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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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Against the Sun, Teaser review: Water, water everywhere

Against the Sun, Teaser review: Water, water everywhere Harold Dixon (Garret Dillahunt), Radioman Gene Aldrich (Jake Abel), and Bombardier Tony Pastula (Tom Felton) take off from the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise to search for submarines in the glistening waters of the South Pacific. The three men are strangers, assigned to spend an afternoon together, flying a single-engine torpedo bomber. They should be back on board in time for dinner. But instead of enjoying dinner on the Enterprise, t...

The Lazarus Effect, Review: Death-act and cataract

The Lazarus Effect, Review: Death-act and cataract Back from the dead. Brought back from the dead. One dog and one woman brought back from the dead. The dog as a guinea pig (after a pig failed to make the grade), the woman because her fiancé cannot bear to live without her. But how? The couple and their team are research scientists working on a serum (Lazarus, the original title of the film) that could revive dead beings. One day, it works: a dog is brought back to earth from what the ...

Coffee Bloom, Review: Going thru the grind

  Coffee Bloom, Review: Going thru the grind Meet a Coorgi boy who speaks chaste Hindi with everybody, and practically no Coorgi or Kannada with anybody. Also, he in no way looks like his mother or brother. He meets his girl-friend in Bengaluru and she is a local. She speaks chaste Hindi with everybody too. Her husband is of a Coorgi-Keralite (colloquially called a Mallu after their language, Malayalam) mixed parentage. He has lived in the Middle East and in Australia, but it is Hindi a...

Kingsman—The Secret Service, Review: Tinkering tailors, soldiering spies

      Kingsman—The Secret Service, Review: Tinkering tailors, soldiering spies Opening titles assembled bond-style, prologue in the ‘father’s sacrifice will not go in vain, for the son will step into his shoes, to fight again’ mould, carefully crafted plot that is as contemporary as it could get, a canvas that grows bigger by the minute and a narrative style that is irreverent while paying rich tributes, and preposterous while tickling your ribs as many t...

Oscar Dozen: What this reviewer said about the winners

   Oscar Dozen: What this reviewer said about the winners 1.Best supporting actor WINNER: JK Simmons for Whiplash “J.K. Simmons (Break Point, JOBS, Dark Skies, The Words, long-running white-supremacist villain on HBO’s Oz) is devilish and supremely sadistic. He too is a musician and has been a conductor, which shows. Watch him terrify you and keep you rivetted in the second half of the film.” 2. Achievement in makeup and hairstyling WINNER: The Grand Budape...

Whiplash, Review: ‘Cymbalic decapitation’

Whiplash, Review: ‘Cymbalic decapitation’ On the heels of Birdman comes Whiplash, another, much bigger ode to jazz drumming. Confined to four lead actors—a student, his teacher, his father and his girl-friend—Whiplash builds its own legend around itself, not dissimilar to the way in which sports and war films push their protagonists to the brink, before they can reap the fruits of hard labour and either vanquish the enemy or win encomiums for themselves. Andrew Neyman...

Badlapur—Don’t Miss the Beginning, Review: Some things are missing

Badlapur—Don’t Miss the Beginning, Review: Some things are missing Funny line for a name. It is okay as a tag-line, but to make it part of the name? Did somebody object to the title Badlapur, and was the tag-line merged into the title to overcome that objection? Last December, a film titled Badlapur Boys was released in India, so there sure is some confusion. That one took its name from a fictional village in North India, and was about the game of kabaddi. Here, the name comes fro...

Wild, Review: On your hike to happiness, leave everything behind

Wild, Review: On your hike to happiness, leave everything behind Personal to the point of being alien, Wild is a well-intentioned film that picks incidents from a true story, brings the occasional tear to the eye, yet remains foggy and distant. Haunted by memories of her mother Bobbi who succumbed to cancer at a relatively young age, Cheryl gets into reckless behavior, a heroin addiction, several casual sexual relations and a divorce. Then, in what seems a hurried and unconsidered decision, ...

