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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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Restored Pak-Indo classic at Jio MAMI’s 18th Mumbai Film Festival with STAR

by Siraj Syed It was through the thoughtfulness of a WhatsApp group member that I came to know about a Press Conference being organised on the 29th of September by Mumbai Academy of the Moving Image (MAMI) to announce the 18th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival. MAMI is a trust that was formed 19 years ago, and the trustees included Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Shyam Benegal, Amol Palekar and Sudhir Mishra. The reins are now held by Kiran Rao, who is also Mrs. Aamir Khan and Anupama Chopra (journalist, a...

Parched, Review by Siraj Syed: Rani & Lajjo & Bijli & Thelma & Louise’s Rihaee

Parched, Review by Siraj Syed: Rani & Lajjo & Bijli & Thelma & Louise’s Rihaee Get this right. Parched is not a remake. It is a nod to the soul of the 1988 film, Rihaee (Liberation, directed by Aruna Rajé), and a tribute to one of the most discussed climaxes in cinematic history: Hollywood’s Thelma and Louise, a 1991 milestone by Ridley Scott. One film old director Leena Yadav sets her tale in Rajasthan, enlists a youngish cast and a predominantly foreign cr...

The Magnificent Seven, Review by Siraj Syed: Rogue Bogue’s Epilogue

The Magnificent Seven, Review by Siraj Syed: Rogue Bogue’s Epilogue You might say that The Magnificent Seven is not as iconic a Western as some others in the genre, like Stagecoach, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Last Train from Gun Hill, Annie Get Your Gun, Billy the Kid, Shane, the Sergio Leone trilogy, The Alamo, True Grit, MacKenna’s Gold or Cat Ballou. But it is not very far either. For one, it has spawned several remakes, sequels and bootleg versions (including a few Hindi fil...

Raaz Reboot: Exorcise in futility

Raaz Reboot: Exorcise in futility When the best things in a horror/supernatural film are its songs, it does not augur well. A few days before the release of Raaz Reboot (they use that in the title? I thought ‘reboot’ was a word copyrighted to journalists and IT whiz kids!) the Bhatt threesome—brothers Mahesh and Mukesh and protege Vikram—announced that Raaz 4 (now, that sounds better) would be the last instalment in the series. Foresight for sure. Raaz (Hindi/Urdu for ...

Photocopy, Pre-review: Archie rivals

It’s bright, it’s bubbly, it’s racy. It’s flippant, it’s contrived, it’s lengthy. Photocopy is a Marathi language Indian romantic comedy film, produced by singer and first time producer, Dr. Nehha Chandna Rajpal. She, her husband Akash, and Omkar Mangesh Datt,  have reworked the Archie-Betty-Veronica fable three times over, to give it a new, contemporary look. What if Betty and Veronica were twins? What if Archie could not tell one from the other? What ...

Wah Taj, Trailer and Preview: Heritage fight

Wah Taj, Trailer and Preview: Heritage fight ‘Wah’ is an Indian expression, roughly equivalent to the English ‘wow’ or ‘great’. The Taj in the title refers to Taj Mahal, India’s biggest tourist attraction, among the Official New 7 Wonders of the World. It was elected by more than 100 million votes, to represent global heritage, and announced at the Declaration Ceremony, on 07.07.07. Among the many brands the monument has spawned are the Taj group of i...

Freaky Ali, Review: Laddie, caddie, baddie and the golf war comaddie

Golf is not very popular in India. Neither is ice hockey. Cricket is. So you cannot blame Sohail Khan for making these basic changes to the plot of the Adam Sandler film of yesteryear, Happy Gilmore (1996). Sandler was a failed ice-hockey player who gets holed big in golf. It’s 2016. Enter Nawazuddin Siddiqui, a failed male underwear street-vendor who can hit sixers at will, and carries over his tennis ball cricket prowess to the golf course. Freaky? What else? And yes, his name is Ali. ...

Don’t Breathe, Review: Wait Until Bark

Don’t Breathe, Review: Wait Until Bark “Just because he’s blind, it don’t mean he’s a saint,” says Money. Money is a nick-name, and he’s right about the blind guy. He’s no saint. He’s a Gulf War veteran who lost his eyes in combat. Back home, he’s recently lost his only child, a daughter, to in a car accident, and received $300,000 as settlement of his claim. So, does that deny him sainthood? Hardly! Instead, it makes him a ‘so...

