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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. 



NYIFF package comes to India

NYIFF package comes to India

Like “Nasa”, they pronounce the acronym “Nyiff/nife”. And it is indeed ‘nice’ that a selection of films shown at NYIFF 2016 is being screened in Mumbai, during 21 June-21 July. It took the dedicated efforts of a team led by architect/interior designer/film producer Anuradha Parikh’s G5A Foundation for Contemporary Culture to make it happen.

With a warehouse, a forum, a ‘citylab’, a film society, a co-presenter (Sai Estate Consultants, run by the Wadhwanis, in Chembur, Mumbai) in place, premises developed in the erstwhile cloth-mill/industrial district of Mahalaxmi in central Mumbai (a 7-minute walk from the iconic Famous Studios), proceedings got underway at G5A’s black-box theatre on a Tuesday evening, even as the delayed monsoon showered its blessings (though some felt the rains were a dampener).

Of the 40 films shown at NYIFF—35 narrative and five documentary—five features, four documentaries and four shorts will be showcased here. Highway-Ek Selfie Aar Paar (multi-lingual/director Umesh Kulkarni), which was chosen the Best Film at NYIFF, was, appropriately, the inaugural film.

Anuradha, Umesh and Aseem

Present on the occasion was Aseem Chhabra, Director NYIFF, a journalist, who has been associated with the festival from the beginning, Highway star Tisca Chopra (also remembered for Taare Zameen Par) and Kulkarni himself. After a formal function, there was a press interaction, followed by the screening, then Chhabra in conversation with Kulkarni and Tisca, a Q&A, and a reception. It was a small, select crowd, and a warm, late end to the evening.

G5A is named after the address of its premises in the complex. Chairman, Dr. Jagdish Parikh, is Anuradha (Founder-Director and CEO) Parikhs’s father and a former Chairman of the Film Finance Corporation (FFC), predecessor of the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC). Both Jagdish and his older brother Arvind are businessmen of repute (Lee & Muirhead, now Lemuir; Printwell, later Technova; Noema, Allied Pickfords), with cultural and artistic leanings. Arvind, now 88, is a renowned sitarist and a leading disciple of Ustad Vilayat Khan. In the good old days, Jagdish often accompanied Arvind on the tabla. Anuradha produced English August (released 1994) and Split Wide Open (1999), both starring Rahul Bose, under her Tropicfilm banner. She is also celebrated as the designer of Aamir Khan’s home and the Tata Chemicals’ work village, both in Mumbai.

NYIFF has on its Board of Directors Talat Ansari, Legal Counsel, Aroon Shivdasani (a multi-faceted and amazing woman; don’t let the name confuse you) President & Executive Director, Jonathan Hollander, Vice President & Co-Founder, Ambassador Prakash Shah, James Luce and Rajan Shah. It is an initiative of the Indo-American Arts Council (IAAC) Inc., a registered not-for-profit (NPO/NGO), secular service, and resource arts organisation, charged with the mission of promoting and building the awareness, creation, production, exhibition, publication and performance of Indian (increasingly South Asian) and cross-cultural art forms in North America.

The IAAC supports artistic disciplines in the classical, fusion, folk and innovative forms influenced by the arts of India.

IAAC Goals and Objectives are to

• Build an awareness of Indian artistic disciplines in North America.  

• Raise enough money to be able to sponsor artist's activities.   • Function as a central clearing house for funds for artistic disciplines.  

• Present artistic events in the disciplines.  

• Promote and build an interested, aware and educated audience.  

• Act as a service and resource center for Indian art, artists and arts organizations.  

• Compile directories of artists in each of the artistic disciplines.   • Have our own space.  

• Have regular outreach programs to schools and colleges,  

• Encourage young artists to present their work.  

• Create a network for all the various artistic disciplines to share information and ideas.  

• Foster an exchange of artists and arts related information between India and the United States.

We’ll talk a little more about IAAC, Aroon Shivdasani, Aseem Chhabra, Jagdish Parikh, Anuradha and her team, and the films in the package, in another chapter. Meanwhile, if you live in Mumbai, are a cineaste and have not seen the crème de la crème lined-up at G5A, head for Mahalaxmi. Some of these films are even worth a second look. Screenings are held twice a week, and we’ve had two of them already.


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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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