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Siraj Syed


Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for FilmFestivals.com 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. 

 

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Angrezi Medium, Review: Crazy Tedium

Angrezi Medium, Review: Crazy Tedium Three years ago, Maddock Films gave us a slice-of-life entertainer called Hindi Medium. ‘Medium’ here referred to the language, the medium of instruction in school education. It was just passably humorous yet proved more popular than expected, garnering a few awards as well. A follow-up went into development soon afterwards, repeating its lead actor Irrfan Khan. Though still to recover completely, Irrfan is back in Maddock’s Angrezi (Engl...

18th Third Eye Asian Film Festival, III

18th Third Eye Asian Film Festival, III Iran bagged two of the four prizes in the best short fiction films category at the 18th Third Eye Asian Film Festival (TEAFF), including the most coveted First Prize. The second prize went to an Indian entry, while the third prize was shared between an Iranian and an Indian film. Over the years, Iranian films have regularly made their mark at TEAFF, and there is always a strong presence of films from Iran, whether features or shorts. Here are the winne...

18th Third Eye Asian Film Festival, II

18th Third Eye Asian Film Festival, II Six films were short-listed for the Best Asian Woman Film-maker Award at the 18th Third Eye Asian Film Festival (TEAFF): An Unfairy Tale/Maadathi, 2019, Tamil, 90 min, Director: Leena Manimekalai; Mystic Memoir, 2019, Bengali, 77 minutes, Director: Aparajita Ghosh; The Taste from Happy Island, 2019, China, 90 min, Director: Lai Xueyi; Stories@8/Kathaah@8, 2019, multilingual, Singapore, 90 mins, Director: Shilpa Krishnan Shukla; Dithee, 2019, Marathi, 86 ...

18th Third Eye Asian Film Festival, I

18th Third Eye Asian Film Festival, I Organised by the Asian Film Foundation and P.L. Deshpande Maharashtra Kala Academy, the 18th Third Eye Asian Film Festival (TEAFF) has just concluded. Held during March 1-6, at the Mini-Theatre, located on the third floor of the Ravindra Natya Mandir Complex, Prabhadevi, Mumbai, the festival screened films in six slots each day. Paani, in Marathi language, directed by Adinath Kothare, was the inaugural film while Mai Ghaat, also in Marathi, directed by An...

Baaghi 3, Review: Rebel without a pause

Baaghi 3, Review: Rebel without a pause Meaning ‘rebel’ in Urdu, Baaghi 3 showcases the muscular machismo, kicking quotient and airborne acrobatics of the loose cannon called Tiger Shroff. He first takes on petty thugs and eve-teasers, then murderers and people smugglers and finally the most dreaded terrorist organisation in Syria, nay, it is claimed, the whole world! His own voice-over at the end credits these escapades as the outcome of being a rebel. And does this rebel have a ...

19th Annual Transmedia Gujarati Screen & Stage Awards

19th Annual Transmedia Gujarati Screen & Stage Awards Started in 2002, the Annual Transmedia Gujarati Screen (film and television) & Stage Awards held its 19th edition on 29th February 2020 at the V Hotel, Juhu, Mumbai. On the occasion, the best of Gujarati film and drama talent on display in the calendar year 2019 was awarded. Special awards and lifetime achievement awards were also distributed to a host of luminaries present at the open air venue. The event was sponsored by Gujarat ...

Onward, Review: Upward, downward, northward, southward, eastward, westward, and afterward

Onward, Review: Upward, downward, northward, southward, eastward, westward, and afterward A potpourri of various elements found across several genres, animation giants Disney and Pixar’s Onward is good fun while it lasts. The film uses motivational and familial themes to string together a tale of an era wherein everything modern co-exists with almost everything mythical and magical. It stretches your imagination to some limits, but once you set your disbelief to the required frequency o...

Har Kisse Ke Hisse Kaamyaab, Review: Many parts, many holes, no whole, no soul

Har Kisse Ke Hisse Kaamyaab, Review: Many parts, many holes, no whole, no soul In one scene of Har Kisse Ke Hisse Kaamyaab, the protagonist, an actor who goes under the screen name of Sudheer, cannot get his lines right, because he has not had a swig of his favourite brew, and gives retake after retake. We see him do seven/eight retakes, after which, mercifully, the film-maker goes into a montage, with only music, after which it is revealed that he had given as many as 32 retakes. Mercifully,...

Guns of Banaras, Review: Where are the bullets?

