Sulemani Keeda is a Mumbai slang which can be described as a hardened habit of doing things that are not very productive. It can also be understood as the diluted version of Urdu word 'fitoor'. There are people who listen to their hearts and do things which others think as absolute waste of time. Those people are said to be bitten by Sulemani Keeda (bug).
Director Amit Masurkar's film Sulemani Keeda is about two such people Dulal (Naveen Kasturia) and Mainak (Mayank Tewari) who want to be 'top class' screenplay writers in Bollywood. Trouble is, no one producer is ready to buy their scripts. Mainak-Dulal, on the lines of Salim-Javed, want to tell new stories which are apparently intellectual and full of novelty. One fine day, they get hold of a producer's son Gonzo Kapoor (Karan Mirchandani), who wants to make something new, a film without any story, you know the way Andrei Tarkovsky used to think. His father Sweety Kapoor (Razzak Khan) is a street smart guy who knows the industry and thus he persuades the writers to come up with something 'marketable'. Meanwhile, Dulal meets a girl Ruma (Aditi Vasudev) who inspires him to do something meaningful in life, but all these things are happening simultaneously and at a very fast pace. Will the two writers be able to keep their sanity intact in such a scenario? What will happen to their long-cherished dream of making it big in Bollywood?
Sulemani Keeda is about normal people and their aspirations. Dulal reads a lot and appears to be a sensible guy on the outset, but somewhere in his heart, he is craving for a partner who could inspire him for a 'meaningful' life. Mainak, on the other hand, is not into reading as he believes that writing has nothing much to do with reading. He seems like a pile-on at the first glance but very soon you realise that he doesn't want to be a screenwriter to bring any new narrative into focus, he is probably blinded by the glamour attached to the Hindi film in industry. Like a lot of other strugglers in Mumbai, he is always looking for the opportunities to get laid. His language is full of expletives but that presents him as a radical thinker to some people, and most importantly to himself.
Mainak is ready to compromise from the word go as art comes secondary to him. But, is there anything wrong in such a thought process? Isn't being successful the first step towards preserving an exclusive art? So, it's difficult to find him wrong when he says, "Let's start working on Sulemani Keeda again," to Dulal towards the end. Though I desperately want it but revealing more will hamper the film's freshness meter for you.
Anyway, the protagonists are two entirely different people who live in a small house in Mumbai like most other strugglers. Their landlord's irritating son Pokhriyal (Krishna Singh Bisht) is their constant companion and like most Indians, he also thinks writing is as easy as eating cake. 'Writer ho, wo toh theek hai lekin karte kya ho' sort of a guy.
Ruma is the third angle of the story. She is focused, well-planned and mature in handling outside discrepancies. Her perspective towards life is very clear and she knows where she wants to be in the next couple of years. Basically, Ruma understands that life is not exactly like films.
The film completely relies on the chemistry among its three principal characters. Mainak and Dulal are high on energy and their conversation is full of film references. The film shies away from making Mumbai a character in the film and thus the director has chosen to not show the popular landmarks of the city but the local flavour seeps into the highly personalised conversation of the two wannabe writers. To be precise, dialogues form the soul of Sulemani Keeda. It seems like a deliberate choice to fill up the story with a lot of witty dialogues as writers are supposed to speak up their minds more often than 'normal' people.
A particular scene demonstrates the basic ideology of the story. Mainak brings Dulal to the road outside the house of actor Salman Khan and asks him, "Whose house is this?" Dulal replies, "Salman Khan's." Mainak asks again, "And?" "Salim Khan's," replies Dulal. Mainak explains, "Kuch samjhe. Writer actor ka baap hota hai."
Similarly, the whole drama surrounding the 'new wave Indian cinema' and how it gets flushed down the gutter in absence of a proper outlet has been captured well. The fuss about making a 'different' and 'classical' film is the essence of Gonzo Kapoor's character. Karan Mirchandani has got his hands on right strings. He is simple, subtle and understandable.
It's very apparent throughout Sulemani Keeda that it has been made with a small budget but the director should be praised for handling his central theme so well despite the constraints. From appearance to conversation to clothes, his characters are real and straight out from our ordinary lives. Dulal and Mainak have nothing 'heroic' to offer but they convey the intentions quite easily. Naveen Kasturia is lovable while Mayank Tewari reflects the life of 'blockbuster' writers of Bollywood. Interestingly, Aditi Vasudev's character in the film says, "I don't like conventionally good looking men," and these unconventional men with disheveled hair and weird tendencies have taken up the challenge to make you fall for them.
Sulemani Keeda is a perfect example of a well-made, low-budget independent film. It's engaging, entertaining and witty. Watch it, you won't be disappointed. (Interact with Rohit Vats at Twitter/@nawabjha