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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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Siraj Syed’s IFFI 2016 diary VIII, Open Forum IV: Courses for horses or horses for courses?

Siraj Syed’s IFFI 2016 diary VIII, Open Forum IV: Courses for horses or horses for courses? Both, really. We are in the age of customised platforms for film viewing finding best-match, multiple-matches and staggered exhibition alternatives for films. A magnum opus like Bahubali (Indian mythological blockbuster franchise) needs a massive, four-digit spanning simultaneous, theatrical release while a Lunch Box (the mouse that roared a couple of years ago), though critically raved, would be...

Siraj Syed’s IFFI 2016 diary, Open Forum III: Skill-building through master classes

Siraj Syed’s IFFI 2016 diary, Open Forum III: Skill-building through master classes An essential feature of every international film festival around the globe, mater classes abound at IFFI too. FFSI, in collaboration with DFF, chose to highlight their benefits in skill-building at the third Open Forum. An open-air affair, it did not attract too many attendees. Firstly, the location was remote and secondly the timing that has been a permanent slot for Open Forum at IFFI is from 1.30 pm t...

Siraj Syed’s IFFI 2016 diary, VI: Life after Ghatak, and breaking mindsets

Siraj Syed’s IFFI 2016 diary, VI: Life after Ghatak, and breaking mindsets Federation of Film Societies of India continues to champion the cause of film culture and appreciation by not only running film societies all over India, but organising the Open Forum at IFFI every year, in collaboration with DFF. At IFFI 2016, it got to share hosting of the six-day platform with the Indian Documentary Producers’ Association (IDPA), the first three days being allotted to FFSI. I missed the ...

Siraj Syed’s IFFI 2016 diary, V: And the Oscar for restoring classics goes to…AMPAS!

Siraj Syed’s IFFI 2016 diary, V: And the Oscar for restoring classics goes to…AMPAS! American body Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) is best known for presenting the annual awards, which are characterised by a figurine called the Oscar. Though that is the face of the academy, it does much more service to the cause of both American and international cinema than most people would imagine, including holding an annual student Oscars. At the Black Box of Panaji&rsqu...

Siraj Syed’s IFFI 2016 diary, IV: BRICS by bricks

Siraj Syed’s IFFI 2016 diary, IV: BRICS by bricks A film festival, with a competition section, was held in September, in New Delhi, preceding the Brazil, India China, Russia and South Africa (BRICS) summit, to which Goa played host last month. 20 films (4 each from member countries) were screened. Awards were given in five categories: (i) Best Film- Thithi (India); (ii) Best Actor Male- Thabo Rametsi (South Africa); (iii) Best Actor Female- Yulia Pereslid (Russia); (iv) Best Director- H...

Siraj Syed’s IFFI 2016 diary, III: Abbasolutely wonderful cinema of Kiarostami

*On a snowy morning/I run out/hatless and coatless/as happy as a child--a brief poem by Abbas Kiarostami. *I believe the films of Kiarostami are extraordinary--Akira Kurosawa. Every year, the International Film Festival of India pays a special tribute to film-makers who have moved on to their heavenly abodes. One such genius was Abbas Kiarostami, the Iranian legend, who passed away on July 4 this year, aged 76, in Paris, where he had been living for many years. In an eventful and rewarding c...

Siraj Syed’s IFFI 2016 diary, II, Andrzej Wajda’s lingering Afterimage

Siraj Syed’s IFFI 2016 diary, II, Andrzej Wajda’s lingering Afterimage Six of Poland’s much raved and long-revered director Andrzej Wajda’s films were on display at IFFI 2016. In a fitting tribute to the international master, who died on 9 October this year, of pulmonary failure, his last film, Afterimage, was the inaugural film here. Afterimage was completed just before his death, and he had even made a draft of the trailer and sent it to his editor, before dying, at ...

Siraj Syed’s diary of IFFI 2016: Thrillers from South Korea

The Office Five South Korean thrillers of various sub-genres were part of the Country Focus at IFFI  2016. They included two films that were shown at Cannes. Culled from latest releases, the selection has been titled Memoirs of Fear. Now a household name across the world thanks to Gangnam Style, a K(orea)-Pop song that shook the world in 2012, Gangnam-gu, in Seoul, is actually a large district where wealthy residential areas sit alongside high-end art facilities and Korea’s busies...

