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Siraj Syed

Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. He is also an acting and dialogue coach. 



IFFI 51, 16-24 January, 22: PCs of Shreedhar B.S., Prithvi Konanur, Gunjalamma

IFFI 51, 16-24 January, 22: PCs of Shreedhar B.S., Prithvi Konanur, Gunjalamma

“The way we live right now suggests there are two different worlds - of “them” and “us”, where “they” are misunderstood by “us”. Our film is that window to see a world which needs to be understood with love, in all its nonconformist ways, so that we can charter a path to assimilate them in one world, where we all co-exist with love and mutual respect.” This was said today by Shreedhar B.S., Director of ‘In Our World’, an IFFI 51 documentary film at the 51st edition of the International Film Festival of India, which delves into the world of autism. He was addressing a press conference, along with Director Prithvi Konanur and actor Ms. Gunjalamma, of another IFFI 51 Indian Panorama film, Pinki Elli?

“Our film provides an opportunity to the world to know and feel the pain which parents of autistic children go through”. Sharing his inspiration behind making the film, Shreedhar said: “The children are looking for love, but they find it difficult to communicate with people in their lives. This is what made me feel that I should be a messenger for these people. I would like to thank the three autistic children for giving the team the recognition it earned today. Thank you to the parents too, as they allowed me to be the medium to take the message to the world.”

The 51-minute documentary, shown in the Indian Panorama Non Feature category, without any voice-overs, has made an attempt to unpack the world of three autistic children, their families and presents a nuanced understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). It presents a humane face by highlighting the many shades of autism, through the narratives of three children. “My take was to show them as regular kids who do have certain behavioural issues but nothing that cannot be handled or tackled to bring them within the folds of ‘normal’ society”, added Shreedhar.

The film was premiered at 51st edition of IFFI in Goa on January 18, 2021. The documentary has been directed and produced by film-maker Shreedhar B.S., of Shred Creative Lab, who is a winner of 43 national and international awards, for creative excellence.

Prithvi Konanur, Director of 'Pinki Elli?' said: "This movie is a social thriller set in Bengaluru, and is about children in an urban set-up. The film has just two professional actors, while the rest are all those who never acted in any film. It is a complete work of fiction. We shot the entire film hand-held to give it a realistic touch and feel. While the film is about the missing baby, the main focus is on the characters that surround the baby. We are happy that the response to the film so far has been very good”.

Ms. Gunjalamma, who is a first-time actor and played the role of maid, Sanamma, spoke about her fears and doubts while portraying the role. “When approached for the movie, I told Art Director Ramachandranna that I know only one work, that is, to take care of kids. But he told me to do the same in cinema.  I was initially very scared.”

On her invitation to attend the festival, she had this to say: “I left food for three days when I was told that I will be travelling to Goa by flight. I was overwhelmed to see cameras taking my photographs when I came to the film festival. After the screening, I got a lot of appreciation from the audience for my performance. I am too happy.”

About In Our World

In Our World documents the lives of three autistic children, explored through their day-to-day lived reality, to unpack their world and bring about a nuanced understanding so we can all co-exist with love and respect. With in-depth, semi-structured, candid interviews of parents, therapists; their day-to-day activities like swimming classes, horse-riding and music lessons; their special moments with parents, all converge into a narrative that spells hope. It unveils their experiences, their daily negotiations and trials to tell the world that they do not need sympathy; rather they need to be understood and accepted for who they are; that we need to understand their world in order to co-exist as equals, with respect and love.

About Pinki Elli?

Pinki Elli? (Where is Pinki?), a Kannada movie directed by Prithvi Konanur, features Akshatha Pandavapura, Deepak Subramanya, Anoop Shoonya and Ramachandra Hosur as lead characters, and is directed by Prithvi Konanur.  The movie is about secrets and surprises in the hunt for a missing infant.

It is a new movie from ‘Railway Children’ director Prithvi Konanur set in Bengaluru. It begins as an exploration of every parent’s nightmare but then reveals itself to be something else altogether – a clinical examination of a remorseless society, that leads to a heartless crime.

The film, which is Prithvi Konanur’s third feature, is set in Bengaluru. It revolves around Bindhushree, a working woman, who leaves her eight-month-old daughter Pinki in the care of her maid Sanamma.  Bindhushree doesn’t know that Sanamma has been loaning Pinki to a relative, Anasuya, who then uses the infant to beg at traffic signals.

Pinki goes missing one day, sending Sanamma and Anasuya into a panic. The film is both a social realist drama as well as a suspense thriller. Pinki’s trail is littered with surprises, while secrets about each of the characters tumble out, during the course of the police investigation.

The story plot of Pinki Elli? was inspired by newspaper reports of babies being rented out, and the story idea has been with Konanur for close to four years. The narrative took a while to fall into place.


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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.

Bandra West, Mumbai


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