Guns of Banaras, Review: Where are the bullets? When Nathalia Kaur, who was born Nathalia Pinheiro Felipe Martins, in Brazil, appears in the credit titles as the lead actress in probably her first Hindi heroine assignment, and Karann Nathh, son of producer and star-secretary ‘Rikku’ Rakeshnath, 37, who had worked in Yeh Dil Aashiqana, Ssshhh... and Tera Kya Hoga Johnny, makes a come-back after 12 years, your curiosity is aroused. It is further fuelled by the belief that this must ...

Thappad, Review: This slap is going to cost you dear

Thappad, Review: This slap is going to cost you dear A simple, significant, timely and relevant story line might be too thin to stretch into a full-length movie. Having settled for such a plot, the options would include spreading the narrative thinly across the pages of a tight screenplay, or padding it up with sub-plots and characters that might not be vital to the theme. Thappad (Slap) opts for the latter choice, and, in the process, dilutes its impact. What emerges is a well-made film that...

Bhoot, the Haunted Ship-Part I, Review: Scares are scarce

Bhoot, the Haunted Ship-Part I, Review: Scares are scarce Considering the negligible number of ghost stories being made in India, Bhoot, the Haunted Ship-Part I, made by names Dharma and ZEE, would have been a film to look forward to. It turns-up with a mixed bag, offering more mix than bag. Firstly, the title is a giveaway, for we already know that there is going to be a ship and that it will be haunted. Secondly, the film plays totally safe, in catering to both kinds of audiences—thos...

Brahms the Boy II, Review: Let sleeping dolls lie

Brahms the Boy II, Review: Let sleeping dolls lie A potentially scary movie that does not scare you loses all meaning. Avoiding tropes should not mean doing away with horrible goings on almost altogether. Brahms the Boy II is about a living doll (with apologies to Cliff Richard) that performs all its super-natural feats off camera, barring one or two, and that takes away the fear factor. Most of the film has a logically progressing narrative, but one that holds little interest to audiences wh...

Shukranu-Hui Emotion ki Nasbandi, Review: Tale of forced sterilisations lacks potency

Shukranu-Hui Emotion ki Nasbandi, Review: Tale of forced sterilisations lacks potency In modern Indian history, the Internal Emergency, proclaimed in 1975 and in place for about two years, is regarded as a highly controversial phase. During this period, buses and trains ran on time, attendance in government establishments increased astronomically, corruption was all but eliminated and prices of a host of essential commodities were controlled. But all this was accompanied by curbs on freedom o...

Fantasy Island, Review: Risks submersion

Fantasy Island, Review: Risks submersion Inspired is equal measure by two incompatible sources as divergent as Agatha Christie and the U.S.S.R. film Solaris, Fantasy Island plays deep desires against harsh realities in an implausible tale that is part vendetta, part science fiction and part psychic phenomena. There are too many back-stories and unexplained events, as a result of which the movie gets bogged down. In the end, you will make sense of it only if you stop analysing or questioning t...

Love Aaj Kal 2020, Review: 141 minutes of messy, moronic, melodramatic mishmash

Love Aaj Kal 2020, Review: 141 minutes of messy, moronic, melodramatic mishmash What do you do when that elusive commodity called plot decides to stay clear of your net? You dig into your archives and find a film that you think lends itself to building a sequel. You also pay a visit to the Hollywood classic which helped you spawn another set of two films, the first a charmer, the second that should have been much warmer. And so, from the stable that gave us Jab We Met, Love Aaj Kal 2009 and J...

MIFF 2020: “There is no wishing the digital revolution away”

MIFF 2020: “There is no wishing the digital revolution away” IDPA held its sixth and final Open Forum, a regular fixture at every MIFF, on the lawns of the FD Complex, on Sunday, 02 February. An eminent panel of speakers put forth their thoughts and ideas on the subject, ‘Digital Revolution: Is it helping film-makers?’ They comprised Amit Tyagi, Associate Director, MIT-ADT University, Pune, and former Dean of FTII, Balkrishna Diwakar, Former Professor, Jamia Millia, Cy...

MIFF 2020: The torch-bearers of Indian animation

MIFF 2020: The torch-bearers of Indian animation A protégé of the legendary animator Ram Mohan, who passed away recently, Chetan Sharma has curated an exhibition as an homage to his Guru, and two other of his Guru’s contemporary masters, who also left for their heavenly within short spans of each other. The exhibition, titled The Torch-bearers of Indian Animation, which is dedicated to V.G. Samant and BhimSain too, is located in the basement of the NMIC building. &ldquo...