Siraj Syed reviews Shut In: Stephen was a happy shut-in, until Tom had to butt-in

Walk-in, run-in, let-in, give-in, turn-in, move-in, sit-in...now comes shut-in. “A shut-in is a person who, due to physical, mental and/or emotional reasons, is not able to leave his or her home. These conditions can cause a person to feel lonely, isolated, sad and cut off from the rest of the world. Sometimes, they do not have family and friends available to visit and spend time with them. They often lack any kind of companionship.” Shut In, the movie, is a generic psychological t...

Siraj Syed reviews Billy Lynn’s Long Half-Time Walk by Ang Lee

Siraj Syed reviews Billy Lynn’s Long Half-Time Walk by Ang Lee >“Americans are children, who must go somewhere else to grow up, and sometimes die.” > “How does anyone ever know anything—the past is a fog that breathes out ghost after ghost, the present a freeway thunder run at 90 mph, which makes the future the ultimate black hole of futile speculation.” >“It is sort of weird, being honored for the worst day of your life.” Trust Ang ...

I, Daniel Blake, Salesman & 10 other Cannes award-winners at IFFI Goa 2016

I, Daniel Blake, Salesman & 10 other Cannes award-winners at IFFI Goa 2016 A dozen Cannesy films are found in the selection for the 46th International Film Festival of Goa, 2016. Six months after Cannes and one month after the Mumbai Film Festival, those Indians who missed them there have another chance to make good their losses. I have seen only one of the pretty dozen, and though it was a treat for the eyes and ears, it was still anything but a pretty picture.   1. I, Daniel Blak...

IFFI: 1,000 entries from 100 countries

IFFI: 1,000 entries from 100 countries Ten days to go for the commencement of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI), and there is no confirmation for media accreditation as yet. This being the 47th IFFI and my 47th year in film journalism, I am sure the concern is unfounded, though. Also being missed is the customary press conference, which is held well before the event. Meanwhile, here are some of the major attractions expected in Panaji, Goa, during November 20-28. *A staggering...

Siraj Syed reviews Doctor Strange: Surgery and sorcery go hand in hand

Siraj Syed reviews Doctor Strange: Surgery and sorcery go hand in hand Comics can be victims of overkill, especially when they traverse the distance from page to screen. Casting might be (mis)guided by name and fame, when suitability is of greater import. Marvel’s Doctor Strange, with part Disney talent and full distribution channels in tow, is ridden with both pitfalls. It’s a marvel then that the film manages to serve above par, enjoyable fare, for which credit largely goes to t...

American Horizon on the Indian Kshitij, a month away from release

American Horizon on the Indian Kshitij, a month away from release Rare indeed. A Mumbai-based film professional named Navroz Prasla (no, not the Parsee or Irani Navroz, but a Khoja community member) moves to Houston, USA  and sets up a media and event company, gets interested in a Marathi story, and produces an all Marathi cast and crew film called Kshitij (A Horizon), the only non-Maharashtrian being Oscar-winning Sound Designer, Resul Pookutty. The film is now complete, and the PR age...

Turkey--key country at Mumbai Film Festival, by Siraj Syed

(Ms. Alin Taşçiyan-President Fipresci, Ambassador of Turkey to India--H.E. Mr. Burak Akçapar and Leading Actor--Mr. Ali Sarp Levendoğlu) Turkey--key country at Mumbai Film Festival, by Siraj Syed ‘Zabaan-e-yaar-e-man Turkey, va man Turkey na mee daanam’ went a duet in the Hindi film Ek Musafir Ek Haseena, made in the late 50s/early 60s. The lines are not in Turkish, but Farsee (Persian), and translate as ‘My love(r)’s language is Turkish, and I do not ...

Siraj Syed on 18th Mumbai Film Festival: Godless, Madly, Red Turtle meets Barakah

Siraj Syed on 18th MFF: Godless, Madly, Red Turtle meets Barakah Far from catching up on film viewing shortfall, I could see fewer films in the second half of the 18th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival (MFF) with STAR. It was a deadly combination of several factors: Tickets sold out, no luck with walk-ins, inability to wake up early, traffic jams and unavoidably long travel times, the desire to attend two or three non-screening events, the choice of some films over others shown at the same or alm...

MAMI’s 18th MFF schedule had gaping holes

MAMI’s 18th MFF schedule had gaping holes Multiple venues spread far and wide, across the Western and Eastern, Southern and Northern tips of the linear city of Mumbai meant that persons living in those areas where the cinemas are located would have easier access to them and would save a lot of time commuting. If we measure the distances between the farthest separations, it could take 2 ½ to 3 hours for a passenger to reach the corresponding venue. Include return travel, and you a...

