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A salute and a Happy birthday to Siraj Syed our India Correspondent: check his fantastic film critics contribution over a year

The team at filmfestivals.com wanted to take the opportunity of this very special day for Siraj Syed to thank him for a fantastic dedication and great contributions (see below) HAPPY BIRTHDAY dear Siraj!

जन्मदिन की बहुत-बहुत शुभकामनाएँ

janmadin kee bahut-bahut shubhakaamanaen (hope this sounds correct, google?)

Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for FilmFestivals.com and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970.  he joined our network in 2008

 

 
Below  just ONE year of film reviews and reports

Maleficent-Mistress of Evil, Review: Feynix rises from the ashes

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Maleficent-Mistress of Evil, Review: Feynix rises from the ashes When a studio like Disney decides to give it the works, it usually works. It is difficult to find fault with the execution of the plot in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, unless, of course you begin with the title itself. As viewers will discover early in the film, she is not the mistress of evil. Then you might consider the fact that there are several killings and a full-blooded war depicted, in a film aimed at young children and ...
 

17.10.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

MFF 21 Movie Mela, III: Kareena Kapoor-Khan, Alia Bhatt and Karan Johar in Big Talk

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MFF 21 Movie Mela, III: Kareena Kapoor-Khan, Alia Bhatt and Karan Johar in Big Talk Kareena Kapoor Khan and Alia Bhatt discussed their favourite roles, film icons and handling success, with producer director and itinerant actor Karan Johar at the Jio MAMI Movie Mela with Star 2019, held on 13 October 2019 at the Rang Mandir, Bandra, Mumbai. This was the last session of the ‘feast/fest’. The Rapid-Fire session witnessed a surprising twist from close friend, young actor Varun Dhawan...
 

16.10.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

P se Pyaar F se Farraar, Review: On a killing

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P se Pyaar F se Farraar, Review: On a killing Alarming statistics at the end of the film reveal that killing of young men and women who elope or marry into other castes or religions increased by 769% last year. Reports of such barbaric brutality, called ‘honour killing’, appear in the newspapers and on TV channels regularly. States in the North, North-west and central parts of India are most severely affected. So, in the footsteps of Sairaat (Marathi) and Dhadak (Hindi), we have a...
 

15.10.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

MFF 21, 2019, 3: Excellence in Cinema Award goes to Deepti Naval

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MFF 21, 2019, 3: Excellence in Cinema Award goes to Deepti Naval Mumbai Academy of Moving Image(MAMI), organisers of the Mumbai Film festival, 17-24 October 2019, have chosen Deepti Naval as the recipient of the Excellence in Cinema Award, in the Indian section. Fernando Meirelles is the recipient in the International section. Born in Amritsar, Punjab, India, in 1952, Deepti Naval is an acclaimed actor. After her schooling, she migrated to the United States, where she was educated at the C...
 

15.10.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

MFF 21 Movie Mela, II: New Blood- Ananya, Janhvi, Mrunal, Radhika & Avinash ring in the Next Generation

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MFF 21 Movie Mela, II: New Blood- Ananya, Janhvi, Mrunal, Radhika & Avinash ring in the Next Generation Five of the most promising new generation actors--Ananya Panday, Janhvi Kapoor, Mrunal Thakur, Radhika Madan and Avinash Tiwary—jammed with anchors Anupama Chopra and Rajeev Masand, without inhibitions, at the Jio MAMI Movie Mela with Star 2019, held on 13 October 2019 at the Rang Mandir, Bandra, Mumbai. This was a precursor to the film festival proper, which gets going on the 17t...
 

14.10.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Angelina Jolie speaks with Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan’s voice in Maleficent II

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Angelina Jolie speaks with Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan’s voice in Maleficent II Mistress of Evil’s voice has been dubbed in Hindi by Indian star actress Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan in Disney’s Maleficent II, which opens in India on 18th October, 2019. In a press meet held in Mumbai’s J.W. Marriott Hotel on a Monday afternoon, Bikram Duggal, Executive Director and Head for Disney’s Studios business in India, revealed that hers was the first, and only, name that came-up duri...
 

14.10.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

MFF 21, 02: Fernando Meirelles to get Excellence in Cinema Award

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MFF 21, 02: Fernando Meirelles to get Excellence in Cinema Award "My deepest thanks to MAMI and the Mumbai Film Festival for this honour. As a director who makes his home on the opposite side of the world from where this festival takes place, I am humbly reminded that cinema is the perfect conduit for people to recognise and celebrate our shared humanity. I have strived to convey in my films an understanding between people who do not seem to have anything in common. To show that we have...
 

13.10.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Deepika Padukone in MFF 21 Movie Mela: Pre-festival feast of conversations with stars, directors

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Deepika Padukone in MFF 21 Movie Mela: Pre-festival feast of conversations with stars, directors For the last few years, Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI) has been holding Movie Mela as a forerunner to the Mumbai Film Festival (MFF). They skipped it last year because some of the likely male panellists were facing groping and molestation charges, but it came back this year with renewed vigour. Mela is Hindi/Urdu for feast/carnival. It is held in the shape of interviews/interactions between...
 

13.10.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival with Star begins on the 17th of October

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Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival with Star begins on the 17th of October The platform announced its stellar film and talent line-up for the upcoming edition at a press conference held at JW Marriott, Juhu, on 30 September. The below report is based on their press release, as this correspondent was not invited to the event, which was attended by MAMI Board of Trustees: Zoya Akhtar, Vishal Bhardwaj, Siddharth Roy-Kapur, Rohan Sippy, Ajay Bijli, along with Festival Director Anupama Chopra, and Arti...
 

11.10.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Gemini Man, Review: Clone arranger

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Gemini Man, Review: Clone arranger Ang Lee directed this poor man’s James Bondage? The man who made Eat Drink Man Woman, Sense and Sensibility, Crouching Tiger--Hidden Dragon, Brokeback Mountain and Life of Pi? No, this is the Ang Lee who made Hulk, which earned twice its cost. A VFX delight, Gemini Man is about a clone on a mission to kill a man who is a professional killer, and is also the man he was cloned from. The movie disappoints, with a below par screenplay, and few impressive d...
 

11.10.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Diego Maradona, Review: Feet of gold, hand of God

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Diego Maradona, Review: Feet of gold, hand of God Amy got him the Academy Award. Senna got him the BAFTA. And now, Diego Maradona has raked in £ 2.2 mn, since its release in June, which is a welcome collection for any docu-feature. Asif Kapadia has now won three matches in a row. And by convincing margins, at that. By definition, a documentary appeals to niche audiences only. Though football is the most popular team sport in the world, it is not the numero uno sport in India, unlike Ar...
 

10.10.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

My friend, Vijoo

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My friend, Vijoo Of his reported 440 film count, I shared screen space with the late Vijoo Khote in only two. Yet, I could call myself his friend. During the 1970s and 80s, the refrain I often heard from producers and directors whom I approached for acting assignments was, “You are an educated man. Why are you pursuing a career meant for ‘good-for-nothing-else’ types?” Obviously, I saw no merit in this facetious argument. Nevertheless, in an active career of 26 years, ...
 

06.10.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy, Review: Per capita

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Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy, Review: Per capita “This Gandhi Jayanti, India unites to fight,” declares a large card on the trailer of Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy. Mohandas Karamchand ‘Mahatma’ Gandhi (born 02 October 1869) was the father of the nation and an apostle of peace and non-violence. ‘Jayanti’(in Hindi) refers to his 150th birth anniversary, which is being celebrated with many campaigns across the country, like  voluntary service to society, cleanline...
 

02.10.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

10th Jagran Film Festival, Mumbai-I: Sweet and sour, like the candy of the sponsor

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10th Jagran Film Festival, Mumbai-I: Sweet and sour, like the candy of the sponsor Accreditation as a media-person was not a problem, this year, probably due to the intervention of the Principal Correspondent of Jagran, Ms. Smita Srivastava. Jagran is a media major, and this was the tenth Jagran Film Festival (JFF) they held across India, culminating at Mumbai. It was a short festival, lasting just four days, with screenings and sessions at the four auditoria of Cinépolis (once known a...
 

01.10.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

IPTA’s 48th ICDC: Testament to teenage talent

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IPTA’s 48th ICDC: Testament to teenage talent An inter-collegiate short Hindustani (Hindi/Urdu) drama competition (ICDC), introduced by the Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA) 47 years ago, has captured the imagination of budding talent in Mumbai’s colleges. It was this contest that has given us actors like Aamir Khan, Kunal Khemu, Neha Sharad, Channa Ruparel and Deven Bhojani. The 48th edition took place, as usual, in September, attracting 23 entries from local educa...
 

30.09.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Hustlers, Review: Hurt people hurt people, butt naturally

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  Very few films showcase so much of the female anatomy for so much screen time, with the barest possible ‘coverage’, while highlighting the lives and life-styles of pole/lap-dancers/strippers. Hustlers does all that and adds a new twist to the scenario by adding a hustle to their bustle trade, drugging, conning and blackmailing their clients, to rip off thousands of dollars from their credit cards. It’s a dirty game, played with one-sided rules, providing some vicarious ...
 

30.09.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Prassthanam, Review: Loyalty, integrity and legacy, to see or not to see, that is the question

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Prassthanam, Review: Loyalty, integrity and legacy, to see or not to see, that is the question When you have classics like the Mahabharat, Ramayan and Shakespeare’s works, why look elsewhere for inspiration? Update the setting and references but retain the blood and gore, conceit and deceit, loyalty and betrayal, vice and avarice, and above all, good and evil. You now have a story that every lover of mythology, every cinephile identifies with, and the figure could be well above a billio...
 

21.09.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

The Zoya Factor, Review: Cricket superstitions, and bowling a ‘maiden’ over

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The Zoya Factor, Review: Cricket superstitions, and bowling a ‘maiden’ over It’s a romantic comedy about cricket, superstition and finding your soulmate after several heart-breaks. Strange bedfellows? Not if you know your cricket, appreciate the quirky beliefs of cricketers and can empathise with a woman who has been dumped several times, yet dreams of finding Mr. Right very soon. All three angles are developed substantially, yet something is missing. Perhaps, unlike all the...
 

21.09.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Rambo-Last Blood: Rambo No. 5

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Rambo-Last Blood: Rambo No. 5 On its last legs, rather last leg, the Rambo series takes one last shot at the franchise, extending its title from the 1982 sample, First Blood. Nobody can quarrel with this confessional finality of the moniker of Last Blood, which could not but be the last poke of the syringe, or a last bow to the bow, in a subject that has already drained itself out, and badly needed a transfusion to save itself. If Last Blood is that transfusion, it is contaminated, for it is ...
 

20.09.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

The Family Man: Say Hi, to the middle-class guy, who’s a world class spy

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The Family Man: Say Hi, to the middle-class guy, who’s a world class spy National award winner for acting (films) and Padma Shri (civilian honour) awardee Manoj Bajpayee (Satya, Gangs of Wasseypur-1, Bhonsle) makes his digital debut in the eagerly anticipated Amazon Original series, The Family Man, which releases 20 September on Amazon Prime Video. Created by producer-director duo of Raj & DK (Raj Nidimoru & Krishna DK; Shor in the City, Happy Ending, Stree), The Family Man wil...
 

