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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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IFFI Goa 2015, Festival Diary, IV

IFFI Goa 2015, Festival Diary, IV IFFI Goa 2015, Festival Diary, IV At IFFI, the grand prizes are called the Golden Peacock and Silver Peacock, although India’s national bird is far from either golden or silver in colour, and the décor at the venue this year is derived from various shades of blue, including violet and purple. A total of 15 films have been short-listed in the International Competition Section, two of them India, both from the Eastern state of West Bengal....

IFFI Goa 2015, Festival Diary, II

IFFI Goa 2015, Festival Diary, II To be held from November 20th to 30 2015 in Panaji, Goa, Goa, the 46th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) will showcase movies across several sections, including World Cinema, Indian Panorama, Country Focus, International Competition, Retrospectives, Tributes, First Cut, Workshops, Master Classes,  and more. IFFI is organised by the Directorate of Film Festivals, Information and Broadcasting Ministry, Government of India, in association with the...

IFFI Goa 2015, Festival Diary, I

It began, like Ameen Sayani’s legendary film music popularity countdown show, Binaca Geetmala, in 1952, a few months after I was born. The first International Film Festival of India (IFFI) was held in 1952, in Bombay, which was at that time, a state in itself. It was a non-competitive festival and ran for a fortnight. Twenty three countries, including host India, participated, along with the United Nations Organisation. 52 feature films and 115 documentaries, scientific films, cartoons, ...

MFF 17, by Jio-MAMI, Festival Diary, IV

MFF 17, by Jio-MAMI, Festival Diary, IV At film festivals, the experience of watching films is like no other. You have many choices, depending on the venue, and the option of walking out of one ‘bad’ film into another unknown entity, just next door, trying pot-luck. Advance booking, the norm at MFF, means that you might never ever succeed in getting a ticket, given that the number of delegates and media-persons always far outweighs the number of seats available, often by 3:1 or 4:...

MFF 17, by Jio-MAMI, Festival Diary, III

MFF 17, by Jio-MAMI, Festival Diary, III For me, MFF 17 began on 31st October, with Star India’s Movie Mela (Fair), India's first movie carnival, where, over the whole day, a reported two thousand movie fans and celebrities tuned-up. The event was open to all delegates and was held at Mehboob Studios, in Bandra, founded by one India’s greatest ever film-makers, Mehboob Khan. It was kicked off with a session by director Rajkumar Hirani (Munnabhai, 3 Idiots, PK) and his writer,...

MFF 17, by Jio-MAMI, Festival Diary, II

MFF 17, by Jio-MAMI, Festival Diary, part I  MFF 17, by Jio-MAMI, Festival Diary, II                                       Kiran Rao and Anupama Chandra Come 28 October, and we learnt that the inauguration of Jio MAMI 17th Mumbai Film Festival would be held on 29th October in open-air at Mumbai’s most famous landmark, the Gateway of India. It was also learnt that the inaugural fi...

MFF 17, by Jio-MAMI, Festival Diary, I

MFF 17, by Jio-MAMI, Festival Diary, I                                                                                                        (Coming up: Part II) It began in 1997, as the International Film Festival of Mumbai (IFFM). Som...

Main Aur Charles, Review: Misanthropic biopic

Main Aur Charles, Review: Misanthropic biopic In the biography, The Life and Crimes of Charles Sobhraj, by Richard Neville and Julie Clark, the serial killer’s mother summed him up. “He has the face of an angel, but somewhere, I think the devil crept into his soul,” she said. Main Aur Charles is the heavily edited, partly fictionalised but deeply rooted biopic about one of the most enigmatic criminal masterminds in 20th century history, wanted in India, Thailand, France, Gre...

Goosebumps, Review: BlackJack Stine and the ‘loose’ characters

Goosebumps, Review: BlackJack Stine and the ‘loose’ characters It’s enough to give you goosebumps: over 400 million Goosebumps books have been sold worldwide, in 32 languages, with author R.L. Stine recognised as one of the highest rated, bestselling, children’s authors in history. Goosebumps had its TV adaptation running from 1995 to 1998. Now, here comes the movie, with so much material that the makers were spoilt for choice. A clever technique is used to get past th...

Hotel Transylvania 2, Review: Vampa ire

Hotel Transylvania 2, Review: Vampa ire When you want to turn horror into comedy, what better ploy than to make them animated/CGI characters? Add 3D to that, and the spell is cast. Only problem is, the funnier it gets, the less scary it remains, and vice versa. Like the passers-by in Hotel Transylvania 2, who are far from scared at the past-their-prime monster brigade’s pathetic attempts at instilling fear in them, the audience might find the proceedings short of being very scary or too...

Shaandaar, Review: Insomniacs, maniacs, megalomaniacs and necrophiliacs

Shaandaar, Review: Insomniacs, maniacs, megalomaniacs and necrophiliacs It’s a Shaandaar combination. Producers of this eagerly-awaited film include the Dharma banner owner Karan Johar (Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, My Name is Khan, Student of the Year; also director), Vikramaditya Motwane (director of the mini-classic, Udaan, and co-owner of the production house, Phantom Films, with Shaandaar director Vikas Bahl, Anurag Kashyap, and Madhu Mantena) and Anurag Kashyap himself, the director of such...

Rock the Kasbah, Review: Afghan star, American war

Rock the Kasbah, Review: Afghan star, American war                                                                             In all probability, the plot of Rock the Kasbah was worked out backwards. Somebody saw an Afghan girl named Setara (meaning ‘star’) Hussainzada sing and dance on a loca...

