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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. 



Puranjay Khanna’s debut book of poems, Second Star, released on his birthday

Puranjay Khanna’s debut book of poems, Second Star, released on his birthday

For many a literate person, reading was a lifeline throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. With the world on pause, many found themselves reading more than ever. While pandemic led to increased readership, it also gave rise to many writers. One among them is a young lad, Puranjay Khanna, whose debut book, titled Second Star got released yesterday, in the presence of renowned dignitaries, at the Taj Land’s End Hotel, Bandra, Mumbai.

The Chief Guest of the book launch event was the Honorable Ambassador of the Republic of Estonia in India, Her Excellency, Ms. Katrin Kivi, while the Guest of Honour was Sumit Mullick, the Chief Information Commissioner of Maharashtra. The book launch event also saw guest performers, stage and film actor Denzil Smith and Captain Allwyn Saldanha.

Puranjay Khanna was born in Delhi but raised in Mumbai. The young writer studied in Bombay Scottish, École Mondiale and later went on to Brunel University for Under-graduation in Business and Management, followed by Post Graduation in Global Enterprise and Entrepreneurship, from Southampton University. Currently, working with his father, Puranjay came up with the idea of writing a book during the pandemic.

“I chose to not waste my time during the lockdown and, instead, to spend my time writing about every single thought I was going through, as a coping method to get through all of my emotions during that unpredictable time,” said Puranjay, on the occasion.

He further added, “The book is about finding hope even in the darkest and the most uncertain times. Second star reflects my growth as a human being over the last few years. It’s meant to be highly introspective, as well as observational, in terms of a world around me, as also myself. It’s about hope, love and anything under the sun that can be defined as life. It’s meant to be thought provoking as well as something that would maybe help a few people and enlighten their path in whatever journey they are on.”

Ms. Katrin Kivi, Puranjay and his parents

Denzil Smith, my old college friend, read a few of the poems, some to the accompaniment of Allwyn Saldanha, on the guitar, and some with the titles announced by the mistress of ceremonies, Shreya, with a bang for effect. Denzil was in his element, doing full justice to the poems, which were meta-physical and astro-physical in nature. Later, he mentioned to me that he was soon staging a Tom Stoppard play, and had an hour-long converstion with the master playwright, whi is now 85.

Denzil Smith and Sumit Mullick are on the right

Ms. Katrin Kivi spoke briefly, while Sumit Mullick took his time, and spoke very impressively. He mentioned that some of the great English poets wrote much less than 100 poems, some as little as five, and for a budding writer to pen 110 was no mean achievement. At the end of the formalities, a large cake was cut, since it also happened to be Puranjay’s birthday. The guests were later treated to sumptuous snacks, wine and beer. And I must mention that Shreya, looking gorgeous, did a superb job of compèring the event. I heard Puranjay tell her that there is always a first time. And if, indeed, this was the first time that she was compèring a function, full marks to her. The grassy poolside of the hotel provided an idyllic setting for the launch of the book.

Second Star, a reference to Peter Pan and Neverland, is a collection of 110 poems, written in prose style, using free verse and stream of consciousness, is released under the Notion Press label and is priced at Rs. 805.


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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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