18.09.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Dream Girl, Review: Lady Boy’s multiple nightmares

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Dream Girl, Review: Lady Boy’s multiple nightmares Can one accuse film-makers of misleading audiences by describing their films as anything but what they really are? Dream Girl, dubbed ‘family entertainer by its makers,’ panders to below the belt viewers and frustrated loners, under the garb of showcasing the lead actor’s mimicking talent, and providing a telephonic helpline to lonely hearts. It is a series of stand-up comic jokes, with one-liners, puns and double ente...
 

13.09.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Badshaah Pahelwan, Review: There’s a brown wrestler in the boxing ring, tra la la la la

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Badshaah Pahelwan, Review: There’s a brown wrestler in the boxing ring, tra la la la la When director of photography S. Krishna turned producer just over two years ago, vicariously, through his wife, Swapna, having directed two action genre films, he decided to make his third film in nine Indian languages. Down the line, he settled for five, with the original in his native Kannada, and dubbed versions in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam. Rather ambitious of Krishna, considering the fi...
 

13.09.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Chhichhore, Review: Posers for losers, choosers and imposers

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Chhichhore, Review: Posers for losers, choosers and imposers Few ideas would be more contradictory than a parent’s attempt to revive his dying son by calling his college mates to the Intensive Care Unit of a posh hospital and collectively narrating to him, in some detail, their recollections of the hellcyon days they spent in a college hostel, as a bunch of slimy, gooey, swearing, cheating, boozing, smoking, rude, flippant, frivolous ‘losers’. All this is done in the hope th...
 

07.09.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Saaho, Review: Posture Boys

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Saaho, Review: Posture Boys Grand emptiness fills the screen as the Saaho saga unfolds. There is a semblance of a plot and a picture post-card collage of both serene and breath-taking visuals. However, most unfortunately, the most crucial element of a well-crafted film, story-telling, is at a discount. Gory and one-sided fights, a floating, free-falling and soaring mortal superhero, and flesh flaunting femme fatales cannot compensate for flimsy premises and disbelief inviting sequences. Prit...
 

30.08.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

47 Meters Down-Uncaged, Review: Shallow Attempt at Hollow Horror

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This underwater horror-survival movie takes its cameras and main cast down 47 meters (going by the title) and discovers a Mayan labyrinth of caves and cages. When one cage is broken open, out come deadly sharks. Oh, they are as blind as dead bats, but as hungry as whale-sized ravens. Why did four teenage girls venture into uncharted oceanic depths, and will any of them re-surface alive? To find out, you will have to endure some amateurish story-telling and some cyclical, repetitive scares. Mi...
 

29.08.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Bhonsle, Review: Cinema of no escape

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A maker with a penchant for addressing social and sociological malaises tries his hand at the intra-nation village/small town to big city trans-migration issue in India, as seen through three different angles, by inhabitants of a Mumbai chawl (shanty/slum). Though Bhonsle is largely realistic cinema, Devashish Makhija, nevertheless, bends his treatment occasionally, to use tropes to move the story forward. The result is an above average film that has enough merit to be watchable on its own, bu...
 

26.08.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Angry Birds Movie 2, Review: And angry birdwatchers 2

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Angry Birds Movie 2, Review: And angry birdwatchers 2 To even begin getting lightly entertained, you will have to sit through the first twenty minutes of Angry Birds Movie 2, which are a cacophonic assault on your senses. During this testing time, you are served a machine-gun fire recap and a kind of general introduction to the birds and pigs that are going to play out a tale of spurned birdy love and its calamitous consequences. Proceedings do get more and more tolerable, and offer a modicum...
 

24.08.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Angel Has Fallen, Review: Dad’s Bad, Banning’s Mad, Jennings’s Glad

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Angel Has Fallen, Review: Dad’s Bad, Banning’s Mad, Jennings’s Glad Angel here is the guardian angel of the President of the United States of America, and fallen refers to his being critically wounded and, allegedly, falling from grace. So much for ethereal and angelic interpretations of the title. Now, the subject: it is a run-of-the-mill ‘cop injured in attempt to murder a VVIP that kills all others except him, falsely accused of attempted murder, discredited, arrest...
 

22.08.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Crawl, Review: Alligator…will it get her?

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Crawl, Review: Alligator…will it get her? If you were to consider making a film about a creature that has equally or more lethal Jaws than sharks, you would have little problem coming up with the alligator. In fact, it is a more dangerous and slimy looking being than the shark. An alligator’s jaw exerts 1,342 kg of pressure, giving it the most powerful bite ever recorded in a living animal. It can swim at 32.18km/hr, faster than the Olympic record. And the fact that it is an amph...
 

22.08.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Yomeddine, Review: Disability or this ability?

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Yomeddine, Review: Disability or this ability? Unlikely companions embark on an impossible journey, to trace their roots, hundreds of miles away, on a donkey cart, with little money and barest of supplies. Both, the journey and the destination, hold many surprises for the two, some pleasant, some very unpleasant. On the way, they offer you a tribute to the indomitable human spirit, but also make you realise that in a society of regulars and normals, the irregular and abnormal cannot find thei...
 

20.08.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Batla House, Review: Policeman with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

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Batla House, Review: Policeman with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Distinguishing one police thriller from another is becoming an increasingly difficult task. He is part of an incident/encounter that results in deaths of alleged criminals. The officer’s marital life is disrupted due to his erratic working hours and heavy post-traumatic stress. Having had enough, the wife threatens to leave him. The incident creates controversy and he runs afoul of the powers that be. Most of his higher-...
 

15.08.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Review: Good, but not as Tarantino was, once upon a time

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Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Review: Good, but not as Tarantino was, once upon a time It is inspired by the murders of actress Sharon Tate and her friends at the hands of a hippy cult in 1969, only the film re-writes this historical fact. It is inspired by the super-hit spaghetti Westerns of the mid to late 60s, led by Italian director Sergio Leone, only he is never mentioned in the film. It is a satirical take on martial arts’ ‘God’ Bruce Lee, but takes an amazingly unfla...
 

13.08.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, Review: The spirit of Sarah Bellows, and the trauma of teenage fellows

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Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, Review: The spirit of Sarah Bellows, and the trauma of teenage fellows Though the voice-over insists that stories hurt and stories heal, and that if they are repeated very often, they become true, any amount of repetition will not succeed in making Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark seem anything like real. Hurt, it does, heal, I wonder! It’s a horror story, pure and simple, or, rather, neither very pure nor very simple. A 70 year-old mansion has its se...
 

09.08.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Jabariya Jodi, Review: Scaring, paring and pairing

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Jabariya Jodi, Review: Scaring, paring and pairing Imagine a country where dowry demands are the bane. Imagine a state in that country where the demands of families of educated and gainfully employed men of marriageable age range in the region of one to ten million bucks. Now imagine a gang that kidnaps such extortionist grooms and marries them off to the hapless women, at gunpoint, after giving them the treatment. Jodi, literally, means a ‘pair’ or ‘couple’, in Urdu a...
 

09.08.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Dora and the Lost City of Gold, Review: Adorable Dora, the explora

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Dora and the Lost City of Gold, Review: Adorable Dora, the explora Dora is shown first as a six-year old, living in the forest with her explorer parents, and then as a sixteen year-old, studying in high school. That is highly appropriate, because Dora and the Lost City of Gold has something for all those who are in the age-group of 6-16, and some more for the older folks, who have seen 17 or more summers. The film is largely driven by the actress playing Dora, who is simply scintillating. TV...
 

08.08.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Khandaani Shafakhana, Review: Familial Clinic, Unfamiliar picnic

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Khandaani Shafakhana, Review: Familial Clinic, Unfamiliar picnic A title like that would suggest a medical practice that has been in the business for generations and garnered a formidable reputation of efficacy in treatment. Khandaani Shafakhana (Urdu for Familial Clinic) is not about any such practice. The subject is sex, in general, and the distressing conditions of erectile dysfunction and lack of libido in particular. Okay, so they have a misleading title. You could overlook this fact if ...
 

03.08.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Chase--No Mercy to Crime, Review: Robbing trains for electoral gains

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Chase--No Mercy to Crime, Review: Robbing trains for electoral gains A taut crime thriller in the making, Chase: No Mercy to Crime proceeds at a languorous pace that is quickened only by some rapid cuts and jerky pans. It is based on true events that spanned two Indian states, and the criminals-police chase crossed into Nepal and Thailand too. But, unless the thrills are present and confined to the first few scenes, which I missed due to awful road traffic, the film ends up being a routine cr...
 

03.08.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Ash is Purest White, Review: Never Love a Gangster

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Ash is Purest White, Review: Never Love a Gangster Ash is Purest White is a tale of unrequited love that flows seamlessly along the backdrop of the socio-political upheavals in China, during 2001-18. It is an ode to old-fashioned love, set amidst gangsters and con-artistes, making two, revolutionary, and highly controversial, observations: gangster mobs are the last vestiges of loyalty and righteousness, and men are incapable of reciprocating women’s sublime love. Qiao (Zhao Tao) lives...
 

30.07.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Family of Thakurganj, Review: Nannu, Munnu and nothing New, New

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Family of Thakurganj, Review: Nannu, Munnu and nothing New, New Referencing dozens of mafia/gangster movies made in India and the West, Family of Thakurganj glorifies crime for the major part, gets into a conscientious hiccup and sermonising after the midway mark, and ends-up offering ‘crime kills crime’ as a solution against the rot of corruption that has set in the entire fabric of the Indian police/law/politics nexus. Except for a couple of twists in the plot, there is little t...
 

19.07.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Jabariya Jodi, First look: Swinging infection

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Jabariya Jodi, First look: Swinging infection Jodi, literally, means a pair, in Urdu and Hindi. It also refers to husband and wife. Jabar or jabr is force, and jabariya, by extension, means forced or forcibly formed. So, we now understand the title of the upcoming film Jabariya Jodi to mean ‘Forced Couple’. As indicated above, the inference here is that the husband and wife were forced into matrimony. Nothing earth-shaking about it, in a country where thousands of such marriages t...
 

18.07.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

The Lion King, Review: The Lions Sing

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For a film production company that has been in the animation business for 90 years, and earned its initial popularity by creating Mickey Mouse, making a film, replete with state-of-the-art, photorealistic computer images of a host of animals and birds, has to be basic instinct. That it tells the story of lions, hyenas, vultures, and other creatures whose names one needs to look-up in Google, or Oxford or Cambridge or Merriam Webster dictionaries, that possess human instinct rather than animal ...
 

17.07.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Super 30, Review: Inequality, equality and variable quality

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Super 30, Review: Inequality, equality and variable quality Two basic tenets form the paradigm of Super 30: a real-life story about a nondescript do-gooder who is a super achiever must strike a chord with audiences, and, secondly, any tale of a low caste and poverty-stricken protagonist, sacrificing his lady love and filthy lucre for the cause of educating fellow under-privileged ‘untouchables’ in his society, will have them rooting for the unlikely hero. How these doctrines pan o...
 

