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Siraj Syed


Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for FilmFestivals.com 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. 

 

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Pitch Perfect 3, review: Fat Amy’s tall father and DJ Khaled’s Bella a capella

Pitch Perfect 3, review: Fat Amy’s tall father and DJ Khaled’s Bella a capella Wrapping-up the three-part series, the third instalment queers the pitch and is not perfect by a long mile. Some tweens have enjoyed their 93 minutes at the cinema-house, judging by the box-office collections, and so be it. More discerning cine-goers might have a flippant time at best, watching some caustic exchanges, routine choreography and songs that don’t stay with you too long. Three years ...

All the Money in the World, Review: Ear today, gone tomorrow

All the Money in the World, Review: Ear today, gone tomorrow Cinquanta to Gail: “Who is this so-called grandfather? How can he leave his own flesh and blood in the plight that your poor son is in? Here is the richest man in America, and you tell me he refuses to find just 10 miliardi for his grandson’s safety. Signora, you take me for a fool.” Two Ridley Scott releases in the same year? Alien Covenant and All the Money in the World mark the repeat of a phenomenon that occur...

16th Third Eye Asian Film Festival: VI

16th Third Eye Asian Film Festival: VI Three Marathi films are the focus of today’s post: Nati Khel, Nadi Vahate and Copy. They were shown as part of a package at that consisted of as many as eight films, the maximum in any language from any Indian language. TEAFF is organised by the Asian Film Foundation and P.L. Deshpande Maharashtra Kala Academy, and co-organised by Prabhat Chitra Mandal and Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Chitrapat Mahamandal. It is supported by Department of Culture, Gover...

16th Third Eye Asian Film Festival: V

16th Third Eye Asian Film Festival: V Open Forum, a festival tradition, was held at the 16th Third Eye Asian Film Festival too, on six of the eight days. It was thoughtfully scheduled between 2 and 3 pm, December 22-27, a slot when no films were being screened. Santosh Pathare of Prabhat Film Society moderated. Compared to the International Film Festival of India (IFFI), Open Forum here was confined to an interaction with the cast/directors/producers of films screened on earlier day(s). Santo...

New Year Greetings, 2018: Let’s begin with a few laughs from films & comedians

New Year Greetings, 2018: Let’s begin with a few laughs from films & comedians Dialogue ֍ "Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room."      -Dr. Strangelove: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) ֍ "Don't you find it a little bit (of a) coincidence that the body fell perfectly within the chalk       outline on the floor?"       - "I think...

The Greatest Showman, Review: Also fraudster, huckster and the King of humbug!

The Greatest Showman, Review: Also fraudster, huckster and the King of humbug! Hollywood’s great showman Cecil B. DeMille's The Greatest Show on Earth (1952) was a grandiose, over-the-big-top tribute to circuses, and won the Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Story. It was the story of the Ringling Circus and not about Phineas Taylor Barnum, who has inspired the film at hand. The Greatest Showman is about P.T. Barnum, and the reference to the film of 65 years ago is made becau...

Jumanji-Welcome to the Jungle, Review: You only live thrice

Jumanji-Welcome to the Jungle, Review: You only live thrice If you happen to get your hands on a board-game called Jumanji, you and all within range will be transported to a virtual jungle, where virtually all imaginable forms of carnivorous animals will vie with each other to gobble you up. But even if they do, do not worry, you will still live, to die another day, by falling off a cliff, perhaps. Now that you have used up two of your allotted three lives (nine are for cats only), you better...

16th Third Eye Asian Film Festival: IV

16th Third Eye Asian Film Festival: IV Screenings continued on Day 4, 5 and 6, and two films were memorable. One was a blast from 1956, made by an all-time great, and the other a laudable 2011 effort, shot in his home country, guerrilla style, by a returning prodigy, without permission I managed to attend nine shows out of the 15, which is a reasonable score. But here I will speak of just two films, since there is much to say. Return to Burma, 2011, 84 min So now we know that Ice Poison ...

16th Third Eye Asian Film Festival: III

16th Third Eye Asian Film Festival: III Of the 10 feature films screened at the 16th Third Eye Asian Film Festival (TEAFF) during the first three days, I caught four and opted out of a fifth because I had seen it, albeit decades ago. Two of these were Indian, one Egyptian and one from Taiwan-Myanmar. Ziprya, based on the Arun Sadhu novel and chosen as the inaugural film, was big let-down. Made in amateurish style, full of tropes and stock screenplay, it did great disservice to the memory of ...

