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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. 



RIFF 08, 2022, 13: Synopses of films screened, Part I

RIFF 08, 2022, 13: Synopses of films screened, Part I

(1) Film Name: It Gets in Your Blood

Director : Ed Hartman

“It Gets in Your Blood” is a short documentary by Ed Hartman. The film is about Richard Lyford, a filmmaker who made 9 films before he was 20-years-old, worked for Disney on Fantasia, Dumbo, and Pinocchio, and went on to direct an Academy Award-winning documentary. In spite of all of this, very few know who he is, or why he is important to filmmaking, today.

(2) Film Name  Habikur (Night Visit)

Director: Mya Kaplan

Ruthie spends an unusual night with a guy from her village. After discovering the troubling circumstances that led to their unexpected romantic encounter, she must seek the truth and find her own way to confront him.

(3) Film Name : Pilibhit (The Yellow Wall)

Director : Ashutosh Chaturvedi, Pankaj Mavchi

Inspired from true stories, Siraj, a righteous, impoverished flute maker, resides at the edge of the forests of Pilibhit, North India, where man eating tigers thrive. His mounting livelihood pressures and tragedies corner him to take a drastic measure that threatens to tear down his values and a loved one.

(4) Film Name : Na Jaane Kyun ( Don't Know Why?)

Director : Mayank Pushpam Singh

Synopsis : This story is about collision of two different worlds of burning desire and being completely ignorant about it. Love of our protagonist is hyper real, with hyperbole of being dangerous. In his head he goes through all markers of a relationship-initiation, understanding, appreciating to branding of love.

(5) Film Name : E-Rickshawali 2021

Director : Ruhi aka Rohini Hak

An all women crew took this challenge of telling this powerful story inspired by real events of this brave young girl struggling in a patriarchal society. When one human selflessly empowers the other to thrive independently amidst gender bias and human rights violations, it is the essence of humanity at play. A story of a young girl to inspire all to give more and look beyond our backyards as we all live life in this era of chaos that we are facing with climate change, pandemic & global economic upheaval. An empowered crew of women took this chance to bring to the screen a story based on real events where a woman was in reality saved from abuse and empowered to stand up stronger. A 20 yr old girl dresses up

as a boy and drives an e-rickshaw in the historic streets of Delhi to be safe and fend for her family. She meets a stranger and then her life takes an erratic turn. For better or worse? OR is it the stranger that has a reality shift. Get on the front seat of this bumpy yet enjoyable ride with the amazing Voice over of Padma Shri Manoj Joshi, weaving in the story through the cinematic authentic locales of Delhi and its monuments- Life will never be the same when you leave home From Hopelessness to Hope is a beautifully profound journey. As the narrator aptly says " Keep your eyes & heart open, as you never know who you bump into that would be a ray of Hope in your life". Inspired by real people these stories and voices just have to be heard. The protagonist was donated a fully paid Rickshaw so she doesn't get beaten up by the previous owner and we hope she gets more support as the story spreads and can to study and find her brother one day...

(6) Film Name : Ancient Lover

Director : Banjii & Mayuri

Ancient Lover is the second installment of this music video series which explores their origin story. On one hand, they are the same. They are the same age, they moved to the same neighborhood at the same time and suffered similar love related setbacks in life including going through a divorce. On the other hand, growing up, the entire world literally existed in between them... one in the US, the other in India. One pursued a career in music, the other in business. Yin. Yang. Left brain. Right brain. Thinking. Feeling. Ancient Lover is based on their true intercultural, interracial, international love story. Banjii & Mayuri would like their story to inspire people of all ages and backgrounds to discover the artists and lovers within each of their spirits.

(7) Film Name : Princes and Vagabonds

Director : Fabienne Le Houérou

Princes and Vagabonds is an ethnographic film. Directed by Fabienne Le Houerou. It takes place in Rajasthan (Thar desert in India) and explores the community of Manganiar musicians and their musical identity and migrations. Identified as an untouchable "cast" of Vagabonds by the Brahmins and high castes, these Sufi Muslim musicians are also considered as Sultans of Music and stand at the crossroads of different spiritualities and plural worlds.