12.07.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

ConnecTechAsia 2019, 10: Recap

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ConnecTechAsia 2019, 10: Recap ConnecTechAsia, comprising BroadcastAsia, CommunicAsia and NXTAsia, wrapped-up on 20th June, drawing 38,000 attendees and 1,700 exhibitors, over two venues, Marina Bay Sands and Suntec City, Singapore. The event unfolded over three days of networking, announcements, thought leadership keynotes and discussions, showcases on the latest innovations and trends, including 5G, AI, IoT, Smart Cities, next-generation broadcasting and more. Highlights this year inclu...
 

08.07.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Marudhar Express, Review: Chain reaction

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Marudhar Express, Review: Chain reaction You might need to look-up the meaning of Marudhar, even if you are a native Hindi speaker. It refers to the Marwar area of Rajasthan, and the Express is a train that runs between Varanasi, in Uttar Pradesh, and Jodhpur (Rajasthan), touching Lucknow and Kanpur, the two biggest cities in UP, with Allahabad (now renamed PrayaagRaaj) being the third. Now, lest you begin to think that this film is a travelogue or that events take place on the said train, le...
 

07.07.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Hume Tumse Pyar Kitna, Review: Limerence, belligerence and incoherence

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Hume Tumse Pyar Kitna, Review: Limerence, belligerence and incoherence A clutch of songs, exquisitely picturised, with little or no lip sync, linked together by a skeletal story about obsessive love, came to Mumbai cinemas today under the title Hume Tumse Pyar Kitna (How Much Do I Love You). Taken from a hit number from the film Kudrat that was popular in the early 80s, the title of the film is appropriate, and the original song itself occurs several times in the film, on the radio, or as a ...
 

06.07.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

One Day Justice Delivered, Review: Perhaps, but not today

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One Day Justice Delivered, Review: Perhaps, but not today A judge dispensing justice by extra-judicial means immediately after retirement is not a common theme in Hindi films, and the novelty is undeniable. Sadly, that is just about where the merits of this film rest. Actors ham, the script meanders, co-incidences abound, dialogue disappoints and the climactic twist is of no consequence. One Day Justice Delivered espouses a noble cause but does more disservice than service to it. Ranchi High...
 

06.07.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Spider-man--Far From Home, Review: PP, HH, Ray, May, MJ, Ned, E.D.I.T.H., Nick and Beck

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Spider-man--Far From Home, Review: PP, HH, Ray, May, MJ, Ned, E.D.I.T.H., Nick and Beck Can a pulsating teenage romance between a super-hero’s alter ego and a beautiful schoolmate over-ride inherent flaws in a film’s scripting and logic? Is the inability to go “aw..so cute!” every time you see an awkward boy mustering up the courage to approach his love interest, to utter the three magic words, a sign of aging and fossilisation? Is the need to look beyond the obvious, ...
 

06.07.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Malaal, Review: Tragic love saga, with cause for introspection, and some regret

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Malaal, Review: Tragic love saga, with cause for introspection, and some regret Sanjay Leela Bhansali, producer-director of many a box-office mojo-maker and purveyor of a certain kind of stylised cinema, picks a 2004 Tamil film and sets it in 1998, the year of Titanic, and his own Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. If you can take a hint, three in this case, you will know that this is going to be a romantic tale of a disparate couple, with a tragic ending. That he casts two debutants and asks another d...
 

05.07.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

ConnecTechAsia 2019, 09: Hughes JUPITER System Chosen by 5 Service Providers to Power Satellite Broadband Services throughout In

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Previous reports: ConnectTechAsia  8 I 7 I 6 I 5 I 4 I 3 I 2 I 1    Hughes Network Systems, LLC (HUGHES), the global leader in broadband satellite networks and services, today announced that its JUPITER™ System platform has been selected by five service providers to help bridge the digital divide across Indonesia. The service providers--including Lintasarta,  Pasifik Satelit Nusantara (PSN), Te...
 

03.07.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

ConnecTechAsia 2019, 08: WarnerMedia chooses AsiaSat as strategic partner for HD channels distribution in Asia Pacific

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ConnecTechAsia 2019, 08: WarnerMedia chooses AsiaSat as strategic partner for HD channels distribution in Asia Pacific Asia Satellite Telecommunications Company Limited (AsiaSat) has been selected by WarnerMedia as a strategic partner for distributing regional HD services of CNN International, Cartoon Network, Boomerang and Warner TV, as well as HBO HD in South Asia, via AsiaSat 7 in the Asia-Pacific. AsiaSat has been distributing a total of five WarnerMedia SD channels on AsiaSat 7 (previou...
 

03.07.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

ConnecTechAsia 2019, 07: Hoods Inc. Productions Powers its New Modern Media Operation with EditShare

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ConnecTechAsia 2019, 07: Hoods Inc. Productions Powers its New Modern Media Operation with EditShare EditShare, a technology leader in intelligent scale-out storage, AQC and media management solutions, announced last month that Singapore-based Hoods Inc. Productions (Hoods Inc.) has designed its next-generation media operation around EditShare media solutions, putting XStream EFS scale-out shared storage, Flow production asset management and Ark archiving and backup at the core of its media p...
 

03.07.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Shoplifters, Review: Only those who cannot study at home need to go to school

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Shoplifters, Review: Only those cannot study at home need to go to school Through many decades, albeit once in a while, a Japanese film comes up in the rich tradition of Frank Capra, Vittorio De Sica, Satyajit Ray, Ritwick Ghatak, Mrinal Sen, and the better films of Hrishikesh Mukherjee. Back in the 30s, 40s and 50s, in the days of Yasujirō Ozu and Mikio Naruse, it was called neo-realistic cinema. Most of these films were made with non-star casts, on shoe-string budgets, had realistic styles...
 

03.07.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

The Promise of Heaven, Play review: The buffoon as philosopher

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The Promise of Heaven, Play review: The buffoon as philosopher Viagra in heaven, virgins, virgin-swapping, deflowered virgins re-virginating, really long-lasting erections, homosexuality, masturbation with a prop, sexually stimulating deodorants…what is this play about? (Kashmiri/IS) Suicide bombers. Yes, you read that right. But it is equally about all of the above, and in good measure. Having restricted entry to adults, writer-director Kamlesh Acharya has a field day playing with the...
 

02.07.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Aarohi, Review: Play about decadence, women’s empowerment and good v/s evil

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Aarohi, Review: Play about decadence, women’s empowerment and good v/s evil A Kinkini Production, Aarohi had its premiere show on Saturday, 29th June, at St. Andrew's Auditorium, Bandra, Mumbai. It is an ode to the classical Indian dance form of kathak and its exponents, weaved into a narrative that brings in other societal evils into focus, like the maltreatment of women, equality of all citizens and moral values, like truth and honesty. During the 19th and 20th century, there was...
 

01.07.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Amazon Prime Video launching all-new season of original series Comicstaan, unveils trailer

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Amazon Prime Video launching all-new season of original series Comicstaan, unveils trailer Comicstaan becomes the first Indian Amazon Original to launch a second season, which comes as part of Prime Day 2019 celebrations. The first three episodes of the much-awaited second season of Comicstaan are set to release on July 12, 2019, followed by a weekly release, only on Prime Video. Ace comedians like Zakir Khan, Neeti Palta and Season 1 host, Sumukhi Suresh, join veteran judges Biswa Kaylan R...
 

29.06.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Noblemen, Review: Merchant of menace

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Noblemen, Review: Merchant of menace Children in a classy public school are preparing a play for Founders’ Day, and the work chosen for the occasion is William Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice. Our protagonist has been selected to play Bassanio, after an audition, and is waiting anxiously for the staging. His mother, a former Wing Commander, now confined to a wheel-chair, is likely to be cured in a short time, and hopes to attend her son’s big day, for the first time ever. O...
 

28.06.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Article 15, Review: Beatings, gang-rapes, murder and other factual fiction

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Article 15, Review: Beatings, gang-rapes, murder and other factual fiction Part III, Fundamental Rights, Rights to Equity, Article 15, of the Indian Constitution, declares that, ‘The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them.’ It further proclaims that citizens too shall not discriminate against each other on these bases, and specifies the areas with regard to which there cannot be any discriminati...
 

28.06.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

ConnecTechAsia 2019, 02: Techtel to address key business drivers with global leaders at BroadcastAsia

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ConnecTechAsia 2019, 02: Techtel to address key business drivers with global leaders at BroadcastAsia Representing nine global industry leaders, Techtel will be showcasing a great number of broadcast technology innovations, with special emphasis on five key business drivers: Transition to IP-Based content delivery, Autonomous workflows, 4K Content Production, Unprecedented Low Cost Media Distribution and Integrated Newsrooms. This follows Techtel’s appointment of a new country manager,...
 

11.06.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

ConnnecTechAsia 2019, 06: NSSLGlobal to showcase its innovative maritime portfolio at CommunicAsia

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ConnnecTechAsia 2019, 06: NSSLGlobal to showcase its innovative maritime portfolio at CommunicAsia Award-winning global satcom and IT solutions provider NSSLGlobal will be returning to CommunicAsia from 18th--20th June at the Marina Bay Sands, Singapore. The three-day event will see NSSLGlobal continuing its 50th anniversary celebrations and sharing its industry-leading connectivity and management IT solutions, engineered to enhance connectivity for maritime vessels across the globe. NSSLG...
 

10.06.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

ConnecTechAsia 2019, 05: Revisiting the Marketing Mix in the Digital Age

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ConnecTechAsia 2019, 05: Revisiting the Marketing Mix in the Digital Age The marketing mix of Price, Product, Place, and Promotion has evolved. While classic strategies are often still in play, digitisation has arrived to shake things up in the world of branding. The marketing mix as a concept still holds weight today because it is a series of actions that form a plan to drive revenue and growth. Despite business change, the 4 Ps still require keen scrutiny, market research and competitive an...
 

07.06.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

ConnecTechAsia 2019, 04: EditShare to Showcase Lineup of Media Workflow Solutions

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ConnecTechAsia 2019, 04: EditShare to Showcase Lineup of Media Workflow Solutions EditShare, a technology leader in intelligent scale-out storage, media asset management (MAM) and automated quality control (AQC), will be displaying the sought-after solutions HelmutFX, a back-office solution that provides Adobe Premiere Pro CC projects and users management via EditShare Flow, and VBox, the next generation ‘Channel-in-a-Box’ playout automation system, at this year’s BroadcastA...
 

06.06.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

X Men-Dark Phoenix, Review: X-Men, ex X-Men and X-Women

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X Men-Dark Phoenix, Review: X-Men, ex X-Men and X-Women Every fan knows that the X in X-Men is for Xavier, the teacher-trainer who runs a school for the differently abled (gifted with a power or force other humans do not possess). In Dark Phoenix, there is a lot of play on the ‘word’, if one may call it that, X-Men. There are X-Men, and there are ex X-Men, then there are women members of X-Men who tell Xavier disparagingly that he should consider changing the name to X-Women, in v...
 