Siraj Syed reviews Shivaay: She: Vaay? He: Vaay not?

Siraj Syed reviews Shivaay: She: Vaay? He: Vaay not? Shivaay is a balanced film, in a convoluted kind of way. There is a germ of a story and there is major plagiarism of tracks from both Hollywood and Indian films. There is breath-taking action and there are pointless stunts. There is high proficiency acting and there is insult to talent. There is a small component of genuine humour and a large dose of unintentionally silly moments. There is organic unity in the screenplay when you match the ...

MAMI inaugural screening: 104-minute wait for 104-minute film

MAMI inaugural screening: 104-minute wait for 104-minute film Organisers of the Jio MAMI’s 18th Mumbai Film Festival (MFF) with STAR chose actress Konkona Sen-Sharma’s directorial debut film, A Death in the Gunj as the opening film. In a continually perplexing schedule, the opening film, for the last couple of years, is not screened on the opening day, and not even at the inaugural venue. This year, the inauguration ceremony was held at the restored Opera House cinema. Located at...

Siraj Syed on how Jack Reacher 2: Never Go Back keeps running helter-skelter

Siraj Syed on how Jack Reacher 2: Never Go Back keeps running helter-skelter Produced by Tom Cruise himself, this second edition of the ex Military Police (MP) Major Jack Reacher (Cruise)’s exploits has three other actors in key roles: Cobie Smulders plays Virginia Military Police Susan Turner (the new head of Reacher’s former unit), Danika Yarosh co-stars as the 15 year-old, who (as the movie’s synopsis gets you to guess) may or may not be Reacher’s daughter. And ther...

Le Reve in race against time for Jio MAMI’s 18th Mumbai FF with Star

Le Reve in race against time for Jio MAMI’s 18th Mumbai FF with Star A dream name alright: Le Reve. But beating the clock might be proving a nightmare to the workers who are preparing this renovated single screen cinema to be ready in time for the first screening on Friday morning. That is when Jio MAMI’s 18th Mumbai Film Festival (MFF) with Star kicks off a cross a multitude of theatres. Le Reve is the only one in the upmarket Bandra suburb of West Mumbai, which is now more an ex...

Bobby Sarma Baruah requests you to see her film The Golden Wing at Jio MAMI FF

Bobby Sarma Baruah requests you to see her film The Golden Wing at Jio MAMI FF “My 86-minute film on the legendary folk singer Pratima Baruah Pandey is being screened at the 18th Jio MAMI Film Festival with STAR. There will be two screenings, the first one on 23rd October, at 10.30 am at the PVR Phoenix multiplex and the second on the 26th, at 7.30 pm, at PVR ECX multiplex. Do try and catch it,” she says, on the line from Guwahati, Assam. Of course, she will attend the festival he...

India’s tiny northern neighbour Bhutan at Jio MAMI’s 18th Mumbai FF with Star

India’s tiny northern neighbour Bhutan at Jio MAMI’s 18th Mumbai FF with Star A nine-member Bhutanese delegation, led by Dasho Karma W Penjor, Honourable Secretary of Ministry of Information and Communications, will participate in the Mumbai. Other members will include important members of Department of Information and Media, and members from the Bhutan Film Association. Bhutan is known as ‘The Land of the Thunder Dragon’ at the Festival. Supported by governme...

Baahubali 2: The Conclusion, First Look at 18th Jio MAMI Film Festival with STAR

Baahubali 2: The Conclusion, First Look at 18th Jio MAMI Film Festival with STAR After watching the National Award winning film Baahubali, everyone was left with the same question, “Why did Kattappa kill Baahubali?” They had to wait for the sequel to get the answer. Or else head for the Jio MAMI Movie Mela (fair) with Star, which is two days dedicated to popular Indian cinema. One of the major highlights there is the first look of Baahubali 2: The Conclusion, which will be showcas...

Restored Pak-Indo classic dropped from Jio MAMI’s 18th Mumbai Film Festival with STAR

Faiz  Restored Pak-Indo classic dropped from Jio MAMI’s 18th Mumbai Film Festival with STAR At Jio MAMI’s 18th Mumbai Film Festival with STAR, which kicks off in two days’ time, of particular interest to film historians and cineastes in general was the Pakistani film, Jago Hua Savera (Day Shall Dawn). It was the only film from that country to find place in the programme. The inclusion sparked off controversy in the wake of hostilities along the border and several promin...

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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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