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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
It begins with two friends at a dining table, trying to fix a day for their drinks and dinner to celebrate one of them getting married. They cannot find any convenient date, because, due to sheer bad luck, there is a string of ‘Dry Days’ looming ahead. Dry Days are so named, in India, not because there is no rainfall on these days (there could be plenty of rain on a Dry Day) but because the Indian government bans the sale and consumption of alcohol on national and religious holiday...
Aamir, Nasir, Tahir, Tariq, Mansoor, Amjad: Movies, Masti, Modernity, Flashback 2
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...
Erosactivity gets into top gear, announces 50 films, 40+ directors on board
The next financial year for their India econ0my is 01 April 2017-31 March 2018, and at 50 productions in the pipeline, they will have almost every week at the box office covered. It’s a multilingual black-board, and includes wiz-kid Aanand L Rai and their joint production entity, Colour Yellow Production, Viki Rajani's NextGen Films, and Trinity Pictures, Eros’ in-house franchise label.
Siraj Syed reviews Haraamkhor: Harmful to the core
Haraamkhor: A derisive term, having its roots in Persian (Farsi) and widely used in present-day Urdu and Hindi. Haraamkhor literally means one who feeds on ill-begotten food, haraam meaning immoral, or not kosher, the antonym of halaal, right and approved. Khor refers to eater, or consumer, from the Persian verb khordan, to eat. Some prefer to spell the word beginning with a qh, to distinguish from the kh sound, which is less guttural and not...
Siraj Syed reviews Passengers: Window seat at the journey of a life-time
They’ve got it right. Not perfect, but right. Mind-boggling special effects and a mind-toggling emotional narrative. It’s an elusive, coveted recipé, and for once, somebody nailed it. Use state-of-the-art VFX, but blend them with an equally compelling story-line, sometimes shaken, sometimes stirred, and then pray you hit bull’s eye. Passengers is a journey that starts in outer space, but gets you...
Siraj Syed reviews Allied: Two Allies, Both Spies, One Cries, One Dies
There are a few things to like about Allied. Then there are a few things you don’t like so much. At the end f the report card, you might end up with as many –ves as you mark +ves, which doesn’t get you anywhere, really. Brad Pitt’s third war movie in a row and Marion Cotillard’s sequence of big projects promises you CasaBlanca, but gives you Morocco instead. Almost everything in the film is co...
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 name, so he can be called a Khan too! Tahir stands for Nasir’s (younger) brothe...
Indian films’ greatest playback singer Mohammed Rafi: Tributes on his 92nd birthday
Rafi died in 1980. Among the singers who gave playback to songs picturised on Indian actors, he topped the list, both in terms of quality and quantity. Opinions have been expressed that Kishore Kumar had the edge when it came to spontaneity and Manna Dey was a classical wizard. My own childhood favourite, Mukesh, too, was the darling of a few millions, but nobody, nobody could eye the spot that Rafi had ...
2016 good year for Sony Pictures Networks India
As 2016 fades out, Sony Pictures Networks (SPN) reveals that it has been a good year for the company. In 2007, the company had changed its name from Sony Entertainment Television (SET) to Multi Screen Media (MSM). Many viewers in India still remember the old name, which was the identity when the Sony group entered India, in 1995, not too long after the Indian skies had opened up to non-state, satellite television broadcasters.
According to N ...
Siraj Syed reviews Assassin’s Creed: As a sin’s breed
Where do we begin? In 2016 (technically, in most places), when the game has notched up more than 100 million copies in sales, and the film franchise has leapt from centimetre screens to metric rectangles? Or, in 2007, when, in less than four weeks, Assassin’s Creed recorded more than two-and-a-half million units in worldwide sales?
How about going back a little farther, to 1986, when the five Guillemot brothers created U...
Siraj Syed reviews Incarnate: This Entity is an Omen for the Exorcist
In cinema, as in most other industries, if you don’t innovate, you are dead. Innovation is an essential part of the survival kit, and if new genres are proving elusive, makers must, nevertheless, try to reformat the template. So, if you can’t re-incarnate, at least ‘incarnate’. A good example of eschewing supernatural tropes and plying atypical ropes instead is Incarnate. That it stumbles occasionall...
Siraj Syed reviews ‘The Cinema of Nasir Hussain’, by Akshay Manwani
...and serialises his own recollections of the Indian writer-director, who was a rare blend of pithy penmanship and shimmering showmanship.
Nasir Hussain (1931-2002) wrote and co-wrote a string of hits for Filmistan Studios, developed the persona of Shammi Kapoor as the Rebel Star, provided the platform to composer Rahul Dev Burman for his first big banner hit, sustained his faith in lyricist Majrooh Sultanpuri&r...
Digibooster sells 14 Punjabi films to leading Digital Platform
Digibooster, the new content market for the media and entertainment industry and part of the Booster Network, has just announced that it helped sell digital platform rights of 14 Punjabi feature film titles. The list is appended below.
The Booster Network is...