06.06.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

ConnecTechAsia, 03: Eutelsat, KT Sat, NAGRA and Teledyne at ConnecTechASia, Singapore, June 18-20

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ConnecTechAsia, 03: Eutelsat, KT Sat, NAGRA and Teledyne at ConnecTechASia, Singapore, June 18-20 Eutelsat CIRRUS is the reliable, high quality and cost-effective answer to get your content into more people’s homes. • Deliver consistent quality content to your customers, anytime, anywhere, on any screen • Fully supported, off-the-shelf system with continuous innovation guaranteed • Modular approach designed to meet your requirements. Eutelsat CIRRUS will reduce the te...
 

04.06.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

ConnecTechAsia 2019, 01: Singapore to host ConnecTechAsia during June 18-20

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ConnecTechAsia 2019, 01: Singapore to host ConnecTechAsia during June 18-20 Bringing together BroadcastAsia, CommunicAsia and NXTAsia across two centrally located venues, the iconic Marina Bay Sands Exhibition Centre and the old favourite, SunTec Singapore, ConnecTechAsia showcases state-of-the-art communication, enterprise, broadcast technologies and innovations. Coupled with a supercharged agenda, with renowned speakers, at ConnecTechAsia Summit, and a host of experiential activities, Conne...
 

04.06.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Anahita’s Law, Review: Parsee patriarchy, woes of women and law of the land

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Anahita’s Law, Review: Parsee patriarchy, woes of women and law of the land Discrimination against women, and children of mixed religion marriages, are not phenomena that stare us in the face, like some of the basic needs of mankind: food, clothing and shelter. It is not even a second tier priority, like electricity, roads and water are. In a country struggling to provide these amenities to its population of 1.6 bn, implementing the fundamental right to practice the religion of your cho...
 

04.06.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Rocketman, Review: Messed-up multi-millionaire music-maestro

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Rocketman, Review: Messed-up multi-millionaire music-maestro Film-makers now need to ask themselves whether it makes good sense to churn out bio-pics with regular frequency. Does the genre hold enough promise to deliver quality cinema? In recent times, many of them are guilty of picking eminent personalities from films and music, with common traits, like troubled childhood, inability to handle fame and fortune, sexual mania or alternative sexual behaviour, and drug abuse. The phenomenon is co...
 

31.05.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Naughty Gang, Review: Gang apes

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Naughty Gang, Review: Gang apes We keep hearing at every seminar or conference that with the advances in technology, anybody, just anybody, can make a film. In various Indian film schools too, film-making has been so vehemently de-mystified that every year some 10,000 students pass out and are ready to shoot from the hip, the hip being where they keep their mobile phones. It is a no contest. If a 22-23 year-old fresher can make films, why can’t those who have been around on the fringes,...
 

30.05.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Nakkash/The Craftsman, Review: Balancing Dharma with Karma

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Nakkash/The Craftsman, Review: Balancing Dharma with Karma Carving is a fine art that is dying, like many other man-made enterprises, what with mechanisation and changing tastes. One can see many shops along the Bandra-Mahim Causeway in Mumbai run by hand-carvers, who sell exquisite furniture. And if you take the film Nakkash, described as fiction, to represent the state of this dying art in the holy city of Banaras-Kashi (Varanasi), even the last expert who carved many a mandir (Hindu temple...
 

30.05.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Ahaa Re (The Two Lovers/Oh, Look at You), Review: Castle of love on bedrock of food

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Ahaa Re (The Two Lovers/Oh, Look at You), Review: Castle of love on bedrock of food When you want to make a film about love, lost and found, romance, sublime and selfless, it is a good idea not to include components like villains, fights, item songs, crude comedy, sexual overtones and foul language. So what do you fill your screenplay with? How about conflicts and disparities, of many hues and various proportions? And food? Yes, food. Well if you are a foodie, and a romantic foodie, then why ...
 

26.05.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Life in Metaphors-Portraits of Girish Kasaravalli, by O.P. Srivastava: Well framed!

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Life in Metaphors-Portraits of Girish Kasaravalli, by O.P. Srivastava: Well framed! A banker with a passion of cinema, Om Prakash Srivastava hung up his ATM to pursue his dream. In 2012, he attended a course in Film Appreciation at Goa, organised by the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), where an ex alumnus and India’s most decorated film-maker, Girish Kasaravalli was taking a master class on film-making. OP was so impressed with the demeanour and erudition of his teacher an...
 

25.05.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Brightburn, Review: Stay non-aliened

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Brightburn, Review: Stay non-aliened Comic-book creators took Moses as inspiration and wrote out a character called Superman, who arrives on earth as a baby, in a spaceship, from a planet called Krypton, is adopted by a childless couple, shows super powers and grows up to save the world from crisis after crisis. Soon, Superboy, who grew up to be Superman, became an on screen superhero, and a cult figure from the DC comics stable. He even joined hands with other superheroes on occasion and ba...
 

25.05.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Yeh Hai India, Review: NREye

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Yeh Hai India, Review: NREye Indians settled abroad are called Non-Resident Indians, or NRIs. Not surprisingly, many of them still nurse feelings of love for the land of their birth, or of their fathers, and the often feel guilty pangs of separation from their motherland. Actor-producer-writer-director Manoj Kumar (real name Harikishen Goswami) made some hard hitting and box-office shattering patriotic films in the 60s and 70s, right till the early 80s, that earned him the epithet of Mr. Bhar...
 

24.05.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Aladdin, Review: Aladdindeed

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Aladdin, Review: Aladdindeed Believe it or not, Aladdin is a one-in-a-thousand-and-one story, part of The Thousand and One Nights (also called The Arabian Nights), stories narrated by a queen called Scheherazade, at bedtime, without revealing the end, to save herself from being killed by her husband, the murderous sadist who kills all his wives the day after he marries each one of them. Disney made an animated version in 1992, and here comes their live action CGI, musical avatar, directed and...
 

24.05.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

India’s Most Wanted, Review: Mission without ammunition, found wanting

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India’s Most Wanted, Review: Mission without ammunition, found wanting Indian spy thrillers have been on the scene ever since the first film of James from Thames was released in India in the early 1960s. They were broadly divided into categories: rip-offs of 007 and C grade thrillers, with action and a bit of titillation. Remarkably, some of them even managed to incorporate catchy songs into the narrative. In the last two decades, after international terrorism, other than the eternal bo...
 

24.05.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Salman and Katrina come to Bharat

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Salman and Katrina come to Bharat Hotel Taj Land’s End, Bandra, is about 500 metres from where Indian superstar Salman Khan resides. It would take him exactly five minutes to walk to the venue, or two minutes on cycle, cycling being among his favourite indulgences. So why did he arrive at 2 pm for the launch of his home production, Bharat’s, title song, when the time on the invitation was indicated first as 11.30 pm and later delayed by half-an-hour? Only he knows. His fans and mo...
 

21.05.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Kavita Kaushik in a Pajama Party without pajamas

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Kavita Kaushik in a Pajama Party without pajamas Pajama Party is a quaint, albeit oddball, title for a play about women empowerment. It was premièred at the thoroughly renovated, grand, regal Royal Opera House, in South Mumbai, on Saturday, 18 May 2019. And I had the privilege of being offered a seat in the first row, which I prudently turned down, to opt for a more vantage point in the third row. The play is in Hinglish and marks the stage debut of TV actresses Kavita Kaushik (CID, FIR,...
 

20.05.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

John Wick 3-Parabellum, Review: Wicktory is yours

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John Wick 3-Parabellum, Review: Wicktory is yours Break neck, break arm, break leg, and break everything action, in all forms of martial, some pre-martial and some post partial arts, glass and furniture, horses galloping, cars and bikes strewn all over the place, one unstoppable man-machine that’s a treat for action lovers, whether Wicked fans or non-wicked. A good example of the benefits reaped by turning to the creator-writer, (co) director and star who put together the first and seco...
 

18.05.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

A Dog’s Journey, Review: Dogfather

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A Dog’s Journey, Review: Dogfather However incredible this may sound, Hollywood has made a film in the traditions of Wadia, Devar and Bokadia, Indian film-makers who dealt with themes involving animals, their exploits, their torture at the hands of human beasts and their faithfulness to their owner and his/her family. A Dog’s Journey is not so much about canine exploits as it is about a dog’s faithfulness, with generous aid from the almighty, who has been falsely accused of ...
 

17.05.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

De De Pyaar De, Review: Differential calculus

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De De Pyaar De, Review: Differential calculus Some films begin on a positive note, start developing into potential winners, and then squander it all away, with inane, inept, insane, insipid, inchoate, infeasible, indifferent, inexcusable, incongruous and inconsequential writing. Most likely inspired by a play, American or Indianised, or a Hollywood romantic comedy, De De Pyaar De (Give Me, Give Me Your Love) begins with a newish take on the age-old plank of Daddy Long Legs (1955) and Lamhe (1...
 

17.05.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Student of the Year-2, Review: Kya baddi kya baddi

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Student of the Year-2, Review: Kya baddi kya baddi Kya baddi Karan Johar, what was the earth-shaking supersonic idea that made you cash in on the ‘The biggest franchise of Bollywood’ (imdb’s words, not mine) and redraw the Archie-Betty-Veronica isosceles triangle for the umpteenth time, after you yourself had milked it silica gel dry exactly 20 years ago, as Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (185 minutes), and launch a pomp-romp-stomp-clomp-chomp-whomp called Student of the Year 2 (mercifu...
 

11.05.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

UglyDolls, Review: I’mperfect

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UglyDolls, Review: I’mperfect Toys and dolls are inanimate objects, to which we sometimes add motion and flight, using technology. Yet, why do children, and sometimes adults, get so attached to them? Though there exist pet animals, birds and water-borne life that can be, and are often, adopted and accommodated in homes, the attraction that draws young minds, more girls than boys, to dolls, of all shapes, sizes and functions, is a force to reckon with. Most likely, the child owners of su...
 

04.05.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Setters, Review: Questionable answers

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Setters, Review: Questionable answers Job-oriented education has been a hot topic in India, where unemployment figures and poverty levels are very high. Corruption begins when a child is admitted to the kinder-garten class, with the help of a handsome bribe, euphemistically called ‘donation’. The spiral often continues till the graduation level, where the focus shifts to obtaining leaked examination papers, getting proxy candidates to appear on behalf of weak students, feeding liv...
 

03.05.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

After, Review: Noah’s arch

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After, Review: Noah’s arch Teens to twenties romances do not come to us as just pure teenage romances, which can get terribly boring. There was Love Story, with cancer as the villain, and there was Goodbye Columbus, which had a devil-may-care heroine who invites her boy-friend to live with her family and seduces him with pre-marital sex. Also in the same milieu was When Harry Met Sally, which was drawn around the premise that men and women cannot just be friends. After has a girl brough...
 

03.05.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Tarpan, Review: Pride and prejudice

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Tarpan, Review: Pride and prejudice To draw even minimal audiences, films like Tarpan need three boosters: positive reviews, film festivals exposure and word-of-mouth publicity. They pick up dark subjects, rooted in current ground reality, write them for the screen in the realistic mode, stick as far as possible to factual references as against a fictional narrative, cast unknown or at least relatively unknown actors who would nevertheless deliver, retain a technical team that can put-togethe...
 

