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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, 43: Malayalam film Thahira; struggles of a partially deaf woman and a visually impaired man

IFFI 51, 16-24 January, 43: Malayalam film Thahira; struggles of a partially deaf woman and a visually impaired man

“Thahira’s never-give-up attitude towards life helped in taking care of her sisters’ education and marriages. She also constructed a house with her hard-earned money, after her family lost everything due to her father's debts”.

The Malayalam feature film ‘Thahira’, under IFFI 51 Indian Panorama Feature Film section, tells the story of a real-life character, a hard-working and partially deaf lady, Thahira, and her journey through life, shouldering responsibilities.

Siddik Paravoor, director of the film, was addressing a press conference of the 51st International Film Festival of India (IFFI), in Goa. Thahira, and Clint Mathew, the visually impaired actor who plays the role of her husband, Bichapu, were also present at the press conference.

Thahira’s life is much like a film, with unexpected twists and turns.  Despite being hearing impaired, she survived all odds and never gave up on life. The sight of Thahira riding her scooter, loaded with 50 kg sacks of cattle feed, has been a common sight in her village. Apart from this, she also teaches driving to women in the locality.

It was this inspiring tale of Thahira that attracted Siddik to come up with a movie based on her life. However, he was not able to find an actress who can effortlessly pull of the heavy jobs done by Thahira. That is when he came up to the conclusion that he will cast none other than Thahira to portray herself on screen. Though she was apprehensive initially, Siddik managed to convince her, and thus Thahira became a movie star.

“Since we were on the lookout for a hero who had to be visually challenged and handsome, we came across Clint Mathew. Initially, he was reluctant, but finally agreed to play the role of Bichapu, Thahira’s husband.”

The debutant actor Thahira said: “Thahira is my real life story; Director Siddik Paravoor asked me if I can act in the film. I told, I don't know how to act, but only to live”.

Paravoor spoke of the peculiar struggles he had to face while making the film. “It revolves around two lead characters, one who is visually impaired, while the other is partially deaf. Due to this, I had to put in four times the effort it takes for a normal film, and nearly 40 retakes for every shot. It was a difficult job, and many said it will be a tough job to do, but I'm happy to have taken this up."

Clint Mathew said: “I’m proud to be a part of the film and to be a part of history, as this is the first film where a visually challenged person has played the lead role in a film.  Besides acting, I even dubbed, though lip sinking during dialogues posed problems. My director had all the trust in me and encouraged me with confidence and today I'm on this platform because of him." He informed that he teaches at the Hellen Keller School for the Blind in Palakkad, Kerala. Earlier, the Director expressed his gratitude to IFFI, the Directorate of Film Festivals (DFF), and “all the beautiful people and film-makers” for providing a platform to his film at the festival.”


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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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