Siraj Syed reviews screenwriter Kirtida Gautam’s thought-provoking novel, #Iam16ICanRape
If a title like this cannot provoke you, and arouse immense curiosity, very little else will. A #hashtag that boldly declares its raison d’être, and alludes to a provision under Indian Criminal Law that only adults can be convicted of most crimes, younger convicted criminals being sentenced to time in a remand (reform) home. Even as author Kirtida was moving base to a new home in an...
Siraj Syed reviews Wajah Tum Ho: Rapists and therapists, aka Serial Killing on a News Channel
Some people just deserve to die.
There must be a mistake. Are you talking to me? Are you suggesting that I have done something that ...
No, not you.
The corrupt Assistant Commissioner of Police who preys on young lovers in parking lots, and extorts sex the teenage girl-friend in a guest-house, in return for letting them off.
Isn’t this the same cop who is blackmailing a Mumbai-ba...
Siraj Syed reviews Rogue One, A Star Wars Story: While there is war, there is hope!
“Learning to make films is very easy. Learning what to make films about is very hard.”
— George Walton Lucas, Jr.
"It's the reality of war. Good guys are bad. Bad guys are good. It's complicated, layered; a very rich scenario in which to set a movie." --Gareth Edwards.
It has been reported that the creator of Star Wars, George Lucas, liked Rogue One very much, and that th...
Genders and Sexualities in Films and Society: Beyond the Binary
Sexuality and the stigmas attached to it, by the state/religion/patriarchal society, have meant both a private and public hell, for those human beings who do not classify as male or female. There are already a significant number of closet queers/homosexuals, lesbians, gays, bi-sexual and transgender persons who have come out of into the open, including celebrities, especially media, entertainment and fashion industry figures.
Siraj Syed’s IFFI 2016 diary, XIV: Catching what you can!
If you really want to notch up six films a day, you can. All you need is luck, in terms of show slots and seats, an insatiable appetite for cinema of all forms from all countries, no appetite for food of the eating and drinking kind, an alarm clock body that can turn off on demand and turn on at will, and no commitments or engagements that you cannot skip or postpone during the festival period. Well, I might score high in terms o...
Siraj Syed’s IFFI 2016 diary, XIII: IM Kwon-taek’s 102 films and SPB’s 40,000 songs
South Korean film-maker IM Kwon-taek was conferred with the Lifetime Achievement Award and Indian singer S.P. Balasubrahmanyam was felicitated with the Centenary Award for Indian Film Personality of the Year at the International Film festival of India, 2016. The 80 year-old, famed director talked briefly, even owning up to some of his work that wasn’t well-received. Regarded as the fath...
Siraj Syed’s IFFI 2016 diary, XII: Award-winners of Golden and Silver Peacocks
In the curtailed International Film Festival of India (IFFI), which has shrunk from 15 to 9 days over the last 30 years, the closing ceremony was held on the 28th of November. Partly due to the fact that I have come to be less patient with speeches and formalities and partly in protest at the non-receipt of an invitation to the closing film screening, I decided to skip the ceremony, like I had skipped the ope...
Siraj Syed’s IFFI 2016 diary, XI: Virtual Reality: Think in 360
Clyde DeSouza found an elderly couple dancing in a Goa bar-restaurant. He captured the image and added perspective, giving it a 360⁰ viewing experience, and projected it at Maquinez Palace I, Panaji, as part of his Master Class at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) 2016. Even as the audience uttered wows, he clipped, “Imagine the same scene with a younger, more dynamic couple!” Welcome to Virtual ...
Siraj Syed’s IFFI 2016 diary X, Open Forum 6: Finding your way across 2K, 4K, 6K, 8K or 18K
A digital technician who has built theatres (Lightbox in Mumbai, for one)-Neil Sadwelkar, Na Tum Jaano Na Hum producer Vivek Singhania, and Indian Documentary Producers’ Association (IDPA) President Mike Pandey, participated in the last Open Forum of International Film Festival of India 2016, organised by IDPA, at old GMC building, Panaji, Goa, on 27 November. The moderator was film-m...
Siraj Syed’s IFFI 2016 diary, IX, Open Forum V: “We need more Amitabh Bachchans to help reduce global warming”
In its second Open Forum at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) 2016, Indian Documentary Producers’ Association (IDPA) sounded an urgent warning about the spreading carbon footprint and discussed steps to curb/neutralise its deleterious effect, especially among the film fraternity. Mike Pandey, President of IDPA and world-renowned environment-aware...
Siraj Syed’s IFFI 2016 diary VIII, Open Forum IV: Courses for horses or horses for courses?
Both, really. We are in the age of customised platforms for film viewing finding best-match, multiple-matches and staggered exhibition alternatives for films. A magnum opus like Bahubali (Indian mythological blockbuster franchise) needs a massive, four-digit spanning simultaneous, theatrical release while a Lunch Box (the mouse that roared a couple of years ago), though critically raved, would be...
Siraj Syed’s IFFI 2016 diary, Open Forum III: Skill-building through master classes
An essential feature of every international film festival around the globe, mater classes abound at IFFI too. FFSI, in collaboration with DFF, chose to highlight their benefits in skill-building at the third Open Forum. An open-air affair, it did not attract too many attendees. Firstly, the location was remote and secondly the timing that has been a permanent slot for Open Forum at IFFI is from 1.30 pm t...
About Siraj Syed
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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