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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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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...

Digibooster sells 14 Punjabi films to leading Digital Platform

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

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

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. Then who? 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!

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

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. Na...

Siraj Syed’s IFFI 2016 diary, XIV: Catching what you can!

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

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

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

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

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”

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?

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

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...

Siraj Syed’s IFFI 2016 diary, VI: Life after Ghatak, and breaking mindsets

Siraj Syed’s IFFI 2016 diary, VI: Life after Ghatak, and breaking mindsets Federation of Film Societies of India continues to champion the cause of film culture and appreciation by not only running film societies all over India, but organising the Open Forum at IFFI every year, in collaboration with DFF. At IFFI 2016, it got to share hosting of the six-day platform with the Indian Documentary Producers’ Association (IDPA), the first three days being allotted to FFSI. I missed the ...

Siraj Syed’s IFFI 2016 diary, V: And the Oscar for restoring classics goes to…AMPAS!

Siraj Syed’s IFFI 2016 diary, V: And the Oscar for restoring classics goes to…AMPAS! American body Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) is best known for presenting the annual awards, which are characterised by a figurine called the Oscar. Though that is the face of the academy, it does much more service to the cause of both American and international cinema than most people would imagine, including holding an annual student Oscars. At the Black Box of Panaji&rsqu...

Siraj Syed’s IFFI 2016 diary, IV: BRICS by bricks

Siraj Syed’s IFFI 2016 diary, IV: BRICS by bricks A film festival, with a competition section, was held in September, in New Delhi, preceding the Brazil, India China, Russia and South Africa (BRICS) summit, to which Goa played host last month. 20 films (4 each from member countries) were screened. Awards were given in five categories: (i) Best Film- Thithi (India); (ii) Best Actor Male- Thabo Rametsi (South Africa); (iii) Best Actor Female- Yulia Pereslid (Russia); (iv) Best Director- H...

Siraj Syed’s IFFI 2016 diary, III: Abbasolutely wonderful cinema of Kiarostami

*On a snowy morning/I run out/hatless and coatless/as happy as a child--a brief poem by Abbas Kiarostami. *I believe the films of Kiarostami are extraordinary--Akira Kurosawa. Every year, the International Film Festival of India pays a special tribute to film-makers who have moved on to their heavenly abodes. One such genius was Abbas Kiarostami, the Iranian legend, who passed away on July 4 this year, aged 76, in Paris, where he had been living for many years. In an eventful and rewarding c...

Siraj Syed’s IFFI 2016 diary, II, Andrzej Wajda’s lingering Afterimage

Siraj Syed’s IFFI 2016 diary, II, Andrzej Wajda’s lingering Afterimage Six of Poland’s much raved and long-revered director Andrzej Wajda’s films were on display at IFFI 2016. In a fitting tribute to the international master, who died on 9 October this year, of pulmonary failure, his last film, Afterimage, was the inaugural film here. Afterimage was completed just before his death, and he had even made a draft of the trailer and sent it to his editor, before dying, at ...

Siraj Syed’s diary of IFFI 2016: Thrillers from South Korea

The Office Five South Korean thrillers of various sub-genres were part of the Country Focus at IFFI  2016. They included two films that were shown at Cannes. Culled from latest releases, the selection has been titled Memoirs of Fear. Now a household name across the world thanks to Gangnam Style, a K(orea)-Pop song that shook the world in 2012, Gangnam-gu, in Seoul, is actually a large district where wealthy residential areas sit alongside high-end art facilities and Korea’s busies...

Siraj Syed reviews Shut In: Stephen was a happy shut-in, until Tom had to butt-in

Walk-in, run-in, let-in, give-in, turn-in, move-in, sit-in...now comes shut-in. “A shut-in is a person who, due to physical, mental and/or emotional reasons, is not able to leave his or her home. These conditions can cause a person to feel lonely, isolated, sad and cut off from the rest of the world. Sometimes, they do not have family and friends available to visit and spend time with them. They often lack any kind of companionship.” Shut In, the movie, is a generic psychological t...

Siraj Syed reviews Billy Lynn’s Long Half-Time Walk by Ang Lee

Siraj Syed reviews Billy Lynn’s Long Half-Time Walk by Ang Lee >“Americans are children, who must go somewhere else to grow up, and sometimes die.” > “How does anyone ever know anything—the past is a fog that breathes out ghost after ghost, the present a freeway thunder run at 90 mph, which makes the future the ultimate black hole of futile speculation.” >“It is sort of weird, being honored for the worst day of your life.” Trust Ang ...

I, Daniel Blake, Salesman & 10 other Cannes award-winners at IFFI Goa 2016

I, Daniel Blake, Salesman & 10 other Cannes award-winners at IFFI Goa 2016 A dozen Cannesy films are found in the selection for the 46th International Film Festival of Goa, 2016. Six months after Cannes and one month after the Mumbai Film Festival, those Indians who missed them there have another chance to make good their losses. I have seen only one of the pretty dozen, and though it was a treat for the eyes and ears, it was still anything but a pretty picture.   1. I, Daniel Blak...

IFFI: 1,000 entries from 100 countries

IFFI: 1,000 entries from 100 countries Ten days to go for the commencement of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI), and there is no confirmation for media accreditation as yet. This being the 47th IFFI and my 47th year in film journalism, I am sure the concern is unfounded, though. Also being missed is the customary press conference, which is held well before the event. Meanwhile, here are some of the major attractions expected in Panaji, Goa, during November 20-28. *A staggering...

Siraj Syed reviews Doctor Strange: Surgery and sorcery go hand in hand

Siraj Syed reviews Doctor Strange: Surgery and sorcery go hand in hand Comics can be victims of overkill, especially when they traverse the distance from page to screen. Casting might be (mis)guided by name and fame, when suitability is of greater import. Marvel’s Doctor Strange, with part Disney talent and full distribution channels in tow, is ridden with both pitfalls. It’s a marvel then that the film manages to serve above par, enjoyable fare, for which credit largely goes to t...

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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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