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Siraj Syed


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. 

 

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Nanu ki Jaanu, Review: It’s a nu nu

Nanu ki Jaanu, Review: It’s a nu nu What can you make of this mishmash that is as puerile as its title? Whatever you make, it’s all a nu nu, or no no, to spell it right. Misguided, miswritten, misdirected and misacted, the film revels in flouting the basic tenets of mise en scène. If the Tamil/Telugu original of this remake was worth remaking, the makers of Nanu Ki Jaanu have done it great injustice, beginning with changing the profession of the protagonist from a violinist...

Truth or Dare, Review: How Dare you deny the Truth!

Truth or Dare, Review: How Dare you deny the Truth! When you begin with a premise that you horror film need not give rational, or at least credible, explanations, you are free to employ any suitable elements that scare and shock the audience. Truth or Dare uses come of these props effectively, but the sheer predictability of the sequence of deaths makes it less worthwhile. Yes, the lead-ups to the grotesque ‘murders’ are imaginatively devised, not so the preceding contortions and...

R. Lee Ermey: Off to the last frontier

R. Lee Ermey: Off to the last frontier Ronald Lee Ermey, Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, in Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket, passed away on 15 April aged 74. Listed as R. Lee Emery in his film and TV appearances, his pet name was Gunny. Gunny’s roar, "What is your major malfunction, numbnut?"remains an iconic line, 30 years later. The performance made him a Globe Best Supporting Actor nominee, and Boston Society of Film Critics Award Winner, for Best Supporting Actor. B...

Milos Forman: Milostones

Milos Forman: Milostones News has just come in that Milos Forman has passed away at 86. He leaves behind a legacy of superlative work, in a career that spanned more than six decades. Born on 18 Feb 1932 at Cáslav, Czechoslovakia, Milos was the son of a Jewish Professor of Education and a Protestant mother. World War II saw both of them working for a resistance group. Caught, they were sent to Nazi concentration camps, from where they never returned. Milos was orphaned at eight, and wa...

Farooque Sheikh: Memories and Musings on his 70th birth anniversary-II

@ Farooque Sheikh: Memories and Musings on his 70th birth anniversary-II Ramesh Talwar on Farooque Shaikh Director Ramesh Talwar, who directed films (Doosara Aadmi, Sahiban, +5) and plays (Apan To Bhai Aise Hain, Darinde and many, many more), directed Farooque when he was still a student at Xavier’s. Talwar had studied at Khalsa College but had already earned a reputation as a man of great merit. Farooque invited him to direct Dekh Kabira Roya (about one boy and three girls) and Mirza S...

October, Review: Shoojit and the Shirker

October, Review: Shoojit and the Shirker Names have great significance in director Shoojit Sircar’s October. The month symbolises the blooming and autumn fall season of the night jasmine/coral jasmine flower, known in Bengali as Shiuli. Shiuli is also the name of his heroine, though she is Tamilian, Shiuli Iyer, but because Shiuli was so fond of the flower, they name her after it. Her mother is a lecturer and is called Vidya, meaning education. His protagonist is called Dan until three ...

Exclusive interview with Aneek Chaudhuri, director of off-beat films Streer Potro and White

Exclusive interview with Aneek Chaudhuri, director of off-beat films Streer Potro and White *Tell us about the themes/central ideas of your two feature films, The Wife’s Letter (Streer Potro, in Bengali) and White (no dialogue). Aneek: The Wife's letter is based on an abstract theme where mathematics has been related to emotions, inspired by the surrealist form of Dali and simplistic form of Tagore. White is based on sexual assaults on women and has a universal relevance. *You hav...

Mercury, Review: The evil that corporates do kills after them*

Mercury, Review: The evil that corporates do kills after them* No, not the planet, but the element. Like lead, mercury poisoning can cause permanent damage to the human body. The movie, Mercury, begins when the damage is long done and the factory that caused it is shut and abandoned. However, the after-effects are about to wreak havoc on five deaf-mute friends, and one blind man will extort vengeance of the most brutal kind. Made without dialogue, Mercury has a soundtrack that ranges from cac...

Curtain falls on NSD’s historic Theatre Olympics after 16-day Mumbai marathon

Prof. Waman Kendre and Nawazuddin Siddiqui Curtain falls on NSD’s historic Theatre Olympics after 16-day Mumbai marathon Staggered across 17 cities, National School of Drama’s 8th Theatre Olympics came to an end after 16 continuous days of performances, seminars, master classes, interactions and street theatre shows. A glittering closing ceremony was held at the Kamgar Maidan, Elphinstone Road, Central Mumbai, not very far from the venues of the Olympics themselves. Among the lu...

