melton is useless to say the least as Jyotsna. The trend of the 2nd lead in Trivikram movies being useless started with Jalsa and Parvati Melton paved the way for all the others in the future. To her credit, she does well in the two songs given to her in You and I and Jennifer Lopez.
Much like his frequent collaborator K Vijaya Bhaskar, Trivikram's films are known for utilizing comedians to their fullest and in Jalsa they're front and center.
Brahmanandham is hilarious as the constable Pranav and his scenes with Pawan Kalyan will have you laughing so hard your stomach will hurt.
Sunil as Seenu is equally as funny as a dude who's always a second too late and turns his life upside down. Unfortunately he disappears in the 2nd half and is never seen again.
Dharmavarupu makes his presence felt as a frustrated therapist and his trademark comic timing offers a lot of entertainment. Ali as Pawan Kalyan's friend has his moments as does Uttej.
Mukesh Rishi as Damodar Reddy has a terrifying screen presence but the characterization fizzles out by the end and is dominated by Pawan Kalyan. Tanikella Bharani is entertaining as his assistant.
Prakash Raj is hilarious in a unique role who has past history with Pawan Kalyan. Additionally Sivaji and Mallikarjuna Rao make cameo appearances and they're entertaining as ever.
Direction by Trivikram is adequate. The superstar screenwriter makes a return to Telugu cinema after 3 years and delivers a film like Jalsa. On paper, the film seems very simple but with Trivikram, his loglines are anything but simple and turn out to be dialogue heavy entertainers drowned with hilarious comedy. His previos outing in Athadu he was able to seamlessly blend the story, direction, and entertainment which resulted in a masterpiece but in Jalsa, only the entertainment portion works. The story itself is wafer thin and just filled with comedic blocks to keep you engaged. The storyline of a reformed naxalite fending off a factionist sounds exciting on paper but the execution leaves a lot to be desired. Damodar Reddy is presented as the most powerful villain but by the end he succumbs to the very philosophy of the concept of fear. Trivikram is also well known for his eccentric hero characters and by crafting a character like Sanjay Sahu, he manages to keep us engaged despite a disjointed narrative featuring a flashback explaning Sanju's past. The attempt is good but by the end of the film, it does not give the desired impact. There's a saying that says more style, less substance. That perfectly describes Trivikram's direction for the film. While the film might be breezy in totality, the film lacks a strong story or conflict for it to be anything amazing. Nontheless, the comedy portions work big time and overshadow the shallow plot for the most part and that is what works the most for Jalsa. Pawan Kalyan, the excellent songs, comedians, dialogues and everything else keep you engaged and distracted from the average direction.
Songs by Devi Sri Prasad are a MASTERPIECE. Arguably his greatest work, DSP is aided by the lyrics of the great Sirivennela Sitharama Sastry, Bhaskarbatla, and Ramajogayya Sastry and each and every song is a CLASSIC. It's a known fact that Trivikram gets the best out of every music director he works with and Jalsa is no different. DSP had to be on drugs or something because these songs are TOO GOOD. After 14 years we still go back and listen to them on repeat and that's a testament to the masterful work that is Jalsa's album. Whether audio wise or visuallly, each and every song is well crafted, composed, and picturized on screen. This is will go down as not just one of DSP's best works, but among the all time classic albums in Telugu cinema history. The BGM is also very good and is probably etched in your head at this point.
Cinematography by KV Guhan and Rasool Ellore is EXCELLENT. Jalsa is one of those films where the visuals are extremely friendly and quite frankly gorgeous to look at. The color palette in each and every scene is pleasing to the eyes. While there are no incredible aerial shots or anything spectacular, they're extravagant and compliment the film so well. The songs are also a feast for the eyes and they've captured Pawan Kalyan in the most handsome fashion possible.
Art Direction by Anand Sai is FANTASTIC. The contemporary house set where Sanju and his friends stay along with the jail set for Damodar Reddy are AMAZING. All of the song sets are superb as well and provide a visual feast.
Editing by A. Sreekar Prasad is fine.
Fights by Vijay are well composed and provide a lot of goosebump moments. Our picks are the interval fight and climax fight.
Production Values by Geetha Arts are EXTRAVAGANT. Jalsa is a visually rich film in each and every department. The slick visuals are helped by good editing to give the movie a very well paced narrative.
+ Pawan Kalyan
+ Action Sequences
- Thin Storyline
- Adequate Direction
- Unconvincing Flashback
- Dumb Female Leads
- Villain's Motives
After Athadu, it was always going to be hard to follow that up and teaming up with Pawan Kalyan doesn't make it any easier as you have to cater to the expectations of his fanbase and have the general audience like the film as well. Trivikram was up for the challenge and succeeds for the most part.
While it doesn't boast the strong storyline and the adepit direction that Athadu had, Jalsa is still a fun and entertaining film for the most part.
The film starts off on a stunning note where Mahesh Babu gives an introduction for Pawan Kalyan and at the time they were the two biggest superstars in Telugu cinema at that time. This combo itself provides unlimited goosebumps.
The 1st half is very entertaining with a goosebumps interval bang and the 2nd half is average with the negatives being an unconvincing flashback and simple ending to the villain by the end.
Jalsa delivers what it promises which is fun as the film has so many hilarious comedy episodes that keep you entertained despite a weak plot. That itself is why it's garnered classic status among the Telugu fandom over the years.
Overall, Jalsa is a philosophical romantic action comedy that's entertaining for the most part. Pawan Kalyan, classic songs, rich cinematography, and the amazing comedy outshine the flaws in this entertainer. You can safely add it to the list of movies with unlimited repeat value and the saying "yenni saarlu choosina bore kottadu".
Signing off -
Teja Rao - Die hard Telugu Cinema fan.