MIFF 2020, Open Forum 4: “Films that don’t obey trends are experimental”—Michael Dudok de Wit

MIFF 2020, Open Forum 4: “Films that don’t obey trends are experimental”—Michael Dudok de Wit On Saturday, 01 February, IDPA’s Open Forum moved on to Animation, dealing with Experimental Animation and its Impact on Mainstream. A cross-section of animation talent formed the panel, local and international, professional and student, beginners and Oscar winners. The session was moderated by IDPA member Ms. Dhvani Desai, a science+management double graduate and an awa...

MIFF 2020: “Why can’t we appreciate off-camera sounds?”—B. Lenin

MIFF 2020: “Why can’t we appreciate off-camera sounds?”—B. Lenin Son of legendary director-editor A. Bhimsingh, B. Lenin started his editing career at the age of 18, in 1965. But guess what he wanted to become as a young boy? A projectionist! Why? Read on. “I am one of eight siblings and saw very little of my father as a child, because he used to work around twenty hours a day. When he came home, sometimes at 4 am, I would ask my mother who this man was. We ch...

MIFF 2020, Open Forum 3: “Crowd-funding comes from your own sources”

MIFF 2020, Open Forum 3: “Crowd-funding comes from your own sources” For its third Open Forum, Indian Documentary Producers’ Association (IDPA) chose a topic that captured the fancy of several veteran and newbie documentary-makers, ‘Crowd Funding’. A four-member panel presented their thoughts, views and experiences, while Aditya Seth (Vice-President, IDPA) moderated. Panelists comprised cinematographer-director Priyanka Singh, Wishberry partner Anshulika Dubey, d...

Shikara-- The Untold Story of Kashmiri Pandits, Review: Paradise lost

Shikara-- The Untold Story of Kashmiri Pandits, Review: Paradise lost A hot potato by any yard-stick, the plight of Kashmir Pandits, who were forced to leave the strife-torn land of Kashmir to live in Jammu or other parts of India, was always going to pose a challenge to film. Vidhu Vinod Chopra, a Kashmiri himself, is among the Hindi film industry’s most renowned film-makers. He bases the narrative of Shikara on true stories, but fictionalises it enough to meet the demands of the mediu...

Malang, Review: Why knot when you cannot unknot?

Malang, Review: Why knot when you cannot unknot? Six cops, a serial cop killer, a wandering maiden, a Swedish female drug peddler and a sexually starved wife form the core dramatis personae of Malang, a crime-vendetta-whodunit tale that comes with a misleading title. Malang can mean many things, all of them associated with detached, saintly, carefree, Sufi and seer type individuals, often seen as wandering minstrels. You will have to test the elasticity of your imagination in order to co-rela...

RIFF 2020: Winners all

RIFF 2020: Winners all Below is the complete list of award-winners at the 6th Rajasthan International Film Festival (RIFF), Jaipur, January 18-22, 2020. The distribution ceremony was held at the Jawahar Kala Kendra. It was announced at the end of the awards function that the 7th RIFF will be not be held in Jaipur, but in another city of Rajasthan. Sources confirm that this was being done to avoid clashing with the other film festival, which is held parallel to RIFF, the Jaipur International F...

MIFF 2020: A lost homeland land and a new home

MIFF 2020: A lost homeland land and a new home Eight years and eighty lakhs is what it took USA-based music-video maker Sapna Bhavnani to make Sindhustan, 64-minute a labour of love, about the largest migration in history, that of Hindu Sindhis from Sind, now in Pakistan, to present day India. By contrast, Atanu Mukherjee’s 26-minute tale of a migrant single woman from Jabalpur who wants to settle in Mumbai, and her encounters with a transgender person, titled Wig, took just three days ...

MIFF 2020, Open Forum 2: “Viewers are willing to pay for docu content”

MIFF 2020, Open Forum 2: “Viewers are willing to pay for docu content” Documentaries rarely provide investment returns, let alone earning profits. But that is about to change, or has it changed already? This was discussed on Day 2 of the Open Forum, organised by the Indian Documentary Producers’ Association (IDPA), under the topic, ‘Generating Avenues and Creating Revenues.’ Moderated by Ravi Iyer (Executive Committee Member, IDPA), the panel consisted of Manika ...

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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 FilmFestivals.com 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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