Island City, Review: Fun and the Gun, Idiot and the Box, BeauT and IT

  Early on in Ruchika Oberoi’s Island City, an IT company Manager reminds his employees that its temporary tagline, the three words, all beginning with F, do not constitute the company’s ‘motto’. The latter consists of three words beginning with O. Three, just in case you missed the point. She goes on to mount three stories, tenuously linked, based in Mumbai, but not directly about the trials and tribulations of living in a city that once consisted ...

Vidnet 2016: Casting the content net far and vid--Bollywood, Hollywood, and..?

Vidnet 2016: Casting the content net far and vid--Bollywood, Hollywood, and..? MUMBAI: Bollywood, Hollywood and sports content will certainly get you traction, but ultimately, well thought out differentiated content, partnerships with platforms and targeted audience will not only get the eyeballs, but also return on investment for content creators on OTT platforms. This was the message that spr5ead itself like a canopy, taking content creators and OTT platform operators under its span, at the ...

CommumnicAsia 2016: Piddock’s Glisser; clients like Microsoft, AMEX, VISA, Bloomberg, UPS: looking for US Business Manager

CommumnicAsia 2016: Piddock’s Glisser; clients like Microsoft, AMEX, VISA, Bloomberg, UPS: looking for US Business Manager Micahel 'Mike' Piddock inhabited the U.K. longe at CommunicAsia 2016, Marina Bay Sands Ehibition Centre.Glisser is a London event technology start-up, with a mission to increase engagement and collect more data whenever people come together. The Glisser platform lets users add polls, digital Q&A, analytics, and much more, to any presentation they are giv...

CommunicAsia 2016: SpeedCast provides services for SES Asia Pacific satellites, acquires WINS

CommunicAsia 2016: SpeedCast provides services for SES Asia Pacific satellites, acquires WINS SpeedCast International Limited, a leading global satellite communications and network service provider, and SES, a leading global satellite operator, have signed a multi-year service agreement for Telemetry, Tracking and Command (‘TT&C’) and Carrier Spectrum Monitoring (‘CSM’) services for four of its satellites in the AsiaPac/IOR region. Under the service agreement, Spe...

CommunicAsia 2016: CDNetworks sees huge cloud acceleration and security potential in Asia-Pacific

CommunicAsia 2016: CDNetworks sees huge cloud acceleration and security potential in Asia-Pacific With rampant growth of e-Commerce in countries such as China, India, Japan and South Korea, the Asia-Pacific region is set to become the leading region for e-Commerce globally. By 2018, this region is expected to generate sales of US$1,892 billion regionally and US$3,015 globally. Countries such as Malaysia and Philippines are witnessing the strongest growth, while China and Korea will command th...

CommunicAsia 2016: RGB, regular at the Expo, bags RED Digital Camera distributorship

CommunicAsia 2016: RGB, regular at the Expo, bags RED Digital Camera distributorship Characterised by its signature coloured logo, India’s seven year-old RGB Broadcasting was present at CommunicAsia 2016, an occasion it makes a point not to miss. RGB Broadcasting is one of the leading broadcasting solution providers that has served some of the best broadcasters and media brands around the world, such as Star Sports India, Mathrubhumi News, Janam TV, Al Ain Sport Clubs and the Abu Dhabi ...

CommunicAsia 2016: TV5MONDE retains Brightcove for regional OTT services

CommunicAsia 2016: TV5MONDE retains Brightcove for regional OTT services Brightcove Inc., the leading provider of cloud services for video, announced that TV5MONDE, a global television network and leading broadcaster of French language programming, has selected Brightcove Video Cloud to power its regional Over-The-Top video service, TV5MONDE+ Asie and TV5MONDE+ Pacifique. Brightcove Video Cloud is a leading online video platform that will be used by TV5MONDE to manage and scale its premium O...

Ben Hur, Review: Chariots for hire

Ben Hur, Review: Chariots for hire What do you remember about the 1959 screen version of the 1880 story? Nothing, unless you are a Senior Citizen, even if the Indian release was probably two years later than the Hollywood opening. I remember the chariot race, with Charlton Heston as Judah Ben-Hur and Stephen Boyd as Messala. Edge of the seat stuff, especially Messala. The sub-text of Christ, Christianity, Judaism, and the Roman Empire’s sadistic tyranny, was lost on the bunch of school-...