27.04.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Avengers, Endgame: Thanostradamus

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Avengers, Endgame: Thanostradamus As star casts go, Avengers: Endgame runs up a mind-boggling score. Like in theatrical performances, where all characters come on to the stage after the performance to take a bow, Endgame brings them all on screen, even resurrecting the dead, in a show of ultimate strength, before their nemesis is vanquished. Just as it takes two lives to conquer the dark force, the dark force itself needs to be conquered not once but twice. It is ingenious writing, to lay out...
 

26.04.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Kalank, Review: Masochistic miasma

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Kalank, Review: Masochistic miasma Everything in Kalank (blemish, stigma) is grand, both in content and in form. Sets and décor, riches and poverty, locales and vehicles, make-up and costumes, dances and fights, colours and luminance, all are designed to make your jaw drop in awe. All this opulence is merely the canvas on which a heart-wrenching tragedy is painted, around the time of India’s partition, with the entire ensemble cast at the receiving end of a woeful operatic wail, ...
 

18.04.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Seasoned with Love: The last suppers

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Seasoned with Love: The last suppers How long does it take to commit two murders and get away unscathed? Fourteen minutes, according to director Lakshmi R. Iyer. Infidelity and Murder are the flavours of the season, what with the feature Andhadhun and the short The Perfect Murder. Now that the Internet provides you with a ‘How to’ kit, killing is no big deal, at least cinematically. But what fun is bumping off infidels unless they are granted their dying wish of last suppers, and ...
 

15.04.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Hellboy, Review: Unapologetic, ugly, bloody mayhem; who’s complaining?

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Hellboy, Review: Unapologetic, ugly, bloody mayhem; who’s complaining? This hell of a film, mutatis mutandis, might have come from either stable, Marvel or DC. As it happens, it owes its genesis to Dark Horse Comics graphic novels and follows on two enterprises helmed by Guillermo del Toro, in 2004 and 2008.  Del Toro was to venture into a third outing too, but that kept simmering on the back burner for a whole decade. Finally, when it saw light of day, the director’s credit ...
 

12.04.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Pet Sematary, Review: Grave errors

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Pet Sematary, Review: Grave errors Like most horror films, Pet Sematary begins with a family relocating to a remote house, near a forest, thereby extending an invitation to the supernatural to prepare a proper welcome for them. The only obvious difference is that here the spirits do not reside inside the house, but in a cemetery nearby, though the undead nevertheless float in and wreak havoc on the isolated inmates, as part of their job profile. A few genuine scares towards the end of the sto...
 

11.04.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Romeo Akbar Walter (RAW), Review: Uncooked meal, raw deal

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Romeo Akbar Walter (RAW), Review: Uncooked meal, raw deal Espionage, as a film genre, is more than 84 years old. A master, no less than Alfred Hitchcock himself, made The 39 Steps in 1935. So it is baffling that a spy thriller, made in 2017-18, is oblivious of the rudimentary ingredients entailed to engross audiences. Ennui and crawling pace are anathema to a spy story. When the yard-sticks are James Bond and even John Le Carré, a shoddy script, amateurishly executed, stands no chance ...
 

04.04.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Agnès Varda: Diminutive doyenne of the French New Wave dead at 90

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Agnès Varda: Diminutive doyenne of the French New Wave dead at 90 She would have turned 91 in two months, but breast cancer claimed her last week. The end came at her Paris home. Till the end, she remained the only female member of the French Nouvelle Vague (New Wave). Her last film was Varda by Agnès, shown at the Berlinale earlier this year. It was an unpredictable documentary from a fascinating story-teller, shedding light on her experience as a director, bringing a personal ...
 

03.04.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Fighting with My Family, Review: Soap opera in spandex

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Fighting with My Family, Review: Soap opera in spandex Somebody must tell biopic makers, especially true stories about sports personalities, that there is very little difference between one and the other. They all follow, more or less, the same road map, and get to the same place. And because these are true stories, the writers and directors do pretty little to enliven the journey, lest they be accused of taking too many liberties, or, worse, earn the ire of the personality in person, if aliv...
 

02.04.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Gully Boy Ranveer Singh launches music label, calls it IncInk

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Gully Boy Ranveer Singh launches music label, calls it IncInk You could not tell anything from the invitation, except that it was sent by YashRaj Films and had something to do with IncInk. The mystery unravelled on 29th March, at Mumbai’s Four Seasons Hotel, after a 90 minute wait. Suddenly, moviestar Ranveer Singh, who is on a roll after Gully Boy, a film in which he plays a rap-star, rolled-in to a chorus of “Baba, Baba” chants. He kept running around the hall, hugging and...
 

31.03.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Super Deluxe, Review: Super? Yes. Deluxe? No.

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Super Deluxe, Review: Super? Yes. Deluxe? No. Four plots radiate through concentric circles and are destined to coalesce one eventful day. Initially, it might trigger memories of Shawshank Redemption (1994), Pulp Fiction (1994), 3 Deewarein (2003), Love Actually (2003) and even Ghode Ko Jalebi Khilane Le Jaa Riya Hoon (2018). Think again. There are so few movies that treat their subjects in a subversive, quirky and yet painfully honest manner that you might be doing grave injustice to Super D...
 

30.03.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

National Museum of Indian Cinema: Preserving a rich heritage

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National Museum of Indian Cinema: Preserving a rich heritage Director General, Films Division (FD), Prashant Pathrabe, (above, left) addressed a press briefing on 19th March, at the FD Complex, which was followed by a tour of the National Museum of Indian Cinema (NMIC), exclusively for journalists. FD was established in 1948, to articulate the energy of a newly independent nation (India gained independence from British colonial rule in 1947). For more than six decades, the organisation has s...
 

30.03.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Junglee, Review: Don’t hunt the elephant

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Junglee, Review: Don’t hunt the elephant Every 15 minutes, one elephant is filled for its tusk. In Junglee, a prize pachyderm who inhabits a sanctuary, with tusks so long that they intersect at the edges, is targetted, by an international gang of hunter-smugglers, who hope to make a fortune by selling its ivory to a Singaporean-Chinese buyer. But when they attack the unsuspecting sanctuary-owner, they are taken on by his veterinarian son, who, when off duty, is Rambo+Bruce Lee incarnate...
 

30.03.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Dumbo, Review: Have ears, will fly

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Dumbo, Review: Have ears, will fly When they first thought of a new Dumbo, perhaps the best decision Disney and Burton made was to remake their 1941 animation film in live action, adding 3D for the heightened reality effect. The first Dumbo rescued Disney from financial disaster arising out of three previous expensive films. Its 2019 avatar has a different storyline, though the name and the basic premise—that of a baby elephant that can fly--are retained. Abounding in the usual generic ...
 

29.03.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

The Least of These, Review: More was needed

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The Least of These, Review: More was needed In India’s turbulent political climate, making a true-story movie on the life and work of a Christian Missionary who was accused of forced conversions and brutally murdered, along with his two sons, might not be such a good idea. That it is patchily made proves, once again, that all true stories are not film material, and not everybody can impart cinematic strength to powerful subjects. It is true that Australian missionary Graham Staines was...
 

27.03.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Gone Kesh, Review: The bald is the beautiful

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Gone Kesh, Review: The bald is the beautiful An English-Hindi composite pun constitutes the title, playing upon ‘gone case’, which term is used to describe someone who is so far ‘gone’ into something undesirable that there is no chance of redemption in that ‘case.’ While gone is retained as gone, case becomes kesh, the Hindi word for hair. And for once, the title has great relevance to the subject, although the film is not half as funny as the punning would...
 

27.03.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Us, Review: Shadow boxing

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Us, Review: Shadow boxing Us takes its own time in building up a premise and gives no indication that it is going to turn-out as a horror film, with macabre goings on and blood-baths included. To its credit, the film gives a whole new dimension to the genre, but having got there, it does not know what to do next. Repetition is the bane of any thriller, horrific or otherwise, and Us falls into that quagmire a little too early. Back in 1986, young Adelaide Thomas is on a vacation with her pare...
 

26.03.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Ardh Satya: Govind Nihalani revisits the time of half-truth

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Ardh Satya: Govind Nihalani revisits the time of half-truth Many things were happening in Indian cinema during the early 1980s. The National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) was financing and producing/co-producing unconventional, art-house, parallel cinema films, but also the rip roaring comedy Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro and the blockbuster, Gandhi. A theatre like Prithvi, set-up by the husband and wife duo of Shashi and Jennifer Kapoor in Mumbai, was becoming the hub of all drama activity, and p...
 

16.03.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Wonder Park, Review: Who said it can’t be done?

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Wonder Park, Review: Who said it can’t be done? Released in the USA with a PG certificate, Wonder Park is about an imaginary amusement park created by the imagination of a 10-year old girl and her mother.  It tweaks logic and science to create fantastical rides and talking animals, making conventional amusement parks look like child’s play. It’s good holiday viewing for the 5-12 age-group, with a riot of colours and exciting thrills, causing adrenaline rushes, with the ...
 

15.03.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

22 Yards, Review: Short of a length

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22 Yards, Review: Short of a length When you pitch for a film on cricket (pun intended), you better go the whole 22 yards. In cricket, the length of the pitch, from stumps at one end to stumps at the other, is all of 22 yards. That is where the main action of the game takes place. So, with a giveaway title like 22 Yards, you can expect nothing but a film on cricket. Now let me state here, for the benefit of readers from countries that do not play cricket that in India, religion, cinema and cr...
 

15.03.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Photograph, Review: Ode dear

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Photograph, Review: Ode dear If only vignettes and mosaics could add up to a good script, Photograph would look refreshingly different. If improvised dialogue and incomplete scenes could substitute for a coherent narrative, Photograph would find its place in the album of memorable cinema. Forlornly, though, Ritesh Batra’s Photograph unpeels itself like the layers of an onion, offering emptiness at the end of the exercise, instead of discovery and resonance. Arriving with a sumptuous tr...
 

15.03.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Captain Marvel, Review: Skrull duggery, the Kreeps, a charismatic cat and muddled memories

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Captain Marvel, Review: Skrull duggery, the Kreeps, a charismatic cat and muddled memories To many Indians, who grew up reading DC comics in the 50s, 60s and 70s, Captain Marvel is a man, and he acquires super-powers upon uttering the magical acronym, SHAZAM: genius of Solomon, strength of Hercules, unbreakable will of Atlas, lightning blasts of Zeus, power of Achilles and speed of Mercury. Named Billy Batson as a human, Captain Marvel’s powers comprised super strength, flight, invulner...
 

07.03.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

11th Bengaluru International Film Festival award winners

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11th Bengaluru International Film Festival award winners Sivaranjiniyum Innum Sila Pengalum, an anthology of Tamil stories, directed by Vasanth Sai, was chosen the Best Film in the Asian category of the 11th BIFFes, held in Bengaluru, during February 21-28. Sivaranjiniyum is based on women-centric short stories by Ashokmitran, Adhavan and Jeymohan. Ghode Ko Jalebi Khilane Le Ja Riya Hoon (Hindi), produced and directed by Anamika Haksar, bagged two awards--FIPRESCI- International Critic...
 

