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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: Some people will work, some will bless—Rohit Shetty

IFFI 50: Some people will work, some will bless—Rohit Shetty

The last session at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) Goa ended with a bang with blockbuster director Rohit Shetty, moderated by senior journalist and film critic Mayank Shekhar.

“I have been here before. This is my second time. I was given the State Honour before. I have shot 12 films here. 14 years ago, I shot Golmaal 1here. People are very positive here, the landscape is very beautiful,” Rohit said.

How did the journey of Golmaal start?

“I was making a thriller with Ajay Devgn, and Neeraj Vora came to me. He said I have a play, would you want to hear it and make a film on it? I went to Ajay and said, I don’t want to make the thriller now but want to make this (play into a film). Ajay said, “You are an action director, I am an action actor, you want to make a comedy?” But he agreed. That time, it was matter of survival for me. Zameen, my first film, had not done well.”

Who are the directors you have grown up watching?

“Manmohan Desai and Vijay Anand. I have grown up on larger than life films. I believe in that cinema, I believe in economics. Ticket rates are high, I want to give the audiences entertainment if they are giving me their hard earned money. I like all kind of cinema though.”

You were on sets with your father (actor director/fight composer Shetty)...When did you think of joining the industry?

“I visited lot of sets with my father. Shalimar was my first outdoor experience. I always thought this is what I would be doing...I would be an action director, like my dad. I started when I was 16...After school...I never went to college. I assisted for all Ajay Devgn films. I was assistant to Veeruji (Devgn, Ajay’s late father and another well-known action director).”

What would you say to the younger generation?

“You should always be a student. You should always observe and there is something about everyone. If someone has reached somewhere, that is because he or she deserves it. Veeruji to Amitji (Amitabh Bachchan) to Ajay, look at their sincerity. I believe, if you are being paid a hundred rupees, you should do the job of a thousand rupees. Every day you should thank God and never take anything for granted.”

You lost you dad at a very early age, was it hard? “It was very hard, it was not easy. But when you become successful, it becomes a story. My mother had no money to pay my school fees...But I was always positive, never blamed anyone. I feel blaming never helps, moving forward helps.”

How was it when the first film didn’t do well?

“If a film doesn’t do well, you feel people say Zameen was a good film and I am like, “Arre tabhi tum kahan the?” (where were you then?), he laughed.

On being asked if it ever crossed his mind that he is good at comedy. Rohit answered “I never knew I had that in me.”

How did Singham happen?

I was making comedies and they were all doing well. Then I thought, am I taking the easy way out? I told Ajay about it, Ajay said, “If you ever have an action script, bring it to me. That’s how Singham started.”

You do a lot for actors or technicians who do not have work now...

“Not only me...lots of others do too. They don’t come and talk about it. The smallest team I ever had on a film is of 250 people. My dad also used to do that...Some people who worked with my dad, are also working with me...Log poochhte hain (people ask), what are so many people doing on your set? ...I say Kuchh log kaam karenge, kuchh log dua denge (some people will work, some will bless).”

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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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