Subhash Ghai, director-showman, launches Trailer of college movie, Days of Tafree

Subhash Ghai, director-showman, launches Trailer of college movie, Days of Tafree Tafree is an interesting title, being a shortened form of the word tafreeh, which means entertainment or fun in Urdu. The Hindi equivalent is manoranjan. Ahmedabad-based writer-director Krishnadev Yagnik’s debut film Chhello Divas (Last Day, in Gujarati, a college romp) was a hit, and he has written and directed the college romp in Hindi, titled Tafree, with at least two lead actors carried over....

Singer-model-actress Amika Shail releases Ankhan Sharabi

Singer-model-actress Amika Shail releases Ankhan Sharabi Amika Shail, the Kolkata girl who has now moved to Mumbai, launched a single titled ‘Ankhan Sharabi’, a party number, in Mumbai, last week. The title means ‘Intoxicating Eyes’, in Punjabi. Amika’s song has her signature singing style. She said about the song, “This track is very close to my heart, as I have not only sung but also performed on the track. The shooting of the song took place in Goa, whi...

FICCI conference: Digital content economy poised to see exponential growth

FICCI conference: Digital content economy poised to see exponential growth Digital content specialists outlined the future of India’s digital economy at a conference, organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, FICCI, in association with the Los Angeles India Film Council (LAIFC), last week, at the Taj Land’s End Hotel, Mumbai.  Fast Track India: Bolstering Growth in the Digital Content Economy, a Knowledge Series forum by the Federation of India...

Budhia Singh—Born to Run, alias Duronto, Review: Marathon gone

Budhia Singh—Born to Run, alias Duronto, Review: Marathon gone Running is good for health. Making films on running and runners is not a bad ploy for a production house to get a run for their money, or money for your run. Milking the genre without substantial innovation might not be such good idea, though, and the box-office run might be as short-lived as, or, in fact, much shorter than, the apparently aborted career of India’s child wonder, Budhia Singh. Based on a true story, Bu...

The Legend of Michael Mishra, Review: Legender Bender, alias What a Choke!

The Legend of Michael Mishra, Review: Legender Bender, alias What a Choke! A joke I read as a teenager went like this: After consulting doctor after doctor for two years, a man was unable to find a cure for his eyes popping out and a growing choking feeling. When it became so bad that he was unable to breathe properly, he thought the end was near, and decided to live it up during his last days on earth. So, he went to a tailor to get a new shirt and suit stitched. The tailor took a tape and s...

Bad Moms, Review: PTAble mothers, off the hinge, on a binge

Six moms and a common problem: being mothers of school-going children in present-day USA. Amy (Mila Kunis) is a woman with a seemingly perfect life--a great marriage, a boy and a girl and a dog; a beautiful home. Now for the downside: she's over-worked, underpaid (by a 20 something boss Dale Kipler: Clark Duke), over committed to her family and exhausted to the point that she's about to snap. Moreover, she finds that her husband Mike (David Walton) is having a torrid online affair, an...

Ghostbusters-Answer the Call, Review: Making the ghost of it

Ghostbusters-Answer the Call, Review: Making the ghost of it Sequel? No. Remake? Well, almost. The term going around is re-boot. Thirty years after the first ghost was busted, we have a new version, where the male protagonists are replaced by females, the female by a male, several of the original cast are invited to do cameos and the original writers/director are given all due credit It’s a joy-ride that is slow to take off, but grows on you, almost like the gargantuan balloon of a ghos...

NYIFF-G5A Film Festival, Closing film, A Far Afternoon: One from the art

NYIFF-G5A Film Festival, Closing film, A Far Afternoon: One from the art There must be something about painting genius and longevity. Not only do their works live for centuries, many of the masters themselves live relatively long lives, and are often active, even in their 90s. While watching A Far Afternoon-A Painted Saga, the 2014 documentary on painter Krishen Khanna, by Sruti Harihara Subramaniam, the closing film at the NYIFF-G5A Film Society Film Festival, one was stunned to find that Kr...

NYIFF-G5A Film Festival Reviews, U Turn: Highway is my way

NYIFF-G5A Film Festival Reviews, U Turn: Highway is my way In many ways, the choice of U Turn as the penultimate screening of the NYIFF-G5A Film Society’s Film Festival, the first ever Mumbai edition of the annual event, held 7,793.27 miles/12,560 km/16 hours flying time away, was a U Turn, compared to the kind of films they had been showing for the four preceding weeks. Symbolically, the idea of the festival is itself a U Turn, since all the films are Indian, sourced from NYIFF. Coal 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.


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