Pro Tools
•Register a festival or a film
Submit film to festivals Promote for free or with Promo Packages

FILMFESTIVALS | 24/7 world wide coverage

Welcome !

Enjoy the best of both worlds: Film & Festival News, exploring the best of the film festivals community.  

Launched in 1995, relentlessly connecting films to festivals, documenting and promoting festivals worldwide.

Working on an upgrade soon.

For collaboration, editorial contributions, or publicity, please send us an email here

User login


RSS Feeds 

Martin Scorsese Masterclass in Cannes services and offers


Siraj Syed

Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for 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 is also an acting and dialogue coach. 



Chatrapathi, Review: Axe Rated

Chatrapathi, Review: Axe Rated

Should have been spelt Chhatrapati, buy never mind. As a remake, it has carried over the spelling of the Telugu original. The title is a reference to Shivaji, the Maratha King of the Bhosle clan, who fought invaders and rulers and lived from 1630 to 1680. Honoured as a local hero, he was given the title Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, and continues to hold a high place in the hearts and minds of many Indians. The Mumbai airport and the biggest railway terminus in the city, among numerous other establishments, are named after him. But this film is not about Shivaji, the King. It is the umpteenth pot boiler remake in Hindi of Telugu mayhem that must be quickly forgotten.

A mother, Parvati, and her two sons, Shivaji and Ashok, live in a village called Mubaarak, in Pakistan. Shivaji was adopted while Ashok is her biological child. We get no hint about the father. Parvati has greater affection for Shivaji, whom she considers brave. Ashok hates Shivaji and spares no opportunity to humiliate him. Communal riots erupt in Mubaarak, and a huge fire engulfs the Hindu settlement. All of the inhabitants leave in a hurry, by sea. Parvati and Ashok are together, but Sivaji ends up in a different boat. They reach Bhavnagar in Gujarat, as refugees. To their horror, they are captured by a local crime-lord, Bhairav Solanki, who forces them to work for him, paying them a pittance.

Shivaji grows up to be an aggressive man, with great strength. All this while, his search for his mother continues. Bhairav has dreams of being nominated the ruling party candidate in the forthcoming legislative assembly elections. When the Party Observer from New Delhi, who has come to decide the nominee, refuses to favour him, and shows some inclination towards a rival candidate, Bhairav plots his murder, on the train to New Delhi. After a heated confrontation, Shivaji gets rid of Bhairav. But there are other mafiosos in the fray: Bhavani and Bhairav’s older brother, who is behind bars, but nothing can stop him.

On account of his bravery and standing-up for the rights of the refugees, Shivaji is bestowed with the title, Chhatrapati. He starts his own companies, and runs clean operations, as compared with the drug-dealing bosses he worked for. But one thing keeps bothering him: Where is his mother? He approaches the police to help find her, but they suggest the Collector’s office. Co-incidentally, he is asked to receive Sapna, a Personal Assistant in the Collector’s office, at the railway station. The two like each other at first sight, and she promises to help him find his mother. Meanwhile, the invidious Ashok, who has been living not too far, with his mother, has discovered that Shivaji is his brother, and he plans to eliminate him. Ashok had told Parvati that Shivaji was dead.

If they have stuck largely to the 2005 Telugu original - screenplay by S.S. Rajamouli, dialogues by M. Rathnam and story by V. Vijayendra Prasad - one must treat Chatrapathi as an exception in the oeuvre of these talents. This version is credited to ‘based on Chatrapathi (2005) by S.S. Rajamouli, screenplay by dialogues by A. Mahadev dialogue by Mayur Puri, story by V. Vijayendra Prasad’. There are several changes in the Hindi version, released 18 years later. SriLanka is substituted by Pakistan, Vizag is replaced by Bhavnagar and, consequently, there is a smattering of Gujarati in the dialogue. Thankfully, there are only four songs against the seven in the original. V. Vijayendra’s story and S. S. Rajamouli’s screenplay are far-fetched, to say the least. What they offer are: refugees travelling long distances, all the way from an undisclosed location in Pakistan to Bhavnagar, sibling rivalry, bonded labour, crime-lords that operate with complete impunity, a hierarchy of bosses who have to be eliminated one by one, a love-at-first-sight, a Collector’s PA who gives away to Shivaji the only picture available of his lost mother, and then promises to launch a search for her, Ashok shooting himself to gain sympathy, a pendant as the definitive identification (this was common in the Hindi films of the 1960s and 1970s).

Having studied in Gujarat, Mayur Puri was not a bad choice for writing the dialogue. He educates us with couple of rare Gujarati words, but fails to come-up with clap-trap lines that stay with you after the film is over. He tries, but what he comes up with don’t have the necessary impact. Most of the characters are normal human beings, caught-up in abnormal situations, or abnormal human beings behaving abnormally. While a lot of the dialogue carries the film forward, as a narrative, we do miss some playing to the gallery stuff, which is what the film essentially is. Three of the four songs are also the penmanship of Puri. In one of these, he further immortalises my birth-place, Bareilly, which has featured in a few songs already. Updating ‘jhumka’ with sandal, he makes it contemporary. Sadly, all the songs are ‘item numbers’, with 500 dancers, including the lead couple, gyrating and making a few lewd gestures. That they are scantily dressed is a given. Shabbir Ahmed writes ‘Window taley’, the lover asking the beloved, while standing below her window, to give him a hug. Apparently, she is on the first floor. That would be some hug!