(8) Film Name : EK RAJPUT KISAN The Real Story

Director : Dr. Bhawani Singh Rathore & Rohit Guptaa

This documentary film is based on the real story of farmer Thakur Ummed Singh Rathore, where it tells how he adopted the farming instead Govt. job passing through various struggles in his life. Film also tells how he supports other farmers in the village. Major life threatening incidents are also shown in the film. Contribution of her wife Smt. Gopal Kanwar in farming & other social works is also shown. This documentary is very inspirational for youth & farmer community. Film produced by Shilpee Ranawat of Kriti Productions & Directed by Mr. Rohit Guptaa & Dr. Bhawani Singh Rathore.

(9) Film Name : Ek Duaa (A Prayer)

Director : Ram Kamal Mukherjee

Ek Duaa is set in the heartland of Mumbai, deals with the life of Abida, a mother of two beautiful kids Duaa and Faiz. Her husband Sulemaan is a taxi driver who somehow manages to run the house after borrowing money from lenders. A day prior to Eid, the family gears up for celebration, but something is amiss. There seems to be some discrimination between the two kids, as Abida's mother in law Rihana and husband Sulemaan shows their affinity towards the boy child, while little Duaa keeps craving for love. Barring Abida, no one really cares for her in the house. As the film unfolds we reveal the reason behind the discrimination between the kids.

(10) Film Name : Shubho Bijoya

Director : Ram Kamal Mukherjee

What happens when you fall in love? You feel happy, you feel liberated, right? But what happens when you fall in love with the same person twice in life? You don't know? Exactly! Something happens in the story. When famous photographer Shubho fell in love with supermodel Bijoya, they knew that they were made for each other. And they were indeed. Bijoya loved him like crazy and he couldn't see beyond Bijoya. But then, all love stories are not made in fairy land. Bijoya is diagnosed with skin cancer, a disease which she wants to hide. She knows her career will be over and she will die soon. But her biggest fear is to reveal the truth to her husband, who might not be able to take this shock. Even before she could reveal her story, Shubho meets with a major car accident and loses his eyesight. This is followed by many dramatic sequences that leads to the climax of the movie. Will they be able to fall in love again with their individual limitations? Will they be able to win against all odds? This is a poetic tribute to O Henry's most talked about short story, Gift of Magi. The film brings the most loved on screen couple of Indian television Gurmeet Choudhury and Debina Bonnerjee back after 11. This is their first feature film, as a couple.

(11) Film Name : Gagan (Sky)

Director : Brijesh Kakodker

The film talks about broken relationship between father and son.

(12) Film Name : Masanada Hoovu (Flower of a Graveyard)

Director : Amar L

Masana – a graveyard, to most people is a place for the dead. However, it is home to other lesser fortunate ones. Hoovu – a flower. A young & innocent kid is like a flower in the blooming. A kid and his mother live near a graveyard. When the mother becomes bed ridden due to severe health issues, the kid is faced with a challenge beyond his age. Having seen his mother sell flowers, he finds it as a means to earn. However, he hides from her the fact about picking garlands & flowers offered to the dead ones at the graveyard. The killer hunger wins. The mother upon learning this is heartbroken.

MASANADA HOOVU captures this “journey of a graveyard flower” along with the kids’ hardships.

Through a bitter-sweet ending, life comes a full circle at the very graveyard in a surprising way.

(13) Film Name : Dahanam

Director : Adari Murthy Sai

The name Dahanam in English is combustion, with a tag line of an act of purification. Three main characters in this film are 1) the stubborn, egoistic, rich village head. 2) a head priest which is a devotee with rigid beliefs. 3) a happy go lucky attitude crematorium under taker. the story revolves around social inequalities, adamant beliefs and innocent lives. The story ends with realisation, sacrifice and social reform.

(14) Film Name : Tired Heart

Director : Kritesh Agarwal

While facing various problems in such a young age, Samaira becomes so disconnected with the reality and beauty of the world. Her subconscious takes over at such an extent that, being alone in the house is also not what she feels. Throughout the movie, she is in a conversation with death and trying to make up her mind about leaving this world and dying, discovering various ways of taking up her own life, shows how she is really into a trauma. Due to the domestic violence, the physical and mental harassment she is facing because of which she is struggling throughout her life and is willing to leave as soon as possible.

