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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, Munich
Festival Correspondent, Film-critic, Feature-writer

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Maatr (The Mother) uncensored, Review by Siraj Syed: She will kill at will

Maatr (The Mother) uncensored, Review by Siraj Syed: She will kill at will Lead actress Raveena Tandon told the media that, in Maatr, “We have just shown 10 percent of what a woman has to deal with when such a thing happens with her.” ‘Such a thing’ that she was referring to is gang rape. Sure enough, the film landed in trouble before the Central Board of Film Certification (CFBC), the Indian body that has to approve every film before it is released. I have had privile...

Félicité, Review by Siraj Syed: Cinema réalité

Félicité, Review by Siraj Syed: Cinema réalité Challenging forms and formats, genres and categories, Félicité agitates your mind by showing too much of some things and too little of other elements. It begins as an indictment of the colonial legacy in Congo but ends up becoming a slave to its repetitive shot-taking and sombre imagery. Too much is promised and just about much is delivered. Nevertheless, Félicité is going to be talked about...

Siraj Syed conducts the first ever interview of writer-director Hank Orion (Despair, 2017)

Siraj Syed conducts the first ever interview of writer-director Hank Orion (Despair, 2017) Hank Orion migrated to Italy from Ukraine with his mother, at the age of 9. He had been showing interest in cinema since a very early age, and wrote his first ‘screenplay’ at the age of 12.There, Hank focussed on writing, primarily, and by the age of 16, he had written several feature film screenplays and short stories. Later, Hank studied painting at the Liceo Artistico Statale ‘Fois...

Despair, Exclusive first-ever review, by Siraj Syed: Performances dispel the gloom in this psycho thriller

Despair, Exclusive first-ever review, by Siraj Syed: Performances dispel the gloom in this psycho thriller Being humane can cost you dear could be one take away from the indie psychological thriller, Despair. Disjointed families and obsession can kill, as had been demonstrated by so many films of yore, and this could have been one more for the record, had it not been for the other take away: sympathy and empathy are the cornerstones of love, and even if you have to pay a heavy price for nurtu...

Zikr Tera, CD Album review, by Siraj Syed: Cadence and decadence, allusion and illusion

Zikr Tera, CD Album review, by Siraj Syed: Cadence and decadence, allusion and illusion Film playback singer, musician and ghazal exponent RoopKumar Rathod partners life -partner Sunali on an eight-track journey that is full of lament and pathos, allusion and illusion, called Zikr Tera (‘your mention’, in Urdu). More ethereal than earthy, it caters to an elite audience, and the senior citizens among them, at that. There are things to admire and things to comment upon, along the wa...

Smurfs-The Lost Village, Review by Siraj Syed: Tidal waves and tiny caves

Smurfs-The Lost Village, Review by Siraj Syed: Tidal waves and tiny caves Smurfy’s Law: The Forbidden Forest is the forbidden forest, and there’s good reason for the entry ban—you might not come back alive. After watching the latest Smurf movie, you will not only get back alive, but happy and bemused. If you belong to the under 12 age-group, you might even enjoy the thrills and frills much more than your older brethren. The Lost Village (third in the Smurfs franchise) is ne...

The Zookeeper’s Wife, Review by Siraj Syed: Of animals, animal instincts and humanity above all

The Zookeeper’s Wife, Review by Siraj Syed: Of animals, animal instincts and humanity above all A wife, a husband their zoo and the Jews. Unlikely ingredients of a film seen by us critics on the eve of Hitler’s birthday. And yet, The Zookeeper’s Wife movie survives some uneven narrative and unimaginative camerawork to settle down into a compelling, if understated, holocaust tale that more than deserves a cursory viewing. It begins as The Life of Pi, moves on to join Schindle...

Siraj Syed talks to film-maker, cinematographer Chanda Gauranga, about indie LIF

Siraj Syed talks to film-maker, cinematographer Chanda Gauranga, about indie LIF What is your family back-ground and how did the idea of LIF germinate? I was born and brought up in Chennai along with my three siblings. My mother is a story-teller and a writer. I grew up listening to and being amazed by my mother's tales and in a way wanted to spread the same awe and amazement I felt when listening to her stories. Moreover, my father and his father have always been very camera passionate....

Siraj Syed interviews Mumbai-based, under 23, prolific, short film-maker, S. Ashwin

Siraj Syed interviews Mumbai-based, under 23, prolific, short film-maker, S. Ashwin *You have been prolific in output. How many films have you made since you completed your studies a couple of years ago, and what/who made it possible to make so many? I have made 29 short films till now. My love for film-making and the conviction I have to keep making them has made it possible for me to have a large number of films to my credit today. Apart from that, my parents have been a great support--the...