04.03.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Ghode Ko Jalebi Khilane Le Ja Riya Hoon, Review: Escapist dreamscapes

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Ghode Ko Jalebi Khilane Le Ja Riya Hoon, Review: Escapist dreamscapes When translated, the title becomes Taking the Horse to Eat Jalebis, jalebi being an Indian sweet preparation. This is one of the longest film titles in recent times, in the tradition of yesteryear movies like Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) and Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feelin' So Sad (1967). Ghode Ko Jalebi Khilane Le Ja Riya Hoon (GKJK...
 

04.03.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Aakhri Shama completes 50 years; film actor Kanwaljit Singh plays Ghalib

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Aakhri Shama completes 50 years; film actor Kanwaljit Singh plays Ghalib Nostalgia that tugged at the very core of your heart surfaced on 16 February 2019 at the Rang Sharda auditorium, where I witnessed a show of the play Aakhri Shama (Last Candle), staged by the Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA)’s Mumbai unit. With this show, the play completed a mind-boggling 50 years, having been first staged at the Red Fort, Delhi’s Deevaan-e-Aam (public hall), in 1969. That wa...
 

17.02.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

The Wife, Review: The Bitter Half

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The Wife, Review: The Bitter Half It is easy to get swayed emotionally and empathise with the apparent underdog in this simple tale of a complex relationship. Only when you distance yourself, get down to analysing the issues and assessing the narrative, do you realise that the film did not have too much to say, and that the vulnerabilities of the characters cover a convenient screenplay. Performances, undeniably, are above par, and the film may also be seen for its intensity, focus and ably m...
 

14.02.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

15 February extended date for Chalachitram filmfest

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15 February extended date for Chalachitram filmfest Entries to the Guwahati Film Festival and Heritage Short film Competition will now be accepted till February15. Earlier, the last date was February 10. According to the Festival Director, Utpal Datta, the festival now has a common name, the Chalachitram National Film Festival for Short, Documentary and Animation films. The festival will be held on March 1, 2 and 3, at Guwahati, Assam, North-East India. The following prizes are on offer: *I...
 

11.02.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Cold Pursuit, Review: Too much cold, too many pursuits

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Cold Pursuit, Review: Too much cold, too many pursuits Stylised rendition and slick editing almost save this drug cartels and trail of corpses tale, but only almost. By the time you have attended the countless funerals and shoveled tons of snow, you come out of the cinema as cold as the weather. As the numbness wears out, you realise you have watched just another revenge drama, albeit with a refreshing new take. Nels Coxman's quiet life as a snow-plow driver (clearing roads after snowfal...
 

07.02.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Diorama, New Delhi, January 2019: Films screened and their ratings

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Diorama, New Delhi, January 2019: Films screened and their ratings In cold New Delhi, the iconic Siri Fort was the venue for the first ever Diorama International Film Festival. What was once a single screen venue has burgeoned into a four screen complex, with the largest of them, Auditorium 1, able to accommodate approximately 2,000 persons.  Audi 1 was sparingly used, and rightly so, because audiences were thin, to say the least. Of the other three, Auditorium 4 was largely used as the ...
 

05.02.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

RIFF films, seen and unseen

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RIFF films, seen and unseen Arriving at Jaipur on the 20th afternoon, I plunged into the 5th Rajasthan International Film Festival (RIFF) fare at the INOX multiplex, Crystal Palm, minutes after checking in at my hotel. Unfortunately, I had missed a whole day and a half, since the festival began on the 19th and screenings commenced in the morning itself, after the inauguration ceremony. These were the films shown on the first day, and some of them bagged awards too, as you must have read in m...
 

31.01.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Sarvam Thalam Mayam (Omnipresence of Rhythm) is inconsistent but watchable

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Sarvam Thalam Mayam (Omnipresence of Rhythm) is inconsistent but watchable Music is the theme of this Tamil film, which is being released with English sub-titles. Once you have chosen music as your subject, endless possibilities exist: Indian, Western, classical, Carnatic, Hindustani, instrumental, pop, rhythm-percussion, strings, wood, brass, and more. Writer -director Rajiv Menon zeroes in on the Guru-Shishya parampara (teacher-student tradition) as the core, and then weaves a story around ...
 

30.01.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

The Perfect Murder: Howdoit, not whodunit

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The Perfect Murder: Howdoit, not whodunit Promising short film-maker Vikkramm Chandirramani’s Perfect Murder has no murder and, as it turns out, the planned murder-to-be is far from ‘perfect’. An urban crime drama, the short film of 18 minutes duration is too short to fully develop its plot, which has an interesting premise. Kabir, a cheating husband and a wannabe film-star, cannot wait for his billionaire wife Neha to die of a weak and fast-aging heart, because he wants to...
 

28.01.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Award Winners at 5th Aurangabad International Film Festival (AIFF), January 09-13, 2019

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Award Winners at 5th Aurangabad International Film Festival (AIFF), January 09-13, 2019 A city that is home to numerous historical monuments, Aurangabad, in Maharashtra, was the venue for a film festival that attracted housefull audiences to all the shows. My friend Ashok Rane, who is a film society veteran, journalist and festival regular, has been serving as its Director since last year. He invited me to serve on the feature film Jury, along with Chairperson N. Chandra (director-producer-wr...
 

27.01.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

RIFF 2019, Jaipur, January 19-23, Winners list, Part II

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RIFF 2019, Jaipur, January 19-23, Winners list, Part II Here is the second and final list of films and film personalities who were awarded at the Rajasthan International Film Festival (RIFF), Jaipur, 2019, which concluded last week: INTERNATIONAL FILMS (DOCUMENTARY) Lucia Barata, Director, The Brazilian *Best International Documentary Film: THE BRAZILIAN (BRAZIL) *Special Jury Award for Best International Documentary Film: FAMILY TYPEWRITER (ISRAEL) *Best International Documentary Fi...
 

27.01.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

RIFF 2019, Jaipur, January 19-23, Winners list, Part I

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RIFF 2019, Jaipur, January 19-23, Winners list, Part I Here is the first part of the list of award winners announced at the closing ceremony of the Rajasthan International Film Festival (RIFF), on 23 January 2019, at the INOX Insignia, GT, Jaipur: *Lifetime achievement award in Hindi Cinema: KAMAL KUMAR BARJATYA, RAJSHRI PRODUCTIONS *Theme Award: RAJIT KAPUR for THE MAKING OF THE MAHATMA (THE MAHATMA ON CELLULOID) *PRIDE OF RAJASTHAN: ASHISH SHARMA Honorary Awards for Excellence &n...
 

26.01.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Award winners at Diorama International Film Festival, New Delhi, 14-20 January 2019

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Award winners at Diorama International Film Festival, New Delhi, 14-20 January 2019 Main award-winners of Diorama International Film Festival (DIIF) were listed in the earlier post. The remaining winners are named below: Silver Sparrow for Best Short Film--'AS THE FIRST TIME WE MET', Director: Emanuela Mascherini (Italy) Golden Sparrow for Best Short Film--'STORYTELLER/HIKAYECI', Director: Anıl Güldoğan (Turkey) Silver Sparrow for the Best Documentary Film--‘...
 

26.01.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Diorama screens 104 films; DIFF Film Bazaar conducts $3 million business

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Diorama screens 104 films; DIFF Film Bazaar conducts $3 million business The first Diorama International Film Festival (DIFF) concluded on the 20th of January, 2019, with a glittering function held at Siri Fort Auditorium No. 1. A total of 104 films were screened and 49 dignitaries attended. Iconic Iranian director Daruish Mehrjui and veteran Indian film producer-director Subhash Ghai won the lifetime achievement awards. The Golden Sparrow award for best Indian actor, male, went to Ayushma...
 

26.01.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Red carpet personalities attending the Diorama International Film Festival, New Delhi, 2019

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Red carpet personalities attending the Diorama International Film Festival, New Delhi, 2019 15 January 2019: Sudhir Mishra, Neetu Chandra, David Dhawan, Boney Kapoor, Chitrangada Singh, Anubhav Sinha, Rumi Jaffrey, Ambassador Of Spain, Rafael Kapelinski 16 January 2019: Dariush Mehrjui, Giogio Franchini, Alka Yagnik, Philip Cheah, Rituparna Sengupta, Rumi Jaffrey, Mozhgan Taraneh, Actor, Iran, Rafael Kapelinski, Sanjay P Chahuhan, Rahul Mitra, Shaad Ali, Ajit Andhare, Utpal Acharya, A...
 

14.01.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

France, Tunisia, China, Iran, Israel, Syria to be focus countries at RIFF 2019

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France, Tunisia, China, Iran, Israel, Syria to be focus countries at RIFF 2019 The third and final list of films to be screened at the 5th Rajasthan International Film Festival was released yesterday by Somendra Harsh, the Founder of the festival. Overall, the festival will showcase 25 awarded films, from 10 different countries. Films like the Tunisian feature Benzine, directed by Sarah Abidi , the Zyang Yang directed Chinese feature, Paths of the Soul, Cheang Pu-soi directed Chinese feature...
 

14.01.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

The Mensile and Biennale International Film Festival of Bengal

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The Mensile and Biennale International Film Festival of Bengal International Film Festival of Bengal, also known as Bengal Mensile (meaning monthly) has just been launched. The film festival aims to create a platform for independent Cinema in Bengal, to be showcased along with global cinema. Beside this, Bengal Mensile also provides a Film Market for buyers, distributors, exhibitors, etc. IFFB has just begun, as an online monthly event, and the annual event will be a physical one, to be held...
 

08.01.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Manthan and the churning of good cinema: Master Class with Shyam Benegal

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Manthan and the churning of good cinema: Master Class with Shyam Benegal Standing upright at 82, the one-time swimming champion and one of the foremost directors of Indian cinema, Shyam Benegal, reminisced about the making of his milestone project Manthan (The Churning/1976), in particular, and about films and film-making in general. The occasion was a Master Class, organised on the platform of White Wall Screenings, at the Habitat, Hotel Uni-Continental, Khar, Mumbai.   Founded by...
 

08.01.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

RIFF: Second list of films released

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Rajasthan International Film Festival : Second list of films released; check our previous release Somendra Harsh, Director and Founder of the Rajasthan International Film Festival (RIFF), today released the second list of films to be screened at the event, which takes place in the state capital, Jaipur, during January 19-23. The films include: TV Actor Ashish Sharma (of Rajasthan) starrer Khejdi, by Rachita Films, about a transgender person, Directed by Rohit Dwivedi ...
 

08.01.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Tashi, made with a 5-member cast and a 5-member crew, for $25,000, proves auspicious

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Tashi, made with a 5-member cast and a 5-member crew, for $25,000, proves auspicious Tashi means 'auspiciousness' or 'good fortune' in the Tibetan language, and the first time I heard this word was when I was introduced to an actress from the north-east of India, with this name. This time, I find it to be the name of a film, made by a Keralite Indian woman, living in Singapore. The film has been shown at 14 festivals and has won 11 awards, so far. That sure is auspicious, by a...
 

