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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. 



Trailer launch of Om, The Battle Within: One man, three wars

Trailer launch of Om, The Battle Within: One man, three wars

Choreographer-director Ahmed Khan, who is adept at directing action as well, takes on the twin roles of co-producer and action designer, in the upcoming movie Om: The Battle Within, the trailer of which was released yesterday at the Juhu PVR multiplex. Present on the occasion were Khan himself, his better half Shaira Khan (co-producer), Shariq Patel (of Zee Studios, which is a co-producer as well as the worldwide distributor of the film), director Kapil Verma, and the two lead actors, Aditya Roy Kapur and Sanjana Sanghi.

Proceedings began more than an hour late, and the trailer was screened twice, as is the norm. After a round of questions put to the team by Nitin Kakkar, the compère, the floor was open to questions from the media. Answering questions from this writer, Sanjana said that the action sequences did not pose much of a problem, since she has some fighting spirit in her genes. “My father is a black belt in karaté,” she revealed. “But I am scared of explosions. Often, I would run away when there were explosions, and there were scenes when I actually went out of the frame, causing problems to the helicopter unit.” Three feature films, beginning with Rockstar in 2011, when she was 13-14 years old, and two cameos later, Sanjana is all set for her big action movie, and provides a counter-point to the mean machine that is played by Aditya Roy Kapur.

Aditya, who is eleven years Sanjana’s senior, is donning a new avatar too. Hitherto known for his romantic roles, the actor debuted in 2009, with London Dreams. Along the way, he starred in Action, Kalank, Malang, Sadak 2 and Ludo. This is the first time he is doing an action film, with his shirt removed and rippling muscles on display. The poster had a very angry Aditya in a war-cry mode, wielding a huge gun that showers bullets by the dozen. A fellow journalist asked, “Where did you get that anger from? Who is it directed at?” He replied, “As actors, we often have to dig into our past to come up with expressions that do not come naturally to us. This was one such scene. I jogged my memory and came up with a person who had made me really angry. Of course, I will not tell who that person was.”

Going by the trailer, there is a track of Om (Aditya) losing his memory (a trope), vowing to clear his father’s name of a sedition charge, and his fight against enemies of the country. Director Kapil Verma would not tell which of these elements was the predominant theme. “To find out, you will have to come to the cinemas on or after 01 July, and see for yourself.” On the question of choosing Sanjana to be paired with Aditya, a rather unexpected choice, he said, “From the very beginning, I had this gut feeling that she was the right choice for the role. Yes, she has not done anything like this before, but after seeing her earlier work, I was convinced that she would deliver.”

Producer Ahmed Khan was more forthcoming about the narrative of the film. “There are three battles being fought. The first is Om fighting his memory loss. The second is his crusade to clear his father’s name of being a traitor and the third is his campaign to deal with enemies of the nation. But remember, the film is not just about Adi and Sanjana. There are several other veteran actors who bring a lot to the table, like Jackie Shroff (who plays the hero’s disgraced father), Ashutosh Rana, Prachi Shah and Prakash Raj.” Khan also gave all due credit to his writers, Akshat R. Saluja and Niket Pandey, whom he called on stage to join the team and pose for photographs.

In spite of Khan’s assertion, one gets the feel that action might be the key in Om: The Battle Within. Firstly, Ahmed Khan himself is an action-choreography veteran, who is credited with Action Design in the film. Secondly, Parvez Sheikh, the Action Director, is one of the best in the business (War, Prithviraj, Brahmastra, Shamshera). Thirdly, Kapil Verma, from the well-known Verma family of action directors, brings his own experience. A cinematographer too, he started his career in 2002 with the movie Karz - The Burden, an action drama. Since then, he has worked on films like Ra One, A Wednesday, Baaghi 3, Housefull 4, Kabir Singh.

At first look, the film appears to be one more vehicle trying to chart the territory of religious fervour (‘Om’ is a play on the word which is the basic religious chant of Hindus, and is said to have great potency) and ultra-nationalism, with plot points like amnesia, clearing a father’s soiled name, and the obligatory female interest, to push it along. How these elements jell, only time will tell. A Paper Doll Entertainment Production, On: The Battle Within opens on 01 July 2022.

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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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