Siraj Syed covers CommunicAsia 2017, Singapore: Pre-event, 03: Rohit Talwar and FastFuture

Siraj Syed covers CommunicAsia 2017, Singapore: Pre-event, 03: Rohit Talwar and FastFuture Rohit Talwar, Owner and CEO, Fast Future Research, since 1999, will be delivering this year’s CommunicAsia2017 Summit Visionary Address titled “Artificial Intelligence vs. Genuine Stupidity – Navigating Exponential Technologies to Create a Very Human Future”. The event will he held this year from the 23rd to the 25th of May, and will host key speakers and exhibitors featuring the...

Aamir, Nasir, Tahir, Tariq, Mansoor, Amjad: Movies, Masti, Modernity, Flashback 10: Aamir

Aamir, Nasir, Tahir, Tariq, Mansoor, Amjad: Movies, Masti, Modernity, Flashback 10: Aamir To remind you, Aamir is indeed Aamir Khan, Amjad is definitely Gabbar Singh, and the triple M above is to acknowledge that it was Akshay Manwani’s biographical book on the cinema of Nasir Hussain that got me delving into the period of about 15 years, when I interacted with the Hussain Khans (first five) and the bare Khan (last, but the most imposing personality). Actually, Mansoor did not use his m...

Aamir, Nasir, Tahir, Tariq, Mansoor, Amjad: Movies, Masti, Modernity, Flashback 9

Aamir, Nasir, Tahir, Tariq, Mansoor, Amjad: Movies, Masti, Modernity, Flashback 9 To remind you, Aamir is indeed Aamir Khan, Amjad is definitely Gabbar Singh, and the triple M above is to acknowledge that it was Akshay Manwani’s biographical book on the cinema of Nasir Hussain that got me delving into the period of about 15 years, when I interacted with the Hussain Khans (first five) and the bare Khan (last, but the most imposing personality). Actually, Mansoor did not use his middle na...

Mirza Juuliet, Review by Siraj Syed: ‘Sex peer’ or Shakespeare

Mirza Juuliet, Review by Siraj Syed: ‘Sex peer’ or Shakespeare Six timeless tales of doomed love continue to enjoy tremendous popularity in India, even in the 21st century: Laila-Majnu, Shirin-Farhad, Sohni-Mahiwal, Heer-Ranjha, Mirza-Sahibaa and Romeo and Juliet. Of these, five are Indian or from the sub-continent and only Shakespeare’s R&J makes it from the foreign category. India had its own Shakespeare, named Agha Hashr Kashmiri, who in the period 1920s-50s, transla...

Blue Mountains, Review by Siraj Syed: Colourless Molehills

Blue Mountains, Review by Siraj Syed: Colourless Molehills Used as a metaphor for distance, apparently unattainable goals, the Blue Mountains of the title prove as elusive and illusory as the real ones the makers project on screen. Lots of colour, lots of singing, lots of dancing, lots of melodrama, and lots of snow do not help Blue Mountains attain any height. Instead, we find ourselves in a cave, at best, or, rather, a gorge. Som (Yatharth Rastogi), a hill-town boy, and part of a gang of f...

Colossal, Review by Siraj Syed: Loss all

Colossal, Review by Siraj Syed: Loss all Colossal loses big on two counts: It appears to have several allegorical, illusionary hidden agendas, and it goes about framing them in minimalistic, over-simplified montage. There is always a grave risk in making a socio-political commentary using metaphors like video games and giant monsters/robots, and the risk involves alienating (pun intended) both classes of audiences—the superhero aficionados, and the intelligentsia film-goers. Colossal no...

Mukti Bhawan review, by Siraj Syed: Pulsating, Soulful, Lively tale, of Death

Mukti Bhawan review, by Siraj Syed: Pulsating, Soulful, Lively tale, of Death Mukti is Hindi for release or detachment, and Bhawan is home or mansion. Don’t wait too long after Mukti Bhawan is released in the nearest mansion (cinema hall). And do yourself a favour: Don’t die till you have seen this film about death. A sublime blend of realism and metaphor, Mukti Bhawan is ostensibly the tale of an old man who wants to move to the ‘dying quarters’ in the city of Banara...

Siraj Syed interviews young film-maker Pratik Rajen Kothari

Siraj Syed interviews young film-maker Pratik Rajen Kothari *How many films have you made since your student days and what/who made it possible to make them? I have made three short films plus co-directed one before Hell O Hello. I also made some music videos. Almost all of these are zero/extremely low budget. At the start, people who are instrumental in making it possible are your like-minded friends. I have a very co-operative core team, without whom, I just wouldn't have had the coura...