06.01.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

RIFF selections

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RIFF selections Here are some of the films selected for the Rajasthan International Film Festival, Jaipur, January 19-23: Short Film "#AkhbaarWala (The #Newspaper #Vendor)" India, | Hindi | 14 min, Directors: #AnandSinghChouhan & #Sayed Sharafat Ali, Produced by #DS Chauhan. Hindi Short Film "#BLURRED" India l Hindi | 16 min Director: #Raghav Sharma & #Madhav Bairathi, Produced by #Devansh Ahuja. Short Film "#Adhura Antariksha" India...
 

06.01.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Diorama encouraged by Rahul Rawail, Shaji Karun

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Diorama encouraged by Rahul Rawail, Shaji Karun The first Diorama International Film Festival (DIFF) will be held from the 14th to the 20th of January, 2019, at the Siri Fort Auditoria, New Delhi. Here’s how and why the organisers came up with this uncommon name: The word "diorama" originated in 1823 as a type of picture-viewing device, from the French, in 1822. The word literally means "through that which is seen", from the Greek di- "through" + orama &q...
 

05.01.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

15 years after its last IFFI, Delhi gets its Diorama

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15 years after its last IFFI, Delhi gets its Diorama After hosting the 34th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in October 2003, Delhi lost its place to Panaji, Goa, which is the venue for IFFIs since then, beginning with the 35th, in November-December 2004. One man who was associated with several editions of IFFI Goa, first as Deputy Director in the Directorate of Film Festivals (DFF), Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, and later as the CEO of the Entertainment Society of Goa ...
 

04.01.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

5th Rajasthan International Film Festival’s poster unveiled

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5th Rajasthan International Film Festival’s poster unveiled Rajasthan’s Tourism Minister, Mr. Vishvendra Singh, launched the poster of the 5th Rajasthan International Film Festival (RIFF) today at the Ministry’s Secretariat. The festival will take place from the19th to the 23rd of January. On this occasion, Somendra Harsh, founder of the festival, Anshu Harsh, Director of the Festival, and member of the Advisor Committee and Chairman of the Forti Women’s Wing, Ranoo N...
 

04.01.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Half Songs, Review: Melodies of nostalgia, dew-drops of sublime love

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Half Songs, Review: Melodies of nostalgia, dew-drops of sublime love A simple tale, with few characters, executed with wholesome grace, Half Songs strikes a chord with its theme of incomplete, or ‘half’, human relations and endeavours, in the backdrop of modern urban life, juxtaposed with an era just gone by. A fresh, new team brings a dew-drop quality to the images and performances. No real hero or heroine, no comedian, no villain, no real character actor, no item numbers, but ye...
 

01.01.2019 | Siraj Syed's blog

Cinestaan’s second storytellers script contest accepting entries till 22 January 2019

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Cinestaan’s second storytellers script contest accepting entries till 22 January 2019 Rs. 25,00,000 prize to the winner and another Rs. 2,50,000 to be shared among four Runners Up—a total of Rs. 50,00,000 (US$714,000, approx..) are on offer in Cinestaan’s second storytellers script contest. The application fee is a mere Rs. 1,500. In addition to the prize money for the winners, there is an initiative of Cinestaan Digital Pvt. Ltd. (CDPL): once you are part of the Cinestaan ...
 

29.12.2018 | Siraj Syed's blog

Simmba, Review: Slo mo shun

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Simmba, Review: Slo mo shun It would be unrealistic to expect anything but action comedies from director Rohit Shetty, showcasing bad guys turning good guys along the line, with tons of slow motion action, having the protagonist landing blow after blow, and the goons rotating before landing on the floor or table or chair or cupboard or door or window or car or cycle or motor-cycle or truck or hand cart or whatever. This time around, the theme, ostensibly, is the heinous crime of rape, with t...
 

28.12.2018 | Siraj Syed's blog

RIFF 2019 releases first list of films to be screened

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RIFF 2019 releases first list of films to be screened Founder of Rajasthan International Film Festival (RIFF), (Jaipur, January 19-23), Somendra Harsh, said today that in this five-day event, film screenings, seminars, workshops, knowledge series and a film market will be organised. The festival will screen feature films, short films, documentary films and animation films. On the last day of the festival, RIFF Award Night 2019 will be held on, in which the best film artistes will be honored. ...
 

28.12.2018 | Siraj Syed's blog

Rajasthan International Film Festival coming up

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Rajasthan International Film Festival coming up Rajasthan International Film Festival (RIFF), named after the north-western state of India where it is held, endeavours to impart a novel identity to world cinema, through conducting film festivals in the state-capital city of Jaipur every year. It is now in its fifth year. RIFF will continue to work in areas concerning technical and academic aspects of cinema. Film-buffs can earmark January 19-23, 2019, in their new year diaries, to be there, a...
 

26.12.2018 | Siraj Syed's blog

Indo-BanglaDesh co-production Meenalap wins Best Short Film Award at the 17th TEAFF

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Indo-BanglaDesh co-production Meenalap wins Best Short Film Award at the 17th TEAFF There was only one competitive section at the 17th Third Eye Asian Film Festival (TEAFF), held during December 14-20, in Mumbai: The short film section. 24 films competed. They ranged in duration from 4 mins. to 30 mins. A jury comprising Premendra Mazumder (film society veteran, journalist and FIPRESCI* member), Menasha Shedde (journalist, curator and FIPRESCI member) and Rekha Deshpande (journalist, author ...
 

24.12.2018 | Siraj Syed's blog

17th Third Eye Asian Film Festival screened 32 features, 24 shorts

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17th Third Eye Asian Film Festival screened 32 features, 24 shorts Mumbai’s 17th Third Eye Asian Film Festival (TEAFF), held during December 14-20 at the Citylight Cinema in Central-North Mumbai, was a single venue venture, having five shows a day, at 10.30 a.m., 12 noon, 2.45 p.m., 4.45 p.m. and 7.30 p.m. At five shows a day, 32 features were accommodated, while three show slots were allotted to short films, on the second, third and fourth day respectively. During the 2 p.m.-2.45 p.m....
 

22.12.2018 | Siraj Syed's blog

Third Eye Asian Film Festival moves to new, bigger, better venue

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Third Eye Asian Film Festival moves to new, bigger, better venue In its 17th edition, the Third Eye Asian Film Festival (TEAFF) chose to move to Citylight, a single screen cinema located in Matunga/Mahim West, Central Mumbai. Before the multiplex era, Citylight used to be a regular, medium-capacity theatre, which was demolished to make way for an office complex, some years ago. However, the owners retained space on the upper levels to include a cinema, with a capacity of 250 seats. It is not...
 

22.12.2018 | Siraj Syed's blog

Ben is Back, Review: Super Mom’s benediction v/s Son’s drug addiction

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Ben is Back, Review: Super Mom’s benediction v/s Son’s drug addiction Ben, the titular character, is a nineteen year-old boy who’s come back home for a Christmas visit from his rehabilitation centre. A hardcore drug addict, he has been clean for long enough to earn his holiday. Yet, his visit is going to hurtle his family into a crisis they could never have imagined. Ben is Back is not the routine drug-mafia/gang-war film. Instead, it is a thoroughly watchable hearts and min...
 

13.12.2018 | Siraj Syed's blog

The Possession of Hannah Grace: Show me demoney

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The Possession of Hannah Grace: Show me demoney A scary movie that does not scare can do little else. As the title suggests, the film is about the possession of a woman called Hannah Grace, though there is no reason or logic given behind the possession. In an 85-minute film, you can count the frightening scenes on the fingers of one palm. Originally titled Cadaver, the supernatural film was made under $10 million, and in spite of low merits, it might even end-up making some money. A woman ca...
 

08.12.2018 | Siraj Syed's blog

Mortal Engines, Review: Municipal Darwinism in a dystopian future

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Mortal Engines, Review: Municipal Darwinism in a dystopian future Charles Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest is taken to its logical conclusion in the future, where mini cities stand on mobile machines that serve as crushers and gobblers of smaller ones, appropriating their resources and enslaving the captured populace. The process is called Municipal Darwinism, and no one is safe. Slick and deeply disturbing, Mortal Engines is thought-provoking viewing and full of metaphors. T...
 

07.12.2018 | Siraj Syed's blog

Spiderman, Into the Spider-verse: Spiderman is dead; long live Spidermen

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Spiderman, Into the Spider-verse: Spiderman is dead; long live Spidermen “I love you” yells PDNY cop Jefferson Davis, to his son Miles, as he drops him off to school. After a few seconds, he insists that Miles yell back, “You gotta say I love you back.” Miles, the would-be new Spiderman, finds this awkward, and asks, “Are you serious?” and when his Dad says “I want to hear it”, he yells back, “I love you, Dad.” On his police-car PA s...
 

06.12.2018 | Siraj Syed's blog

IFFI 2018, VIII: Ratings

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IFFI 2018, VIII: Ratings At the 49th IFFI, Goa, November 20-28, 2018, I caught 29 films: 28 features and one short. Not bad, considering one can watch up to 40 films in theory. If some press conferences, one Master Class and some dinners have to be squeezed in, not to mention the Open Forum that I moderated and the lunch that followed, 29 is not a low figure at all. Sadly, I had to walk out of as many as eight of them, after giving each one of them 20-30 minutes to warm-up. My highest rating...
 

03.12.2018 | Siraj Syed's blog

IFFI 2018, VII: What it was and what it could have been

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IFFI 2018, VII: What it was and what it could have been In its 49th edition, the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) was a damp squib. It could have been a glorious run-up to the 50th edition celebrations next year; instead, we had many disgruntled delegates and media-persons and serious mismanagement. In fact, many regulars decided to give the fest a miss this year, making me wonder whether they had a premonition that it would be so dull. Here are 25 observations that need to be loo...
 

02.12.2018 | Siraj Syed's blog

IFFI 2018, VI: Meet Canadian cinematographer Pierre Gill

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IFFI 2018, VI: Meet Canadian cinematographer Pierre Gill “I hope I get to work in India soon as I am amazed by some technically complex movies from India,” said Cinematographer Pierre Gill at a press conference held on 26 November 2018 as part of the 49th International Film Festival of India (IFFI). Gill continued, “My passion for cinema comes mostly from storytelling. Storytelling makes me dream. A good story or good script brings out the creativity in me. It’s a pr...
 

02.12.2018 | Siraj Syed's blog

IFFI 2018, V: Promoting Jharkhand as a film-making destination

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IFFI 2018, V: Promoting Jharkhand as a film-making destination The 24th of November was a day dedicated to Jharkhand at the 49th International Film Festival of India (IFFI). The scenic state, bestowed with rugged hills, dense forests and mesmerising waterfalls, got a much-needed impetus as a film shooting destination when dignitaries came together to celebrate ‘Jharkhand Day’ at IFFI. Governor of Goa, Ms. Mridula Sinha; Shri Amar Kumar Bauri, Tourism Minister, Government of Jhark...
 

02.12.2018 | Siraj Syed's blog

IFFI 2018, IV: To the Desert

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IFFI 2018, IV: To the Desert The inspiration for ‘To the Desert’ came from a true news story I had read, about kidnapping in Patagonia. The film uses real-life settings of abandoned houses, employing thereby a documentary approach to film-making. It was an opportunity for me to get involved in the exotic landscape of Patagonia. - Ulises Rosell, Director The shooting for the movie was quite difficult as the weather conditions were hard; I always wanted to show Patagonia on the ci...
 

