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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. 



IFFI 50: Press conferences of Gautam Halder and Pankaj Johar

IFFI 50: Press conferences of Gautam Halder and Pankaj Johar

Nirvana depicts Ramkrishna Paramhansa’s teaching, “Joto mot, toto poth meaning,” there are more than one ways of attaining salvation: Filmmaker Gautam Halder

Gautam Halder, a National award winning Bengali director, spoke about his film Nirban, that deals with rising above petty prejudices and finding nirvana at a Press Conference held on 28th November 2019, the last day of IFFI, at Panaji Goa, "In today's era of globalisation, inferior beliefs have created a dark abyss, greed for power and violence. Astonishingly the ways to overcome these elements are simply hidden in the conscience. Hence we must extend our observation to the environment around," he said.

On the response to his film at IFFI, Halder said that "I didn't expect such a great response here. I interacted with few Bengalis and other international directors, and it has been great experience. It's been amazing and I'm grateful to the organisers for selecting the film."

He feels, "The best award for a film-maker is the reaction of the audience. I don't expect any award, but the reception and acceptability of the audience."

He said that if documentaries are shown a across Indian villages, it'll help build film culture. He added, "It's not very expensive, and we should think about it. There should be a basic film making workshop as it'll generate interest." His film has been made in Bengali and Hindi.

Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 works as a deterrent to Child Traffickers: Film-maker Pankaj Johar

Talking about his non-feature film, Satyarthi, based on the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Kailash Satyarthi, who is one of India's noted crusaders against child trafficking, director Pankaj Johar said, “I know Mr. Satyarthi even before he received the Nobel Prize. I was researching some other film but happened to discuss about his documentary on child labour.” The movie is commissioned by Films Division.

"It is the journey of Mr. Satyarthi, and how he rescues the children, in the film," said Johar at the press conference.

“I also took help from his own organisation. Children who are put into labour are mostly from Orissa, Jharkhand, Bihar and few parts of Uttar Pradesh. The sexual trafficking is mainly from the Northeast and Bengal. The girls are sold in Haryana and Sivakasi down south."

He added, "Parents don't know what happens to their kids and the children are lured, based on false promises. They're never told the reality of the situation."

Nirban Synopsis

When Bijolibala meets with an accident, Hasi volunteers to donate blood to her. Bijolibala gets discharged but is advised complete bed rest. Soon, Hasi’s dedication and warm presence soothes Bijolibala’s mind. When Hasi dies of cancer, Hasi’s child Bhutu finds a new mother in Bijolibala. The twist in the tale comes when a sudden letter reveals that Hasi was originally Hasina, a Muslim who after her marriage chose to spend rest of her life as a Brahmin! Bijolibala is now faced with a spiritual dilemma.

Satyarthi Synopsis

Kailash Satyarthi has spent his lifetime rescuing kids from slavery, and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in 2014. His organisation, Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA), has rescued close to 100,000 kids in the last three decades and has influenced hundreds of traffickers to change their ways. The film looks at his journey, and goes behind the scenes, to witness first-hand how he has changed lives of thousands of children

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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 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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