A recap of the plays and theatrical performances at NSD’s 16 day Theatre Olympics, II

The Brink! A recap of the plays and theatrical performances at NSD’s 16 day Theatre Olympics, II DAY 14 COURT MARTIAL ​ ​ (Hindi)​ ​ Show:  Friday 6th April  - 4:30 PM at Ravindra Natya Mandir, Prabhadevi. Synopsis: Court Martial’s central character is Ram Chander, a jawan in the army. He has been accused of murdering one of his senior officers, Captain Verma, and injuring another, Captain B.D. Kapoor. When the play begins, Ram Chander is already in the court...

A recap of the plays and theatrical performances at NSD’s 16 day Theatre Olympics

Gazab Teri Ada A recap of the plays and theatrical performances at NSD’s 16 day Theatre Olympics DAY 1 MOHE PIYA A tale from the epic Mahabharata. Director: Waman Kendre, Director of the National School of Drama, organisers of the Theatre Olympics Group: Rangpeeth, Mumbai Language: Hindi Duration: 1 hour 30 mins. Rating: ****   DAY 2 MAIN HOON NA (IN TIME AND SPACE) A tale from the Mahabharata, about Lord Krishna. Director: Bharti Sharma Group: Kshitij, Delhi Languag...

Destiny, Review: Your vengeance, my luck

Destiny, Review: Your vengeance, my luck You might think that a film about vengeance would be bloody and gruesome. Destiny, about a jilted girl’s vengeance against her imagined prospective husband, has only a few drops of blood, and they come from the lover’s bleeding forehead, not caused by anything thrown at him but a result of tripping at a pizzeria’s entrance. It is more of a romantic comedy than a revenge story. Destiny is a cute, neat film that has a twist at the end, ...

Drishtti, Review: Reflections in a crystal ball

Drishtti, Review: Reflections in a crystal ball Mugdha Veira Godse, a popular model and Hindi film actor, has turned producer (co-producer, to be accurate) with the short film, Drishtti (stylised from Drishti, meaning vision) which is streaming on Hungama Play from 30 March. It is the story of a crystal ball gazer (Mugdha Godse) who has the gift of analysing personalities and traits, and predicting the future, albeit partially. A journalist called Naina comes to interview her. During the con...

Missing, Review: You aren’t missing anything

Missing, Review: You aren’t missing anything It’s a confessional title and admission of guilt, for there is a lot that is missing in this film, a credible plot to begin with. Crisp editing and some good performances cannot rescue Missing, a psychological thriller that isn’t. Like one character in the film, who takes everybody for a huge ride, the makers have decided to inflict the same punishment on the audience. The fact that persons of the calibre of Neeraj Pandey (directo...

Midnight Sun, Review: XPeriencing XP from Windows

Midnight Sun, Review: XPeriencing XP from Windows It’s not about Norway or the North Pole, where the sun shines at midnight. Rather, it is about a girl who suffers from a disease in which exposure to the sun, even for a few seconds, can prove fatal. Midnight Sun comes from a lineage that is populated by names like Anand, Love Story, Ankhiyon Ke Jharaokhon Se, Kaash and Paa. Then, there were toned down variants like Meri Surat Teri Aankhen, Dosti, Children of a Lesser God, Koshish, Taare...

Peter Rabbit, Review: Fertile comedy

Peter Rabbit, Review: Fertile comedy Peter Rabbit is an irreverent, computer-generated (largely) animated comedy, based on a 125 year-old story that has been updated to present times. Most of the story undulates as a never-ending, recurring chase, and battle of wits, between the live action hero and the cartoon animals, in Tom and Jerry style. While it should appeal naturally to kids in the age-group of 3-12, some adult-ish content makes it more relevant to the 13-18 bracket. Adults, who are ...

A Quiet Place, Review: Silence is Golden

A Quiet Place, Review: Silence is Golden In 2017, the world undergoes lockdown as blind monsters search for victims by sound. The few survivors of an unknown attack in New York appear as the Abbott family, who are visiting a supermarket, while maintaining total silence. The family is mourning the death of Beau, a victim to the monsters a year earlier. Back home, following several prior encounters, the monsters become aware of the family’s presence while Lee Abbott develops a sound-proo...