02.12.2018 | Siraj Syed's blog

IFFI 2018, III: India’s Film Facilitation Office portal launched

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IFFI 2018, III: India’s Film Facilitation Office portal launched India, a land of stories and a melting pot of emotions, narrates itself through breathtaking landscapes. It expresses itself via age-old, man-made splendours, like the Taj Mahal, the mythological narratives at the Ghats of River Ganges, and the cultural clans of the Seven Sister states in the North-East of India. A Film Facilitation Office (FFO), set up by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, has been working t...
 

02.12.2018 | Siraj Syed's blog

IFFI 2018, II: The Aspern Papers was the Opening Film

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IFFI 2018, II: The Aspern Papers was the Opening Film The Aspern Papers was the opening film of IFFI 2018, the 49th International Film Festival of India, Panaji, Goa, November 20-28, also marking its world première. Team Aspern got to address the first press conference of the festival, held at the Media Centre at the ground floor of the old Goa Medical College (GMC) building. “It is a real honour for me to be in India, to present my film at this prestigious festival” said ...
 

01.12.2018 | Siraj Syed's blog

IFFI 2018, I: The Winners

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IFFI 2018, I: The Winners At the 49th International Film festival of India (IFFI), 2018, which concluded in Panaji, Goa, on the 28th of November, the following films and film personalities got the honours: *Golden Peacock for Best Film: Donbass, Ukraine *Silver Peacock for Best Director: Lijo Jose Pellisery, for Ee.Ma.Yau, India (Malayalam language) *Special Jury Award: Director Milko Lazarov, for Aga (Germany) *Silver Peacock for Best Actor (Male): Chemban Vinod, for Ee.Ma.Yau *Silver P...
 

01.12.2018 | Siraj Syed's blog

Mohalla Assi, Review: Holy river, unholy Babas

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Mohalla Assi, Review: Holy river, unholy Babas He’ll get there, eventually. Beginning with the TV serial Chanakya (321 BC-283 BC), about the life and times of the master strategist in the Maurya dynasty period (322 BC-185 BC), Dr. Chandraprakash Dwivedi gave us a good follow-up in the form of the feature film Pinjar, set in India’s partition, circa 1947.  After three more period dramas, largely unseen, he now lands up in more recent history, with the 2004 story published in 2...
 

15.11.2018 | Siraj Syed's blog

Boy Erased, Review: Let the gay have their way

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Boy Erased, Review: Let the gay have their way Homosexuality is not a state of mind, a disease or a matter of choice. While we are getting increasingly aware of these facts in many parts of the world, there are at least 35 states in the USA where gay conversion centres try to rid the inmates of this ‘abnormality’ through therapy and methods that are both conventional and unconventional. The memoirs of one boy who was sent to such a home form the basis of Boy Erased, directed by ac...
 

15.11.2018 | Siraj Syed's blog

Bergman showcase at IFFI 2018

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Bergman showcase at IFFI 2018 2018 marks the centenary of Ingmar Bergman's birth. On this occasion, when the centenary celebrations are in full swing across the globe, IFFI 2018 will be showcasing 7 of the best films from his substantial filmography. These films are Summer With Monika, Wild Strawberries, The Seventh Seal, Persona, Autumn Sonata, Fanny and Alexander, and Saraband. In addition to these seven films, a documentary on Bergman titled Bergman Island, directed by Marie Nyrerod,...
 

12.11.2018 | Siraj Syed's blog

Anna Ferraioli Ravel to be part of International Jury

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Anna Ferraioli Ravel to be part of International Jury at the 49th International Film Festival of India (IFFI), to be held in Panaji, Goa, during November 21-28. State focus - Jharkhand Jharkhand is a small state carved out of Bihar. Movies in the Jharkhand Package include Death in the Gunj, Ranchi Diaries and Begum Jaan. Jharkhand Day will be celebrated on 24th November, 2018 as part of the festival. The International Competition jury The International Competition jury comprises John Irv...
 

12.11.2018 | Siraj Syed's blog

Aspern Papers’s world premiere to open 49th IFFI

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Aspern Papers’s world premiere to open 49th IFFI The 49th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) will be held in Goa from 20th to 28th November and will showcase 212 films from over 68 countries. ~The festival will open with the World Premiere of The Aspern Papers. The director Julien Landais and , including Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Golden Globe winner), Joely Richardson (Oscar-nominated actress), Morgane Polanski (actress and daughter of Roman Polanski) will be present at the screen...
 

12.11.2018 | Siraj Syed's blog

Thugs of Hindostan, Review: Where are the thugs?

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Thugs of Hindostan, Review: Where are the thugs? In the Hindostan of the early 1800s, as in most countries at any time in history, there were thugs. India, as Hindostan came to be called by the British, had an exactly similar term for these gentlemen, only the t in thug was hardened to sound like tug. Our story begins in 1795, when one small kingdom dared to withstand the marauding East India Company forces, led by John Clive. There is one solitary thug in the film, who has an ambivalent att...
 

08.11.2018 | Siraj Syed's blog

The Grinch, Review: You can’t steal Christmas

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The Grinch, Review: You can’t steal Christmas An entire film built around Christmas cannot but be happy and heart-tugging, which is what Grinch is. And since it is animated, anything and everything outrageous and impossible can be incorporated, with technical finesse. Obviously, the film will have special appeal to those who believe in Saint Nicholas, aka as Santa Claus. But others too will be won over by the charm and innocence, seasoned with guile and villainy. The Grinch, who lives ...
 

08.11.2018 | Siraj Syed's blog

Jack & Dil, Review: Love my dog? Shadow my wife!

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Jack & Dil, Review: Love my dog? Shadow my wife! Set in picturesque Goa, the film seems to an advert for Goa tourism, a certain brand of tea and a particular brand of kettle. A bunch of actors were most likely contracted for a period and taken to the Western Indian beach paradise state, where a cat and mouse game was played out under the garb of making a movie. Reasonably talented actors appear novices as the plot, of a suspicious husband hiring a novice to spy on his wife, unravels at a ...
 

02.11.2018 | Siraj Syed's blog

Ekkees Taarekh Shubh Muhurat, Review: Marry-go-round

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Ekkees Taarekh Shubh Muhurat, Review: Marry-go-round Set in the Hindu holy town of Mathura, with only old faithful Sanjay Mishra in the non-star cast, Ekkees Taarekh Shubh Muhurat (21st, an auspicious date) is the sleeper that wakes you up, the mouse that roared. Slice-of-life characters, with only the occasional over the top comedy, keep the film anchored to the ground and the audience entrenched their cushioned seats. Girdhari Lal Sharma (Sanjay Mishra) is a priest-turned-mythology-storyte...
 

02.11.2018 | Siraj Syed's blog

Lupt, Review: Vengeance, the soul purpose

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Lupt, Review: Vengeance, the soul purpose A wafer thin story-line might have made it easier for the makers to deliver a supernatural ‘horror’ film, but there is little to take home from Lupt, except some good performances, led by an unlikely Javed Jaaferi, who, against the trend, has been cast as a ruthless business tycoon. The film is a revenge tale, like 99% of all horror films, but chooses to delve into the realm of souls rather than ghosts. But aren’t most ghosts disgrun...
 

02.11.2018 | Siraj Syed's blog

Kaagaz ki kashti, Review: Surfing oceans of melody

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Kaagaz ki kashti, Review: Surfing oceans of melody It’s a tough call. What do you call a biopic on the life and times of singer-composer, late Jagjit Singh? Producer-director Brahmanand S. Siingh settles for Kaagaz ki kashti (Paperboat), deriving the title from one of Jagjit’s most popular numbers, a nazm (an Urdu poetry form), and adding a sub-heading, Jagjit Singh Come Alive. Though he sang all kinds of songs in a career spanning five decades, nazm was not what he was known for....
 

31.10.2018 | Siraj Syed's blog

Badhaai Ho, Review: No age to have a baby

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Badhaai Ho, Review: No age to have a baby What if you discover that your mother is pregnant when you are 25 and in a steady relationship? Should you be happy? Sad? Feel outraged? Would you become the butt of jokes day in and day out? How would you deal with the development? Such is the off-beat premise of Badhaai Ho (Congratulations). [This review has been delayed for so many days due to serious issues with my computer, but the film, which was seen 10 days ago, deserves to be reviewed, and we...
 

27.10.2018 | Siraj Syed's blog

Kashi—In Search of Ganga, Review: Searchomania and Schizophrenia

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Kashi—In Search of Ganga, Review: Searchomania and Schizophrenia Suspense thriller it could be. It is not. Search for a sibling it could be. It is not. A film that takes the audience for a royal ride, it is. A classic case of the script and the direction tying up the story in knots, and then, not knowing how to unravel the Gordian knotty, only getting naughty and clever by half. Lucknow-based journalist Devina meets Kaashi in Kaashi (another name for Varanasi or Banaras) and takes an ...
 

26.10.2018 | Siraj Syed's blog

Gaon--The Village No More, Review: Here yesterday, Gaon today

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Gaon--The Village No More, Review: Here yesterday, Gaon today Imagine a village cut-off from the country and the world. Totally, completely, fully, comprehensively cut off. Imagine community farming, imagine a community kitchen. Also imagine guru-shishya parampara (teacher-disciple oral tradition) education, without any tools. And imagine herbal medicine as the only method of disease treatment. Can you imagine this scenario in 2017? No, you can’t. Writer-director Gautam Singh Sigdar can...
 

26.10.2018 | Siraj Syed's blog

Baazaar, Review: Insighter trading

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Baazaar, Review: Insighter trading Allahabad (now renamed Prayagraj) boy Rizwan Ahmed idolises stock market wolf Shakun Kothari and aims to become a billionaire tycoon like his hero. Baazaar then moves on to detail how unscrupulous and manipulative, even corrupt, Kothari is, and how all this impacts the small-town boy who has a sister to marry, and to live up to the expectations of an honest father who has just retired. Get ready for an insight into the world of stocks and shares, insider tra...
 

26.10.2018 | Siraj Syed's blog

Hunter Killer, Review: Gerard Butler throws no punches, but there’s plenty of action

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Hunter Killer, Review: Gerard Butler throws no punches, but there’s plenty of action Most films about ships and submarines have too much jargon for the viewers to swallow and assimilate, while staying focused on the plot. Though Hunter Killer falls prey to such trappings, it is to its credit that there are some interesting twists in the plot, though they aren’t entirely new to the genre. Sadly, three or four plot points cannot make the narrative sustain the two hours plus length t...
 

26.10.2018 | Siraj Syed's blog

Halloween, Review: Too much slashing, but all pointless

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Halloween, Review: Too much slashing, but all pointless Murder can be mysterious and motivated, and the genre is called murder mystery. That is the Agatha Christie kind. Give the audiences a good murder mystery, filled with suspense, anytime. Murders that are gratis, committed serially, without motive, perpetrated by a psychopath killer, have been dealt with in films like Psychopath, The Boston Strangler, No Way to Treat a Lady and the Indian biopic on Raman Raghav, the head-smashing stone-ma...

 

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