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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. He is also an acting and dialogue coach. 



IFFI 52, 019: Life in post-Soviet Union Ukraine

IFFI 52, 019: Life in post-Soviet Union Ukraine

“My film, Rhino, is very violent and tough. I wanted to show the life in Post-Soviet Ukraine during the ‘wild’ 1990s through this film,” said director of IFFI 52 World Panorama film, Rhino, Oleh Sentsov. He was addressing a media interaction at the 52nd International Film Festival of India.

“I am a self-taught person and moved to film-making late. Life is short and I want to keep making films,” said Oleh Sentsov, whose movie Rhino also had its Asian Première at IFFI52. The film was also shown at Venice Film Festival 2021, earlier.

Veronica Welch, who is part of Rhino team, while interacting with the media, said that “We were not sure how the film will be understood by audience world over, as the topic of collapse of Soviet Union is very local. But art connects people and our film shows that life is a combination of our choices, and the environment around us, and there is always a question of how much control we have over those circumstances.”

Speaking about portrayal of rising violence in Rhino, Oleh Stentsov said, “I hate criminal dramas and hate violence, but wanted this film to be realistic. It is based on real story of mine and the character lives a different and not so good life, but he changes after some incidents happen with him. I wanted to show this criminal world without any efforts to bring romance into the story. I wanted to show how real world is.”

He further added, “It is my effort to show to the current generation how was life in Ukraine in the nineties. It will remove any misconceptions that they may have about life in Ukraine at that time.”

Veronica Welch added, “It is an effort to educate youth that life in social media is not real and we have to work hard to make a decent living. Crime is not the way to get there and they may end up paying a heavy price for indulging in criminal activities.”

Rain is a story of petty thief, a young man nicknamed Rhino, who quickly works his way up the criminal hierarchy, in 1990s, Ukraine. Rhino has only known power and cruelty, but with nothing left to lose, could he finally find a chance at redemption?

Director of movie, Oleh Sentsov, was born on 13 July 1976 in Simferopol, Crimean Oblast, Ukrainian SSR. He is an ethnic Russian. From 1993 to 1998 he was an economics student in Kyiv and later took courses in film direction and screen-writing in Moscow.


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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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