Aamir, Nasir, Tahir, Tariq, Mansoor, Amjad: Movies, Masti, Modernity, Flashback 8

Aamir, Nasir, Tahir, Tariq, Mansoor, Amjad: Movies, Masti, Modernity, Flashback 8 To remind you, Aamir is indeed Aamir Khan, Amjad is definitely Gabbar Singh, and the triple M above is to acknowledge that it was Akshay Manwani’s biographical book on the cinema of Nasir Hussain that got me delving into the period of about 15 years, when I interacted with the Hussain Khans (first five) and the bare Khan (last, but the most imposing personality). Actually, Mansoor did not use his middle na...

BroadcastAsia 2017, I

BroadcastAsia 2017, I At BroadcastAsia 2017, May 23-25, Singapore, major brands and solution providers will be showcasing their latest products in the fields of cinematography and film production.  Among the products to be showcased are: G-TECHNOLOGY A transportable, hardware RAID, 8-Bay Thunderbolt™ 2 solution, offering content creators colossal capacity and high definition performance. Designed to support multi-stream 4K workflows and beyond, the G-SPEED Shuttle XL can be confi...

Boss Baby review by Siraj Syed: These guys sure have bawls!

The Boss Baby review by Siraj Syed: These guys sure have bawls! Cutie cutie. Coochie coochie. Cooey cooey. Too muchy muchy! Fun, funny. Listen, honey, it’s ‘Big brother’ v/s Baby brother. Baby Corp v/s Puppy Corp. It’s a gooey gooey, gagaey gagaey mess of gawpaw, but so adorable, aw. Aw-struck. Amazing animation. Hilarious declamation. A good outing for the vacation. Calling all babies, baby brothers and sisters, parents, baby-sitters, corporate ladder-climbers, carto...

Aamir, Nasir, Tahir, Tariq, Mansoor, Amjad: Movies, Masti, Modernity, Flashback 7

Aamir, Nasir, Tahir, Tariq, Mansoor, Amjad: Movies, Masti, Modernity, Flashback 7 To remind you, Aamir is indeed Aamir Khan, Amjad is definitely Gabbar Singh, and the triple M above is to acknowledge that it was Akshay Manwani’s biographical book on the cinema of Nasir Hussain that got me delving into the period of about 15 years, when I interacted with the Hussain Khans (first five) and the bare Khan (last, but the most imposing personality). Actually, Mansoor did not use his middle na...

Siraj Syed reviews Anaarkali of Arrah: Item girl--“Spite ’em girl, Bite ’em girl”

Siraj Syed reviews Anaarkali of Arrah: Item girl--“Spite ’em girl, Bite ’em girl” Ten minutes into this loud and raw film, you know you will root for the protagonist, an item girl plying her art in Arrah, a small town in the eastern Indian state of Bihar. An item girl is a woman who wears garish costumes, sings, dances, cavorts, titillates and tantalises on stage, to a public, sing-along audience, that joins her full-of-double-entendre lyrics, lusts after her and drool...

Siraj Syed reviews Mantra: Travails and travesties

Siraj Syed reviews Mantra: Travails and travesties In one scene of Mantra, the protagonist, a Delhi industrialist called KK (Kapil Kapoor) who is about to sell his bleeding chips-manufacturing business to his cash-rich multi-national rival, finds a Frenchman looking for a drug (of the smoking kind) and the two manage to find a dealer named Rahul. On a high, the man tells the Frenchman that the Beatles have split. Nothing wrong in breaking such news to a pot-partner, even if the guy happens to...

Siraj Syed reviews Before I Fall: Death gives her a second chance, and a third, and a ...

Siraj Syed reviews Before I Fall: Death gives her a second chance, and a third, and a ... It is amazing how an old ‘doha’ (lessons and ethics of life, in simple poetic couplet form) from Indian folk literature has taken the shape of an American movie in 2017. Moral: We are aware of only one life, and to make the most of it, we must perform all our good deeds before it is too late. The doha, by secular Saint KabeerDaas goes, “Kaal karey so aaj kar, Aaj karey so ab’, whi...

Siraj Syed reviews Machine: Misguided Machinations and Mechanical Malfunction

Siraj Syed reviews Machine: Misguided Machinations and Mechanical Malfunction Abbas Burmawalla-Mustan Burmawalla are a director-brother duo that gave an early hit to Indian Superstar ShaRukh Khan in the shape of Baazigar (Player/Gambler). Khan, never averse to accepting negative parts, lapped it up in delight, and a hit ensued. All those who cried foul, that the film was plagiarised from A Kiss before Dying, were mere spectators as the film, and its dizzy, snazzy sound-track jingled at the bo...

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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.


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