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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: Russian delegation press conference--Bringing the spirits of India, Russia together

IFFI 50: Russian delegation press conference--Bringing the spirits of India, Russia together

Joint production of films and cultural exchange through films will bring the spirit of India and Russia together, said Russian Ambassador to India Mr. Nikolay Kudashev. A joint agreement was signed at Vladivostok in Russia, during September 2019, for expanding cultural exchanges between the two countries. It is time to take advantage of the agreement by working together and reaching our common aims, he said. Mr. Nikolay Kudashev was addressing a media conference at the 50th International Film Festival of India (IFFI), in Panaji, Goa.

Replying to questions, Mr. Kudashev said that it is true that contemporary Russian literature is not adequately represented in India. “The government has plans to bridge this gap by publishing ten of the best Russian books in Hindi and ten of the best Indian books in Russian, every year. Efforts are also on for more exchanges and co-operation in the field of education too,” he said.

On the reach and popularity of Indian films in Russia, Mr. Kudashev said that there is an Indian channel (ZEE) in Russia which brings Bollywood films to viewers in the country on a daily basis, 24 x 7.

Head of the Russian delegation in IFFI and Editor in Chief of Kinoreporter, Ms. Maria Lamesheva said that there is a great interest for Russian films among Indian people. “Diverse films from Russia which got international awards and acclaim have been brought to India for showcasing in IFFI. Films like Abigail portray the fantasies of youngsters”, she said. Maria Lemesheva added that according to the co-production agreement, 40 percent of budget of the film would be given back by the Ministry of culture. She extended her support in facilitating meetings for possible co-productions for future.

Lead actress of ‘Beanpole’ which is one of the eight films being screened in the Country Focus  Section and the recipient of many international awards, Ms. Viktoria Miroshnichenko,  said that ‘Beanpole’ depicts a difficult time in the history of Russia. The film was screened to a packed auditorium on 23 November.  Actor in the Russian film ‘Abigail’  Peter Zekavica, said he grew up watching the TV series Ramayana on television as a child and recalled how it helped him to get in touch with the spiritual side of India. He also thanked the festival for bringing him up-close with some of his Indian heroes at the opening ceremony.

Attending her third IFFI, actor Anfisa Chernickh said that she loved Indian cinema and even though none of her films were showcased at the festival, she was here to support her delegation. Female actor in the Russian film Abigail, Glbe Bochkov, also participated in the media conference. The actors also expressed their keen interest in acting in Indian movies, given opportunities.

Answering a question posed by this writer, Zekavica said that there were five top acting schools in Russia, which taught a mix of Stanislavski and Chekhov styles of acting. He did not go to acting school but has acted in more than 100 movies.

Eight Russian films- Abigail, Acid, Andrei Tarkovsky: A Cinema Prayer, Beanpole, Great Poetry, Once in Trubchevsk , Why Don’t You just Die! and The Hero are being screened in the Country Focus section of IFFI this year.

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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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