I Am Offended, Review: Defending the right to offend

I Am Offended, Review: Defending the right to offend It’s all about an idea, says director Jaideep Varma, about film-making. Seeing the timing of his film’s release, one can add another doctrine: It’s all about timing. I Am Offended, a feature length documentary about humour and intolerance, was released on Being Human/You Tube in February 2015, bang in the middle of the ongoing AIB Roast (more on that below) controversy which has polarised the Indian entertainment industry....

Love, Rosie-Review: Love, for Rosie, is not rosy

Love, Rosie-Review: Love, for Rosie, is not rosy When a film is full of tender and emotional moments but peppers itself with half-a-dozen comic interludes, it ends up confusing your sentiments. You ask yourself whether the characters deserve sympathy or should be laughed at. Considering the swings in the narrative, you begin to feel that the writers cannot be serious. So, why do they bring in grim, sad events so strongly? In its defence, Love, Rosie is a bit like life, of the fact-is-stranger...

Roy, Review: ROYters’ block alias ‘balle t balle t’

Roy, Review: ROYters’ block, alias ‘balle t balle t’ Papa Anupam Kher thinks it is something to do with a woman. Son Arjun Rampal calls it writers’ block. Both are right. Grewal Senior was referring to writer-director Kabir Grewal’s predicament in the film, while Rampal was explaining to the viewers why this film was going nowhere! Casanova Grewal has fallen in love with a documentary film-maker named Ayesha Aamir, from London, while shooting his film Guns III in...

Jupiter Ascending, Review: Earthling, give me the Earth!

  Jupiter Ascending, Review: ..and the Earth goes to... Delayed for over seven months beyond its scheduled release, the Wachowskis’ Jupiter Ascending released this week in India and many other territories. The Wachowskis are writers, producers, and directors, most famous for creating The Matrix series. Their last two films, Cloud Atlas and Speed Racer, tanked at the box office. Jupiter Ascending marks the siblings’ long-awaited return to the science-fiction genre. Named after ...

The Boy Next Door, Review: Lo ranking

   The Boy Next Door, Review: Lo ranking Shortly after her divorce from a philandering husband, a woman (school teacher) gets seduced by a mysterious younger man, ostensibly to look after his grand-uncle, who just moved-in across the street. Her ‘reformed’ ex-husband is keen on reconciliation, while the obsessed ‘boy next door’ resorts to stalking and blackmail, to keep them apart. He first befriends her teenage son and brain-washes him against her, and then j...

Wild Card, Review: Raw Deal

  Wild Card, Review: Raw Deal Based on the novel Heat, by William Goldman (now 84, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, All the President’s Men, Marathon Man, Dreamcatcher), who also wrote the screenplay, Wild Card is a lukewarm  a remake of the 1986 movie, starring Burt Reynolds. Las Vegas bodyguard Nick Wild (Jason Statham), who insists on being called a “chaperone”, has a gambling problem, drinks a lot and wants badly to get away for a long holiday. He figures he...

Jaideep Sahni’s Master Class at Film Writers’ Association, Mumbai: 15 years in 150 minutes

  Jaideep Sahni’s Master Class at Film Writers’ Association, Mumbai: 15 years in 150 minutes Bumping into Rajashree, urf (alias) Raju (that is how she likes to be known), a Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) alumnus and novelist, at Mumbai’s Linking Road, on Thursday evening, I told her I was considering attending the Film Writers’ Association’s Master Class by popular film-writer Jaideep Sahni, but the Facebook listing said it was only for members...

Foxcatcher, Review: Catch it now

  Foxcatcher, Review: Catch it now Based on true events, Foxcatcher tells the dark story of the unlikely and ultimately tragic relationship between an eccentric multi-millionaire and two champion wrestlers. When Olympic Gold Medal winning wrestler Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) is invited by wealthy heir John Eleuthère du Pont (Steve Carell) to move on to the du Pont estate and help form a team to train for the 1988 Seoul Olympics at his new state-of-the-art training facility, Schul...

Birdman/The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance, Review: The Expected Vice of Knowledge

Birdman/The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance, Review: The Expected Vice of Knowledge Back in the 1980s and 1990s, actor Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) was known for his superhero role, Birdman, which spawned two sequels. He refused to do the third. Now a-used-to-be-big-star, Riggan is trying hard to make a comeback through drama, by staging Raymond Carver’s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.” He will be co-starring with Lesley (Naomi Watts), who is also a movie star...

