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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. 



Interview with Alain Corneau: India every year

Alain Corneau: India every year

French film-maker Alain Corneau plays jazz music, has a kind smile, speaks English reasonably well and is an India-lover. He's a member of the jury for the competition section at IFFI 2005, and will also be presenting his latest film, The Words of Blue. Siraj Syed spoke to the maker of films like Le Nouveau Monde and Le Cousin, and his love affair with India.

Siraj: Is this your first trip to India?

Alain: Oh no! Ever since 1982, when I came to India for the first time, it has been India year-after-year. Sometimes once a year, sometimes even twice in a year. My favourite destinations are Mumbai and Goa, but I travel around too. I even shot my film Nocturne Indien here.

Siraj: What was the subject of Nocturne Indien?

Alain: It was the story of a European man who comes wandering to India, to seek peace, and expects to find it here. But in the end, he finds peace within, not in any external source. The story was written by a Frenchman who had settled in Italy.

Siraj: Were there any Indian actors in it?

Alain: Quite a few. One of them was the late Iftikhar. The climax was shot at Fort Aguada. That is where I stay, whenever I come to Goa. After IFFI 2005, my wife and I will head for Aurangabad, to see Ajanta and Ellora.

Siraj: Your wife Nadine is a film-maker too, right?

Alain: That's right! She is a writer-director. We have always come here together. Sometimes we bring our children along, but this time, only the two of us have come here. Just as our children are growing and changing, I find India and Goa changing every time I visit.

Siraj: Has Goa changed enough to merit hopes of becoming the Cannes of the East? You should be able to comment with authority on this debate, being a Frenchman!

Alain: I will comment. You need to build a culture around the festival. And a proper festival centre! Cannes does host an international film festival of great class, but it has a somewhat European point of view on world cinema. Goa could project an Indian/Eastern perspective on world cinema at IFFI. That could be its unique quality.

Siraj: Are you enjoying your duty as a jury member?

Alain: Well, I do not like to pass judgment on anybody and anything. But at IFFI, I have to remember that the makers who send in their entries have consciously chosen to send their films for judging, so they naturally expect judgment. As a juror, instead of assessing faults and drawbacks, I believe in appreciating the finer points and comparing only those qualities between the entries, to choose the best.

Siraj: Are you planning another film here, in India?

Alain: If I find a suitable script, why not? However, I would not like to make film with an Indian subject or Indian theme. Although I am a great India-lover, I cannot claim that understand Indian hearts and minds enough to create effective Indian characters and make the film believable and acceptable to every Indian. Therefore, if I do make a film here, it will be a European's look at India.

Prof. Siraj Syed

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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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