There’s not much by way of a groundbreaking plot in debutant writer-director Amit Masurkar’s Sulemani Keeda, but this tale of two struggling screenwriters seeking a break in Bollywood feels surprisingly astute. Anyone who’s spent an evening hanging out at one of Versova’s many coffee shops – where scripts are being banged out at every second table, and starry-eyed acting hopefuls persuade casting touts for “one chance only” – will likely recognize the world the filmmakers have set up, and possibly the characters that inhabit it too.

 

Roommates and writing-partners Mainak (Mayank Tewari) and Dulal (Naveen Kasturia) wander around the offices of top producers trying to hawk their script, but they’re repeatedly told they don’t have what it takes. Shooed away by everyone from Mahesh Bhatt to Amrita Rao, the pair catch a lucky break when they’re hired by a highly strung, Tarkovsky-loving son of a leading Bollywood producer to write an “out of the box” film for his acting debut.

 

When they aren’t brainstorming over new scenes for this script, Mainak and Dulal lurk around bookstores and poetry readings in the hope of picking up girls. It’s at one such gathering that the brooding introverted Dulal meets beautiful photographer Ruma (an excellent Aditi Vasudev), who encourages him to open his mind instead of selling out.

 

Refreshingly authentic in its portrayal of friendship between grown men, and mature in the manner that it addresses the dashing of one’s dreams, Sulemani Keeda strikes a nice balance between cheeky humor and genuine anguish. The arguments between our protagonists, appropriately sprinkled with cheap profanities, never ring untrue. Much like the performances of Tewari and Kasturia, who’re so natural on screen it’s hard to believe they’re playing roles.

 

The film coasts along smoothly for the most part of its 90-minute running time, except for the flabby, repetitive middle portion in which Dulal and Ruma engage in profound conversations each time they meet. Slickly shot, capturing a real, lived-in feel of the city, this is a charming little indie that manages to say something important, while never forgetting to make you laugh. I’m going with three out of five for Sulemani Keeda. Give it a chance.

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