Seventh Son, Review: Father Gregory v/s Mother Malkin

                       Seventh Son, Review: Father Gregory v/s Mother Malkin Released two years after the first announced date, the witch-ghost-ghast-ghoul-spook-troll-warlock film fails to scare or absorb. Seventh Son is based on The Spook’s Apprentice, which is the first book in Joseph Delaney’s Wardstone Chronicles Series. In a time of enchantments when legends and magic collide, the sole remaining warrior of a mystic...

DILIP KUMAR: Me and the Padma Vibhushan winner

DILIP KUMAR: Me and the Padma Vibhushan winner Getting the nation’s second highest civilian honour at 92 years and 45 days of age maybe a good example of beating the clock by the proverbial whisker, and Dilip Kumar is a most deserving recipient. But his art has already bagged all possible honours in the 54 year acting career he had, from 1944 to 1998. As a teenager, I earned tons of appreciation for mimicking him in the famous temple-deity confrontation scene from Dil Diya Dard Liya. L...

Mortdecai, Review: Mortal art

  Mortdecai, Review: Mortal art Directed by David Koepp and written by Eric Aronson (who co-wrote 2001’s On the Line, which nobody wants to remember), the film is inspired by the books of Kyril Bonfiglioli. Bonfiglioli died in his late-fifties, in 1985. After attending Oxford, he worked as an art dealer. He described himself as "a marrier of beautiful women and a fair shot with most weapons". He wrote four Charlie Mortdecai novels, and left a fifth unfinished, which was co...

Baby, Review: Premature

Baby, Review: Premature A Wednesday director Neeraj Pandey’s film Baby was previewed for the press on Thursday. It is made under his Friday Films banner and reunites Akshay Kumar with Pandey, after Special 26. Baby is an espionage action-thriller, in a genre similar to his earlier two outings, but much bigger and more ambitious in span. Ajay Singh Rajput is a leading officer in an elite counter-intelligence unit of 16 men, informally called ‘Baby’, because they have a time ...

Dolly Ki Doli (Dolly’s bridal palanquin), Review: The Milky Way

Dolly Ki Doli (Dolly’s bridal palanquin), Review: The Milky Way Dolly Ki Doli is about a cheat called Dolly, and her support gang of confidence tricksters. Their modus operandi is that Dolly’s so-called brother Raju identifies prospects, then Dolly and the gang lures these eligible bachelors into falling in love with Dolly, leading on to marriage. On the wedding night, Dolly serves drug-laced milk to the groom and his immediate family, ensuring they fall into deep slumber, and the...

The Imitation Game, Review: Every spectator is a winner

  The Imitation Game, Review: Every spectator is a winner Before the publication of Oxford mathematician Andrew Hodges’ ground-breaking 1983 biography, Alan Turing: The Enigma, the British mathematician who played a crucial role in breaking the Nazis’ Enigma ciphers during World War II and laid the groundwork for modern notions of artificial intelligence, was little known outside of scientific circles. Hodges’ revelatory account detailed how a man who should have been a ...

The Theory of Everything, Review: A Practical Treat for Everyone

   The Theory of Everything, Review: A Practical Treat for Everyone Among the most brilliant theoretical physicists of his era, and maybe since Einstein, Stephen Hawking turned 73 last week. From 1979 to 2009, he held the post of Lucasian Professor at Cambridge, the chair held by Isaac Newton in 1663. Professor Hawking has over a dozen honorary degrees and was awarded the CBE in 1982. He is a fellow of the Royal Society and a Member of the US National Academy of Science. Besides hi...

Paddington, Review: Please see this film. Thank you.

Paddington, Review: Please see this film. Thank you. In 1956, a BBC cameraman bought a small toy bear left alone on a shelf in the iconic Selfridges store, London, for his wife Brenda. Named Paddington, after the train station close to Michael Bond’s home, the bear inspired him to write eight episodes in just over a week, featuring the bear from Deepest Peru. It was published as a book in 1958. Meanwhile, the station was made famous when ‘4.50 from Paddington’ was published,...

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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.


Bandra West, Mumbai

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