(15) Film Name : AIYAI Wrathful Soul - Wrath Of Souls

Director : Ilanthirayan Alan Arumugam

AIYAI tells the story of a neighborhood that is plagued by mysterious tragedies when a young man becomes the conduit for an unknown spirit that lures victims to their chilling fates.

(16) Film Name : MMMMM Sound of Pain

Director : Vijeesh Mani

This film is about a traditional honey gatherer who belongs to "Kurumba" tribe. He goes through hard times because of the dwindling availability of honey from the forest because of the climate change. This leads him to the utter frustration and he loses his mind slowly. In his hallucinations he sees his girl child who has passed away years ago, as a honey bee. He keeps seeing her whenever he goes inside the forest and they talk about the honey bees and their problems. In the meantime, he happens to help a revolutionary who is wanted by the cops, which put him and his family in a very right corner. The discussions with his imaginary " Honey bee" changes him for good but in the end when the honey bee dies in his imagination, he loses all his hope of purposes and he commits suicide on a cell phone tower with a message, " Save Honeybees". This film has been shot in "Kurumba tribal language, which is first time, a film is made in that language.

(17) Film Name : Operation Java

Director : Tharun Moorthy

Antony and Vinayadasan, two unemployed B Tech graduates gets an opportunity to be aTemporary part of the Kerala Cyber cell. The cases they are assigned to be part of starts to make them understand the issues, a common man has to face in the country. When their professional goals starts to take a round and mock at their entire reason to be at the cyber cell, they finally face the harsh realities of the system.

(18) Film Name : Piya Milan Rut Aayi Re...

Director : Pankaj Rao & Ankit Agarwal

Piya Milan Rut Aayi Re, is a traditional wedding song and its sung by Monika Sharma & Pankaj Rao under the banner of Ganesha Entertainments.

(19) Film Name : Say it Thrice

Director : Kautuk Saksena

A particle physicist, Manan, when faced with a research deadline starts to study a friendlyholistic healer and his mysterious method to heal people. Amidst the turbulence in his life and as a last resort he decides to dive deep into the healer’s method. It takes him into a bizarre reality, where he experiences his highest bliss and his lowest torment. The extreme pressure forces out the truth in his life…

(20) Film Name : Aata

Director : Hemant Seervi

The film Atta is the struggle story of a married couple (bhaira & phoolan) who are punished by the society due to inter-caste marriage that no one will give them jobs and food from the village. In the end, dying of hunger, when Phoolan goes to ask for flour for one time for her little daughter, everyone tries to force her to sleep with them in return for job. Film shows the impact of inter caste marriage and cruel side of society.

(21) Film Name : The Portraits

Director : Dr Bijukumar Damodaran

The Portraits" is a collection of six cinematic sketches that depict the various means of social

and environmental issues

(22) Film Name : Creatures Forgotten To Dance

Director : Prudhu

A teenage girl from a male privileged family in rural kerala gets caught by her brother while  she’s having a personal physical space with her lover.. then, she is thrown to contemplate and act on her own freedom…

(23) Film Name : Silver Hair Still Rocks

Director : Andrea Rüthlein, Matthias Lukoschek

More than 50 years ago a handful of people discovered the idyllic beaches in the Indian state of Goa. They were dropouts from the commercialised world who found their Eden there. Until today this international community unites uniquely exciting and even crazy biographies of which "Love, Peace and Freedom" is their motto. The eyewitnesses trace a world of new beginnings, a world full of freedom, lust and, above all, spirituality. Although much has changed in Goa the hippie freaks and local people still make the special spirit of Goa noticeable, a spirit that cannot be found anywhere else in the world except in Goa.

This is the first of two parts of the synopses of the films shown at the 8th Rajasthan International Film Festival, 25-30 March, 2022. The synopses are reproduced as received, with minor corrections and some formatting.


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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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