NSD’s Theatre Olympics continue, with classic French playwright Molière’s Tartuffe

NSD’s Theatre Olympics continue, with classic French playwright Molière’s Tartuffe National School of Drama, New Delhi, an autonomous institution under Ministry of Culture, Government of India, is currently organising the 8th Theatre Olympics all over India. We, in Mumbai, are witnessing plays from India and overseas, staged at two venues, both in central Mumbai. With free entry, the Olympics are a treat for connoisseurs of drama, both traditional and modern. Mumbai is hos...

Baaghi 2, Review: Do we still need an army?

Baaghi 2, Review: Do we still need an army? He’s an army-man and he’s angry, first at the stone-pelters in Kashmir, and then at the drug-peddlers in Goa. In the former case, he has a bee in his bonnet. Rather, he ties a local to the bonnet on his Jeep, using him as a human shield, and drives through, teaching the militants a lesson. This earns a serious reprimand from his superior officers and a strenuous survival punishment as well. In the latter case, he conducts a master class ...

Director Ashutosh Gowariker, actor Vikram Gokhale flag-off 8th Theatre Olympics in Mumbai

Director Ashutosh Gowariker, actor Vikram Gokhale flag-off 8th Theatre Olympics in Mumbai Taking forward its long association with the world of drama, the city inaugurated the 8th Theatre Olympics, a fortnight-long international theatre festival, organised by the National School of Drama (NSD), New Delhi, on 24th March. Eminent film and theatre actor Vikram Gokhale, and reputed film-maker Ashutosh Gowarikar inaugurated the festival, at a function held at the prestigious Nehru Centre, that was...

Farouque Shaikh: Memories and musings on his 70th birth anniversary

Farouque Shaikh: Memories and musings on his 70th birth anniversary My earliest memories of the fresh and confident Farouque date back to the time when he was a senior at the elitist St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai, and I was a junior at the then humble National College, circa 1970-72. Among his contemporaries were Shabana Azmi, Satish Shah (Farouque was rather close to Satish), Pankaj Udhas, Anuradha (Paudwal) and Sharada (Kavita) Krishnamurthy, all celebrities in waiting. The college had...

Hichki, Review: Hitch key

Hichki, Review: Hitch key Protagonist Rani Mukerji plays a spunky woman with Tourette Syndrome*, who sets her mind on teaching as a profession. Rather ambitious, considering she bursts into tics, making funny, bark-like noises every 30 seconds or so. It is inspired by the life of American Brad Cohen, probably the most famous person with Tourette Syndrome. With no real stars, this come-back vehicle of actress Rani Mukerji, who took a break for about four years, post marriage to the Yash Raj Fi...

Baa Baaa Black Sheep, Review: Wolf in sheep’s clothing

Baa Baaa Black Sheep, Review: Wolf in sheep’s clothing Director Vishwas Paandya is not serious. A confessional in the beginning dedicates Baa Baaa Black Sheep to the films he grew up on. He’s also asked his partner in crime (it’s a crime story), writer Sunjiv Puri, to strictly follow his brief. So, when the film was launched, in early 2015, they were probably referencing films of the 1980s-1990s. One character is named Charlie, in a tribute to the legendary comedian, who rul...

The Strangers--Prey at Night, Review: “Why kill strangers?” “Why not?”

The Strangers--Prey at Night, Review: “Why kill strangers?” “Why not?” They last preyed on innocents in 2008. Since then, families must have been praying that they do not return. No such luck. A sequel was taking shape since 2012, and Prey at Night saw light of day in 2018. Writer-director of the original, Bryan Bertino is only a co-writer this time round, the three murderers are the same, and so is the quest for Tamara. The rest is new. Is unmotivated mayhem and psych...

The Past coming to haunt you

The Past coming to haunt you The Past is a terrifying horror story that has been shot in an actually ‘haunted’ location. The film stars Vedita Pratap Singh, Yuvraj Parasher, Rajesh Sharma, Samiksha Bhatt, Jaya Villey and Soniya Albizuri, in pivotal roles. It is directed By Gagan Puri  and produced by Peacock Motion Filmz, an Indian film studio founded by Jaspal Singh and Nitesh Kumar. Gagan Puri has over eight years of experience in Hindi Cinema, and is also the writer of...

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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of FilmFestivals.com and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.


Bandra West, Mumbai

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