When you review films like Chatrapathi, you should be reviewing mainly the action scenes. There are so many that they dominate the film. However, we can only comment on the execution, not having been privy to action choreography and the complexity of stunts. Three things are common among almost all films of this genre: one man tackles a battalion, a lot of the villains are given a spin in the air and the hero bounces back on cue, even when mortally wounded. They are present here too. An additional factor is the use of axes, both wielded and hurled. Obviously, guns would leave a trail of dead victims, and that would be the end of the film. So, guns are kept to a minimum. As is police presence. On one riotous occasion, to justify the absence of the lawmen, we have a politician telling the hero that he has told the police not to interfere.

Oh yes, we do have a lot of mush: large crowds uprooted from their homes due to a fire lit by communal elements, mother and her two sons, a Sikh friend of Shivaji called Sikandar who is brutally murdered. But these seem to be exceptions and extraneous, although sentimentality is on offer in good measure. Making his Hindi debut, director V.V. Vinayak (Akhil: The Power of Jua, Khaidi No. 150, Inttelligent-correct spelling) pays tribute to the classic, Mother India (1957), wherein the mother shoots a son who she believes has gone astray. To his credit, he extracts real villainy out of the bad guys and some heart-rending emotions from the lead actor and his mother. Although we have three sides of the hero on display – emotional, explosive and romantic, these are not well integrated. The heroine has no role to speak of.

Meet Bellamkonda Sai Sreenivas, son of Telugu film producer Bellamkonda Suresh. He has done the acting course at Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute at Los Angeles (USA) and Barry John Acting Studio, at Mumbai (India). He also underwent professional training in Vietnam for martial arts and stunts. A decade after he made his debut down south, he marks his Hindustani film debut with Chatrapathi. It is a confident debut in the title role, and he does his stunts with finesse. In the dancing scenes, he looks just a bit comfortable. Overall, he comes across as an actor who can do all that Telugu actors can, in the action genre. Though he has done comedy in Telugu, we have not had a glimpse of that side of Bellamkonda Sai Sreenivas. Nushrratt Bharucha (Dream Girl, Chhorii, Janhit Mein Jaari) as Sapna gets to do a bit of deadpan comedy and a lot of dancing. She seems to be comfortable with her body. Karan Singh Chhabra as Ashok, overdoes the sly, scheming look, but is convincing overall. Vedika Nawani is cast as the teenage girl who is the victim of Ashok’s bad taste prank. She exudes the requisite innocence.

Amit Shivdas Nair is chosen to play a terror-striking baddie, with long hair. Rajendra Gupta, ever dependable, is one of the refugees who stands up for his rights, and pays the price. Freddy Daruwala as Bhairav is another of the uni-dimensional characters, a real villain, as is Sharad Kelkar as Bhavani. Among the large cast are Rajesh Sharma as a legislator, Swapnil, Ashish Singh, Sahil Vaid, Shivam Patil, Auroshika Dey, Monazir Khan, Swapnil Kiiran Kotriwar, Ashish Singh, Shivam Patil, Anup Ingale and Mohamad Moujir. That leaves Bhagyashree. What a consummate performance! Revathy is in the same vein. Bhagyashree is an excellent piece of casting.

Music by Tanishk Bagchi is of a better calibre than seen in many such films. Film editing by Niranjan Devaramane keeps the length at just over two hours, and that will work for the film. Several scenes appear to have been deleted, to give the film extra pace. If only there were two songs instead of four…! Ravi Basrur has done the score, and it goes well with the film. Director of cinematography, Nizar Shafi, traps some real fast action in his camera. The item number stand out bright and colourful. Outdoor songs are picturised in really picturesque locales.

Going by the predominant use of the axe as a weapon, one feels tempted to give the film an Axe Rating!

Rating: **



The Bulletin Board

> The Bulletin Board Blog
> Partner festivals calling now
> Call for Entry Channel
> Film Showcase
 The Best for Fests

Meet our Fest Partners 

Following News

Interview with EFM (Berlin) Director



Interview with IFTA Chairman (AFM)



Interview with Cannes Marche du Film Director
 dailies live coverage from

> Live from India 
> Live from LA
Beyond Borders
> Locarno
> Toronto
> Venice
> San Sebastian

> Tallinn Black Nights 
> Red Sea International Film Festival

> Palm Springs Film Festival
> Kustendorf
> Rotterdam
> Sundance
Santa Barbara Film Festival SBIFF
> Berlin / EFM 
> Fantasporto
Houston WorldFest 
> Julien Dubuque International Film Festival
Cannes / Marche du Film 



Useful links for the indies:

Big files transfer
> Celebrities / Headlines / News / Gossip
> Clients References
> Crowd Funding
> Deals

> Festivals Trailers Park
> Film Commissions 
> Film Schools
> Financing
> Independent Filmmaking
> Motion Picture Companies and Studios
> Movie Sites
> Movie Theatre Programs
> Music/Soundtracks 
> Posters and Collectibles
> Professional Resources
> Screenwriting
> Search Engines
> Self Distribution
> Search sites – Entertainment
> Short film
> Streaming Solutions
> Submit to festivals
> Videos, DVDs
> Web Magazines and TV


> Other resources

+ SUBSCRIBE to the weekly Newsletter
+ Connecting film to fest: Marketing & Promotion
Special offers and discounts
Festival Waiver service

User images

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 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


View my profile
Send me a message