16th Third Eye Asian Film Festival: II

16th Third Eye Asian Film Festival: II Prominent writer-journalist, late Arun Sadhu, winner of the Sahitya Akademi Award, was honoured posthumously at the inaugural function of the 16th Third Eye Asian Film Festival (TEAFF), on 21 December, at the Ravindra Natya Mandir Mini Auditorium. Sadhu, who wrote mainly in Marathi but also penned works in English and Hindi, passed away in Mumbai three months ago, aged 76. At the ceremony, he was represented by his wife Aruna and daughter Shefali. Kiran ...

16th Third Eye Asian Film Festival opens in Mumbai on 21 December

16th Third Eye Asian Film Festival opens in Mumbai on 21 December Prabhat Chitra Mandal, one of India’s oldest and most active film societies that is celebrating its golden jubilee this year, in collaboration with P.L. Deshpande Maharashtra Kala Academy, is holding its 16th Third Eye Asian Film Festival in Mumbai, supported by the Department of Culture, Government of Maharashtra. The festival will be inaugurated on Thursday, the 21st of December, 2117. The inauguration will be followed ...

Newton, Review: Gravity of the situation

Newton, Review: Gravity of the situation Had he been alive in the modern period, the British scientist would have bagged multiple Nobel prizes for his pioneering work in Physics. As it happens, the film of the same name, not a biopic of Sir Isaac, rather about an idealist in the Indian bureaucracy, has been eliminated from the race for the Oscars. A million or more Newtonians are feeling heart-broken that a film that they considered a breakthrough, and the best film made in India in recent t...

Star Wars-The Last Jedi, Review: The Lost Jedi

Star Wars-The Last Jedi, Review: The Lost Jedi George Lucas maintains that his Star Wars films were for kids. Back in the late 70s, when the trade-mark skewed angle intro rolling text greeted us as the film began, I was not a kid. Maybe the sensibilities of an Indian film-goer at 25 were akin to the school-kids in the West, but I loved what I saw. Since, I have seen most, if not all, the core movies and the spin-offs/anthologies, most of them likeable, but the 40th anniversary release saw me ...

Shashi Kapoors don’t die: Part I

Shashi Kapoors don’t die: Part I Showbiz is often cruel, usually ruthless. It takes so many factors to make it as an actor, luck or lineage included. Then, you need to stay on, weather flops and hits, and keep grabbing opportunities, in the hope that the next one will do it for you. Son of Prithviraj Kapoor, Balbir (Shashi) Raj Kapoor had done his bit of drama at his Papajee’s Prithvi Theatre, like his two older brothers (Ranbir) Raj Kapoor and Shamsher (Shammi) Raj Kapoor. They h...

Mark Felt--The Man Who Brought Down the White House, Review: Clearing Deep Throat

Mark Felt--The Man Who Brought Down the White House, Review: Clearing Deep Throat After John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, at age 46, which remains an unresolved conspiracy 53 years later, there was another political event that pinned dirty political tricks on President Richard Nixon around the time of his re-election, and he had to resign soon after being re-elected, in 1974. The Watergate exposé was published by two journalists of the Washington Post and one from Time Mag...

Daddy’s Home 2, Review: Audience’s at home too

Daddy’s Home 2, Review: Audience’s at home too When you can count twelve credited parts, and five of them are children, you might yourself arithmetically challenged. For relief, the film is titled Daddy’s Home 2, which, thankfully, does not make you look for your abacus. But you do realise that in this case, 2 is 1 too many. Okay, so we will make no comparisons to the first outing a couple of years ago, and accept that in part II, as in Chapter I, the two Daddies are going t...

Anna Karenina-Istoriya Vronskogo, Review: ‘Vronsky’s story’ does no justice to Tolstoy

Anna Karenina-Istoriya Vronskogo, Review: ‘Vronsky’s story’ does no justice to Tolstoy “If the world could write by itself, it would write like Tolstoy"—Russian author Isaak Babel. Not being an authority on Leo Tolstoy’s writings of over 100 years ago, I cannot give my views on this rather sweeping statement. But after seeing the latest interpretation of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina in Russian/dubbed and sub-titled in English, a mini-TV series turned...

