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Siraj Syed


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Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for FilmFestivals.com and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics.
Festival Correspondent, Film-critic, Feature-writer.


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MIFF 2016: Festival Director and Jackie Shroff meet the press

Midway through Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF), the Director and the Brand Ambassador met the press on Monday, 01 February, at the Media Centre, in the Films Division Complex. It was the customary mid-fest conference, but with the addition of a new feature, the brand ambassador.

“I am delighted to see that large numbers of viewers are sitting in our halls and watching documentary, short and animation films from around the world,” began Mukesh Sharma. (He was being more optimistically correct than factual, though. Not many shows at MIFF attracted large audiences). “We faced several hurdles in organising MIFF 2016, but the energy that is floating around is highly encouraging. I assure you that the next (15th) MIFF will be an even more pleasurable experience, once the film hub, currently under construction in this very complex, is ready. Instead of multiple venues, as at MIFF 2016, we will then accommodate 2000 viewers under one roof.”

Jackie Shroff shared that he was delighted to be among ideators and film-makers from all over the world. Having worked in mainstream commercial cinema for 33 years, he said he is entering a new phase in his life. “It made me feel so happy when students of the Ryan School (which is conducting workshops at MIFF) greeted me this morning with ‘Happy Birthday to You’. Yes, it is my birthday today, and guess what new step I took on this day? I attended a workshop on animation screenplay writing (conducted by Luca Raffaeli of Italy and moderated by award-winning India animator Dhvani Desai)! Animation has always fascinated me, and I hope to make some animation films someday. ”

Confirming his enthusiasm, Sharma said besides performing his duties as brand ambassador, Jackie has been watching films too. To avoid over-enthusiastic fans disrupting screenings, he sneaks in when the lights are off, sits right at the back and sneaks out again before the lights come on. Asked whether he has had much interaction with audiences, Jackie replied in the negative. “So many of them want photos, selfies and autographs—that leaves little time to talk.”

Replying to a question about what could be done to improve MIFF, he said, “That is for the administrators to decide. But I would be very happy to see it become an annual event, like every other film festival in the city. A biennial festival is just not the same thing. IFFI (International Film Festival of India) at Goa is exciting too, but to me, Mumbai and Goa are the same. The synergy is the same. Both are island cities, and I love them both. We should make India shine, whatever the venue. Let us become examples of hospitality to all the delegates of the world. Let us sketch success stories of oneness every year. Instead of finding faults, let us support those who work hard to make these events successful.”

Sharma then paid a compliment to Jackie, that, he insisted was richly deserved. “Jackie’s presence has boosted our morale tremendously. He added that ripple that became a wave of energy.” Asked by a journalist if the festival could be extended by a few days, since there was so much happening, Sharma responded by saying that it was not likely with the present infrastructure, which was really strained to manage the present duration, “but the point is taken”, he assured.

                       

A surprise lay in store for Jackie Shroff, as the Films Division and the Press Information Bureau (PIB) teams, both presented him with birthday cakes, which he gladly cut, and even posed for photographs and selfies with media-persons and FD personnel. A slice was offered to all present, and those in the Media Centre, managed by PIB, were given two helpings.

Jaikishen ‘Jackie’ Shroff was born on February 1, 1957 (his ‘official’ website gives his year of birth as 1960, which cannot be accurate, for he would then be only 13 years old while doing a villain’s role in Heera Panna-1973, also listed on the same website; even 1957 is stretching it, since that would make him 15-16 when the same film was shot). Jackie made his acting debut in a bit-role as a villain in 1973’s Heera Panna, which starred, and was directed by, Dev Anand. He then went on to act in another Dev Anand starrer, Swami Dada (1982), in yet another bit role

It was actor-turned director Subhash Ghai who signed him for the 1983 hit Hero, a film that catapulted this model to stardom. So far, he has appeared in about 150 films, in a career that has spanned 43 years. He married his longtime girlfriend, Ayesha Dutt, who is also a producer, and both husband and wife run Jackie Shroff Entertainment Limited. They have two children, a son, Jai, and a daughter, Krishna. Jai is better known as ‘Tiger’ and has also taken up acting. Jackie considers King Uncle, inspired by Annie but commercially lukewarm, among his favourite films. Recently, he did a short film called Makhmal (velvet) and a feature named Chalk and Duster.

 

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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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