The Last Witch Hunter, Review: Witch one will Vin?

The Last Witch Hunter, Review: Witch one will Vin?                                                              Like the aliens in Men in Black, the witches here could pass off as persons next door. That is, until they are found out by an 800 year-old man in black, the last surviving witch-hunter. The Last Witch Hunter is not the last movie...

A Bridge of Spies, Review: Spyelberg on spy-swapping--one of theirs for two of ours

A Bridge of Spies, Review: Spyelberg on spy-swapping--one of theirs for two of ours Old school film-making at its charming best is what Steven Spielberg delivers in this potential thriller, that is, instead, crafted as a compelling commentary--on the sordid business of spying, the acceptance of the hard truth that a foreign spy operating in your country is as loyal as your spies indulging in espionage abroad, and the sacred right of every accused in America to a fair trial, be it a US citizen...

Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2, Review: Sucker bunch and the sex carrots

Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2, Review: Sucker bunch and the sex carrots                                              Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2 has been described in some media reports as a not so true sequel to 2011 film, Pyaar Ka Punchnama. Not having seen the earlier Punchnama (dissection/five witnesses to a crime report report/post mortem; ‘punch’ means five), I cannot comm...

Pan, Review: Flying Pantasy

Pan, Review: Flying Pantasy Once you pick up a hundred year-old children’s story and decide to invent its unwritten prequel, 3D and CGI are obvious choices. Yes, you could go overboard on both counts, but so long as you have packed it with a generous dose of thrills, and given it break-neck pace, you can make a fantasy both exciting and interesting. Pan offers above par performances, not so common in fairy-tales, mounts a huge canvas and makes sweeping brush-strokes. There are issues ab...

Sicario, Review: One drug cartel is better than two

Sicario, Review: One drug cartel is better than two Breath-taking aerial shots of the US-Mexico border area and amazingly choreographed encounter scenes are the highlight of Sicario, a drug cartel crime thriller about an FBI-CIA joint operation that does on land what the US army and air-force have been doing in foreign countries for decades: seek, find and eliminate the enemy. Every player has questionable motives, except a couple of conscientious FBI operatives, and even they eventually fall...

Talvar, Review: Whodunit? Doesn’t matter!

Talvar, Review: Whodunit? Doesn’t matter! Like the 1950 Japanese cult film Rashomon, directed by Akira Kurosawa and often rated as one of the greatest films ever made, remade n number of times in India, Meghna Gulzar’s Talvar (sword) presents three contradictory accounts of a nation-rocking real life double murder, which variously portray the prime accused as guilty or innocent. It fictionalises names and dates, amalgamates some characters into a single entity and does not take a ...

Singh is Bling, Review: Kickass, jackass and badass

Singh is Bling, Review: Kickass, jackass and badass                                                                                       Singh is blink-ing. Maybe winking. After many head-banging, from a ledge, he is hanging.  His lady love is English talking. With them is in...

The Intern, Review: Good turn

The Intern, Review: Good turn A 30-something Internet start-up founder finds a soul-mate in a 70-something company ‘intern’. So, what does she do? Get involved with him romantically? Banish the thought. She is looking for a CEO to run the company more efficiently, and the old man has been a marketing manager. So, what does she do? Promote him to CEO? No way. She finds that her house-husband is cheating on her. So, all hell breaks loose? Not a chance. The Intern carefully avoids al...

(Maze Runner II)-The Scorch Trials, Review: Trial and terror

(Maze Runner II)-The Scorch Trials, Review: Trial and terror                                                                  Titles can mislead. Read in standalone mode, The Scorch Trials can easily be mistaken to be a film chronicling a series of court-room cases about burning issues. Of course, it is “no issue”, if ...

Kis Kisko Pyar Karoon, Review: Odd Kapils

Kis Kisko Pyaar Karoon, Review: Odd Kapils                                                                                        What is Kis Kisko Pyaar Karoon (KKPK)? A remake of the Kannada film Nimbe Huli, produced by Subhash Ghai? A remake of some yet to be identified Eng...

Pawn Sacrifice, Review: Check this out, Mate

In the only Urdu/Hindi film he ever made, Indian cinema’s Bengali language grandmaster Satyajit Ray used chess as a metaphor, setting it against the backdrop of the crumbling Navabi rule over Avadh (Lucknow), and its imminent take-over by the British East India company. It was simply called Shatranj Ke Khilari (The Chess Players). Another chess film, a 30-minute short made in 1988, was called Queen Sacrifice. The present film manages with just a pawn sacrifice! Two feature-length recent ...

Black Mass, Review: Whitey’s black deeds and the FBI’s blind eye

Black Mass, Review: Whitey’s black deeds and the FBI’s blind eye Black Mass is a term used to indicate a reverse Christian mass, the inversion of the traditional Latin Mass celebrated by the Roman Catholic Church, one that celebrates the occult. People who know this would think that a film with such a name was another supernatural horror drama. It is nothing of the kind. So, the makers toyed with the idea of changing the title, but for reasons best known to them, stuck with the or...

Directors’ Diaries, by Rakesh Anand Bakshi, Book Review: A dozen journeys, a dozen destinations

Directors’ Diaries, by Rakesh Anand Bakshi, Book Review: A dozen journeys, a dozen destinations Aspiring director and son of India’s renowned film-lyricist, late Anand Bakhshi, Rakesh Bakshi has been aspiring to make his first film for a real long time. In the meanwhile, he has been writing, cycling and doing his bit for the under-privileged of local society. So far, the trail to his big break has proven to be elusive. How elusive? How frustrating? As frustrating as that some of h...

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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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