Friday, February 12, 2016

9. Sulemani Keeda

Sulemaani Keeda was one of those low-profile films that all your friends love and egg you to watch but the multiplexes conspire to run the shows at odd timings and you miss out. I had forgotten all about it till I read an interview of the director (Amit Masurkar) in HT Brunch about his second film and ended up (legally) streaming Keeda.

Well, the film turned out to be exactly as I expected – made on a shoestring budget, on real locations, with identifiable characters on the fringes of the film industry. And yes, it was laugh out loud funny. It has walk-on parts by Mahesh Bhatt (who overacts as usual) and Anil ‘Gadar’ Sharma (who actually provides a real lead to the film parts), packing the script with nods towards the film industry, especially its writers.
The lead pair – the painfully shy Dulal and the painfully exuberant Mainak – form a quirky duo out to write a ‘badi film kissi bade Khan ke saath’. In their pursuit, they meet some real people picked up from suburban Bombay (or is it Mumbai?) and some not-so-real people (or are they?) picked up from Bollywood. You have a cat named Fellini and a star-son called Gonzo who wants to show ‘angry lustless dark orgies’ in films that are completely ‘out of the box’ (the new-age shorthand for ‘hatke’).
In between open mics for budding poets and shopping expeditions in Colaba, we get glimpses of scriptwriting sessions in farmhouses where fly-swatting neighbours turn out to be more important than they look.
The performances are uniformly real, of which Aditi Vasudev (who was earlier seen as Rishi Kapoor’s daughter in Do Dooni Char) really stood out. Razzak Khan – in a short scene as Bollywood producer Sweety Kapoor – brings in his customary flourish with a neat hanky trick.

Sulemaani Keeda captures beautifully the dilemma of the new-age writers in old-school Bollywood where Last Tango in Paris’ ‘masala scenes’ are used to pacify irate landlords and Dekalog is in conflict with Dabangg
Essentially, it is about writers and their ordinary lives in pursuit of extraordinary stories. The writers’ blocks, the snobbery of ‘film writers’ towards ‘TV writers’, their humble brags and their desperation are brought out really well. 
Quite naturally, there are some subtle tributes to writers. For example, the “life is a handkerchief” scene was done by Salim Khan in an interview and the exhortation to “think like the buyer, not the creator” was said by Javed Akhtar in a speech to budding writers. [Yeah, I love writers. Especially, these two.]  

And finally – having written a book on those two writers – I have to quote that one scene which made the film for me.
Mainak stops his scooter in front a building in Bandra.
Dulal: Arre bhai, yahan kyun rok diya?
Mainak (points to passerby): Isse poochho kyun rok diya.
Passerby: Yeh Sallu bhai ka ghar hai, iss liye roka.
Dulal: Arre, Salman Khan ke ghar kya karna hain?
Mainak: Yahan Salim Khan ji hi rehte hain… Samjhe? Kya samjhe?
Dulal: Yehi ke actor ka baap writer hota hai. 

[Frivolous Footnote: Sulemaani Keeda was made for Rs 8.5 lakhs in 2014. Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar were paid a little less than that for Kaala Patthar, a deal they struck in 1976. I don’t know if this is a comment on the low budget of SK or the high fees of SJ but thought of just putting it in.]

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