IFFI Goa 2017, XVIII: 55 years of Bondage

IFFI Goa 2017, XVIII: 55 years of Bondage A thousand eyebrows were raised at the inclusion of a James Bond package in the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) Goa 2017. This was a first retrospect/tribute dedicated to a fictional character, the British MI6 spy who first appeared on screen in 1962. It was hotly debated whether the idea had any merit, considering retrospectives were hitherto confined to directors and countries. As many as nine Bond capers were screened, and at the cost ...

IFFI Goa 2017, XV: UnSeen Durga and the Nude that nobody saw

IFFI Goa 2017, XV: UnSeen Durga and the Nude that nobody saw Among the many controversies and shake-ups that IFFI Goa 2107, one concerns the exclusion of two Indian films from the Indian Panorama. S*** Durga (name altered under instructions from the Central Board of Film Certification) and Nude. Durga was made by a Keralite director in Kerala while Nude is a Marathi film. The former uses Durga only as an allegory and there is no reference to the deity, while the latter is a docu-feature on th...

Shashi Kapoor gone? What a huge loss!

Shashi Kapoor gone? What a huge loss! Nine years ago, the Pune International Film Festival honoured Shashi Kapoor with a Life-time Achievement Award. He had already suffered a stroke and could only mumble, yet his presence lit up the auditorium. I felt privileged to have contributed his profile to the official brochure of the festival, but a tear ran down my cheek as he was given the award. As the news of his passing away came in an hour ago, I felt deeply distraught. We had worked together i...

IFFI Goa 2017, XVII: Films and ratings

IFFI Goa 2017, XVII: Films and ratings For the first time in many years, I decided not to write while the festival was on, and catch-up on as many films as possible. Of course, I did attend two Open Forums and two dinners, but that was about all that kept me away from watching movies. That, and my inability to wake-up early enough to catch the morning screenings. Here’s a brief description of the films I managed to catch, and their ratings on a scale of 0-*****. A few were insufferable...

IFFI Goa 2017, XVI: Self regulation is very important for documentary film-makers

*In quoting me, the word creditability has been used. 'Credibility' is the correct word.  *The clubbing of Films Division in the same quote is out of context as FD does not post news on social media. *Mike Pandey's Green Oscar winning film is titled Shores of Silence, not Whale Shark Hunting, as the report says. Incidentally, Mike Pandey is the President of the Indian Documentary Producers' Association and a former Chairman of the IFFI Steering Committee. (This writer t...

IFFI Goa 2017, XIV: Open Forum: 'Social media an enabler, not competitor for documentary filmmaking'

IFFI Goa 2017, XIV: Open Forum: 'Social media an enabler, not competitor for documentary filmmaking' Panellists, however, added a caveat that the authenticity of videos needs to be verified as they have the potential to create social unrest. 27 Nov 2017 12:57 IST The Open Forum organised by IDPA (Independent* Documentary Producers' Association) on Sunday, 26 November, was the topic, 'Crowding the social media: Is documentary only source of genuine information?'  &nb...

IFFI Goa 2017, XIII: Open Forum-Film personalities rue abuse of technology

IFFI Goa 2017, XIII: Open Forum-Film personalities rue abuse of technology 26 Nov 2017 06:59 IST By Blessy Chettiar The Indian Documentary Producers’ Association organised its first Open Forum this year at the 48th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Panaji, Goa. The topic — Are actors losing control due to changing technologies? — was passionately debated by French filmmaker Pierre Assouline, former senior producer of Doordarshan Syam GK, Odia film Khyanikaa...

IFFI Goa 2017, XII: Winners’ List, and a few regrets

IFFI Goa 2017, XII: Winners’ List, and a few regrets It was an evening of regret. At the closing ceremony of the 48th International Film Festival of India (IFFI), which concluded in Panaji, Goa on November 28, six films/directors made it to the top, of which I had seen only 30% of one, the only one to win two prizes. Why I did not see the others, and why only 30% of a particular one will be explained below. But first, the LIST. Films  (In absentia) 1. Morocco-born French Directo...

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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 FilmFestivals.com 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.


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