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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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Siraj Syed reviews Lion: Soaring emotions, roaring cinema

Siraj Syed reviews Lion: Soaring emotions, roaring cinema Lion is the tale of mothers and sons, brothers and sisters, separation and unification, brimming with humanity, and yet not fighting shy of tilting the camera down, to capture the grim realities of crime and perversion in a cruel and miserable world. All those who frown upon technology as the bane of the 21st century, here’s a glorious tribute to the great service it can and is meant to render, and does, as evidenced in the film....

Siraj Syed reviews John Wick-Chapter 2: His WICked WICKed ways

Siraj Syed reviews John Wick-Chapter 2: His WICked WICKed ways First tell me, do you have problems with one man shooting down one two hundred, over five encounters, forty each per encounter? Is it fine with you that every time Wick shoots, it’s bull’s eye, while all the shots fired by the Wicked men and women miss the target, and when they do hit pay-dirt, they bounce off his armour? Fine? No problems? Welcome to John Wick 2, a treat for you. This is Chapter 2, so you must recal...

Siraj Syed reviews Hidden Figures: US-Russia space race & black women’s amazing grace

Siraj Syed reviews Hidden Figures: US-Russia space race & black women’s amazing grace Did you know that three black women played crucial roles in NASA’s space programme, and without them, John Glenn would not be remembered as the first American astronaut to make it back to earth, but as a young man who got burnt to cinders, along with his spacecraft, by the heat generated on his vehicle’s re-entry into earth’s orbit? This is the true story of the rather unimaginati...

Siraj Syed reviews Biddu’s autobiography, Made in India: Lone Trojan’s Adventures of a Lifetime

Siraj Syed reviews Biddu’s autobiography, Made in India: Lone Trojan’s Adventures of a Lifetime That life-time has now seen 72 summers. Karnataka-born world musician Biddu Appaiah, with Coorgi nativity, has chased his recent summers from London, to Spain, to Mumbai to Goa, every year. For one who strongly believes that musicians should retire at 65, including greats like Paul McCartney, he has just about lived up to his conviction. The only creative work he has done in the last se...

Aamir, Nasir, Tahir, Tariq, Mansoor, Amjad: Movies, Masti, Modernity, Flashback 4

Aamir, Nasir, Tahir, Tariq, Mansoor, Amjad: Movies, Masti, Modernity, Flashback 4 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 Kaagaz Ki Kashti: Paper-boat ride across oceans of melody

Siraj Syed reviews Kaagaz Ki Kashti: Paper-boat ride across oceans of melody         When you are making a biopic, you first need to narrow down on either a famous person, or a commoner who has led an uncommon and highly captivating life. Jagjit Singh was an extremely popular singer, with dozens of albums and hundreds of songs to his credit. Next, it always helps if the person is alive, or has passed away not too long ago, because material used in the ...

Siraj Syed reviews Moonlight: Silences waxing eloquent

Siraj Syed reviews Moonlight: Silences waxing eloquent ‘Slowly, silently, now the moon Walks the night in her silver shoon’—Walter de la Mare In The Color Purple, we realised that black persons appear purple in on some occasions. A character in Moonlight says he was nick-named Blue because he looked blue when seen in moonlight. Others are called Black or Nigger, by their own folk, who are low on self esteem, and susceptible to apartheid, within the segregated race of black...

Ameen Sayani and the film Geetmala: Standing tall

Ameen Sayani and the film Geetmala: Standing tall Every stage singer is a mimic,” said Ameen Sayani ‘clone’ Sagar Sayani to me, in the green room, “and imitates legendary film song singers, Mohammed Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Manna Dey, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle or Geeta Dutt. So what’s wrong if I imitate the compère, the very man who introduced us to these original singers, on radio and on stage, for 65 years?” Lead singer and ad-libber Gaurav Bangia s...

Siraj Syed reviews Raees: Contentious content, alias “Don’t call me Battery”

Siraj Syed reviews Raees: Contentious content, alias “Don’t call me Battery” Ra.One did it. Don 2 had done it. Raees, wherein he plays a Don once more, adds to his raeesy. Superstar ShahRukh Khan must be a happy man these days, heading in the right direction, hitting the road to Hitsville.Touted as the block-buster of the year, Raees, about a small-time bootlegger who wrangles his way to the top and becomes not only raees (Urdu for ‘rich’) but filthy rich, has no...

Siraj Syed reviews Resident Evil 6-The Final Chapter: Horror is terrific business

Siraj Syed reviews Resident Evil 6-The Final Chapter: Horror is terrific business There has to be something about it. It’s the first film franchise of the horror genre to cross a billion dollars, since its genesis 15 years ago. If you are from the gaming generation of the new millennium, you are probably aware that it all began as a game, and the eponymous first edition in the series was released in 1996, as a survival horror video game, but the franchise has since grown to encompass ot...

Siraj Syed reviews ‘A Million Rivers’: Complex hOMage to simple man PURI

Siraj Syed reviews ‘A Million Rivers’: Complex hOMage to simple man PURI This ‘homage’ began as a ‘tribute’ to Om Puri, counterpoised against Lillete Dubey, by writer-director Sarah Singh, four years before his death, in 2013, and was completed in 2016. We saw the film on 30th January 2017, at the Black Box, in Central Mumbai, courtesy the G5A Foundation for Contemporary Arts and Culture. When I last met Om Puri in the last week of November 2016, at the In...

Aamir, Nasir, Tahir, Tariq, Mansoor, Amjad: Movies, Masti, Modernity, Flashback 3

Aamir, Nasir, Tahir, Tariq, Mansoor, Amjad: Movies, Masti, Modernity, Flashback 3 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 The Founder: Hey Mac, watch out for that Burger!

Siraj Syed reviews The Founder: Hey Mac, watch out for that Burger! Your McDonald’s burger is not going to be same again. Neither are the fries, or the softees. This is a biopic (read ‘Based on a true story') about the Kroc behind the arches, an American salesman known to the world as Raymond A. Kroc, who consolidated and expanded the two-store enterprise to, nearly, what it is today. Not the founder of the pioneering and iconic fast-food chain, he was more or less solely res...

Siraj Syed reviews satirical short Screwdriver: Nut screws washers and bolts

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

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

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. Commenting o...

Siraj Syed reviews Haraamkhor: Harmful to the core

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

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

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...

Aamir, Nasir, Tahir, Tariq, Mansoor, Amjad: Movies, Masti, Modernity, Flashback 1

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

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

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

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

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

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...

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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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