Sunday, December 7, 2014

Writer Actor का बाप होता है!: Sulemani Keeda

*Mild Spoilers*

I read somewhere a definition of success which I think is the most apt. It’s having the freedom to do something that makes you happy.

I have immense respect for people who give up the luxury they could have easily afforded to chase their dreams. Sooner or later, such people either make it big or give up. In fact there are more failures than success stories around us and perhaps that’s all the more reason we all should strive harder to balance out this skewed ratio.

"Karte kya ho tum log?" Cinema.
Sulemani Keeda is a film about two such writers who are struggling to get their first film made in a film industry which is more obsessed with figures then a hormone-fuelled adolescent teenager. It's ironical that this film has released with 'Action Jackson' (which would easily go on to make 100 crores+), exactly the kind of film because of which no one is ready to invest money in a film like Sulemaani Keeda. जब काम मस्तराम से चल सकता है तो प्लेबाय क्यूँ छापनी! Even after receiving rave reviews at MAMI and other film festivals all over the world, this film was in the cans for a long time and finally PVR Director’s Rare came to the rescue!

Sulemani Keeda is the most I have laughed this year while watching any film in a theatre (including Big Hero 6, 22 Jump Street and Queen). Maybe, coz the dialogues are too real (which we otherwise don't get to see in mainstream films any more)? Maybe coz I identified with the characters too much? One H R Bacchan and Sahir Ludhiyanvi reading Hindi poetry sprouting brooding intellectual Devdas and another a goofy माँ बेहन की गालियों से भरपूर हमारी संस्कृति के खिलाफ वाली poem लिखने वाला foul mouthed horny बक्चोद whose shelf is full of World Cinema classics! Both of whom are desperately visiting book stores and open mics to get laid. We know these people. We have met these people, we all have been in a room full of ganja-smoke and pungent alcohol smell with these people. Some of us ARE these people. I guess it’s semi-autobiographical for débutante director Amit V Masurkar (a name which we will hear often in the future I hope), just like ‘Swingers’ was for Jon Favreau or ‘Clerks’ was for Kevin Smith or ‘Adaptation’ was for Kaufman. Vacuous Versova writers pitching their indie-bhindi scripts to traditional Bollywood producers/Studios and the producer’s crazy Andrei Tarkovsky loving coke snorting son who wants to make an out of the box film featuring lustless dark orgies, taking them to his farmhouse to complete the script. In between all this madness, there is an extremely cute and 'real' love story (well, almost).

What I loved about the jodi of Naveen Kasturia’s Dulaal (strange name but it pays off by the way of the jokes the writer cracked at its expense in the film) and Mayank Tewari’s Mainak (meaning 'Mountain with Wings', another great ice breaker) is that they called each other “तुम” which is a minor details but a great detail coz Mainak would have loved to call Naveen “तू” but since Naveen might have kept on calling him “तुम” (since maybe he is from the north जहां लोग इतना आसानी से तू तडाक से बात नहीं करते unlike Mumbai, no offence Mumbaikars!), Mainak had to reciprocate the respect. माँ बेहन की गाली दे देंगे एक दूसरे को, पर address तुम बोल के ही करेंगे!

The film has no aspirations to become ‘sensible’ in an artsy way which is apparent from the scene where Dulaal slaps Mainak. It could have been their 'Dil Chahta Hai' moment and just like Amir walked away silently from Akshay, Mainak could have walked away but he slaps back and they get into an awkward scuffle with pigeons flying around them and traffic going about nonchalantly. It's as real as it gets.

"I don't like conventionally good looking men."
Aditi Vasudev's Ruma, the quintessential independent, staying alone girl in Mumbai whose room is filled with photography books and a James Dean poster adorning it's wall is exceptional. She was brilliant as Rishi Kapoor’s daughter in 'Do Dooni Char' but here you see her as a fully grown adult capable of making mature decisions for herself and instilling some sense in the hopeless romantic Dulaal. Their conversations are superbly written and leaves you with much to ponder on. ("शायद इसी बात का डर that there's only one life") Their relationship reminded me of the sexually charged excellent French drama of last year: 'Blue is the Warmest Color', where one of the two female leads advises the other to move on after a passionate lesbian love affair (here, though, Dulaal and Ruma they don’t even so much as kiss each other and their story unfolds over only 3 days). 

The climax scene with the parents is a fab example of sensibly written absurdity (It's almost Louis-que in terms of the embarrassment quotient for the hero) and the inventive animated sequence with the Cat will be forever etched in my mind along with the 'Kill Bill' and 'Abhay' sequences. Yes, it's that good!

It’s as good a coming of age film as “Frances Ha”, a film that I believe is very close to this one thematically with a similar kind of promising climax. In both these films, the protagonist realises by the end that the definition of success is not what the tabloids feed us.

The film has only two songs, both of which are playing on loop at my laptop as I write this. Colaba song, a beautiful stop motion tribute to South Mumbai and nascent love, while Door is a love-addled heart’s plea to the lover to not go far away! Breezy and quirky, just what this film needed. Great job, Arfaaz-Anurag!

Maybe I watch too much films or read too much blogs or follow too many people who share the same “Passionforcinema” as I do but I loved this film. It’s only the 4th Bollywood film that I loved this year after 'Queen', 'Haider' and 'Hasee toh Phasee' and this is a scary fact. We are producing garbage at an extremely high rate which is being consumed at an even scarier higher rate!

Out of the box scene

This film is the story of writers all over the world, not just Bollywood. Maybe that’s the reason it connects at a much deeper level with people who have similar aspirations. What gives them hope? That may be one day the industry and the 'suits' will realize that it’s the writer who is the baap! He is the one who creates the dream worlds on blank A4 sheets which later gets materialized on screen with beautiful locations, VFX imagery and camera angles, but it all stems from inside his cortex.

Indies like Short Term 12, The Way Way Back, Smashed, The Kings of Summer, Drinking Buddies, In a World, Liberal Arts, Ruby Sparks are all downloaded and seen by movie lovers all over the world, coz they seldom get mainstream release. They receive standing ovations when they are shown at festivals like Sundance, SXSW, TIFF etc and movie geeks like us have to wait for the YIFY torrents to show up. You don’t have to wait for a torrent for this genuine and honest indie gem of a film. As far as the list of films based on our film industry goes, this charming little film will be sitting right up there on top with 'Luck by Chance'. Do not give it a miss. It’s playing at a theatre near you. Here is a list of places you can see it at.

जाओ, देखो भेन्चोद!

PS – The title of this post comes from an amusing scene which is such a hope-filled metaphor that keeps the batteries of these two slackers charged. I would watch the film again for that scene alone.

Avinash Verma . Follow on twitter at  

Note: You can now watch Sulemani Keeda online at:

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