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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. 



IFFI diary, Part I: Delhi's gain, IFFI's loss?

In mid October 2014, the Press Information Bureau (PIB) of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, started calling for accreditations from media-persons. Soon after the International Film Festival of Mumbai (IFFM) got over, journalists started applying for the same. It would be 10 years since the travelling festival moved to Panaji, Goa, and took-up permanent residence there, and in power was Goa's Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who had been in office in 2004 too. Attendees have admired his hands-on and no fanfare approach whenever he is at the helm during IFFI (his party has been in and out of office a few times in these 10 years). Once, in 2004, I was pleasntly surprised to discover that the man supervising the road repairs outside the main venue late at night was he, and also once again to find him supervising, but effectively standing as an usher, at a major function held at Kala Academy, during IFFI.

During late October, one started hearing about several friends trying to register as media-persons and others as delegates, but unable to do so due to PIB's website issues. It happened to me too. Copies of the filled-in online registration form, which just did not go through on clicking SEND, were sent to half a dozen persons, both at PIB and at the Directorate of Film Festivals (DFF). Nobody responded. The problem persisted for two weeks, and repeated reminders were sent. Nobody replied. A regular attendee told me not to use Google Chrome but to use Internet Explorer, since PIB's website is more accessible via IE. Ironically, I always use Internet Explorer. Even more ironic was the fact that when my form did go through, three weeks after I started my attempts to register, it was through Google Chrome.

Hotels in Panaji are in great demand and rooms are in shoprt supply due to the special Exposition of Saint Francis Xavier, which clashes with the festival. Parwinder Gavas of Hotel Delmon, had assured me back in May of a room at an affordable rate for my two-week stay for IFFI. He backed out in August, quoting the Exposition. Later, he offered to find me a room at another, similar hotel, within my budget, but then became incommunicado. When I spoke to him again in September, he said he would still try, but did nothing. Last week, he said he had one room, but he would charge me twice the rate which I had been assured, and that was after a generous 30% discount. That ended the poossibility of staying at Delmon. My regular, Trimurti, is out of the running, because my body is unable to withstand the night-time heat and humidity in Panaji, and I cannot sleep under the agingTrimurti fan, which is far from fast. Old-timer journalist and friend Mohan Siroya suggested Hotel Keni's, an affordable, air-conditioned option, and luckily they had a room available. Mr. Dilip Kumar from the hotel's management confirmed my booking. So, I will be reaching Goa on Tuesday, the 18th, late evening, and staying at Keni's.

A week ago, some 10 days before IFFI is scheduled to begin, Parrikar was summoned to New Delhi to take over as Defence Minister, and thus forced to vacate his CM's chair in Goa. It was felt by a host of Indians, especially numerous Goans, that Goa's loss was New Delhi's gain. Some doubts are now being raised whether IFFI 2014 will have the same ambience that it did during the years when Parrikar was in-charge. Is New Delhi's gain going to be IFFI's loss too?

Meanwhile, some announce ments have been made by DFF.

*The Chief Guest for the inauguration ceremony will be Amitabh Bachchan

*Indian Centenary Personality of the Year will be Rajanikanth

*Wong Kar Wai will be given the Lifetime Achievemnt award

*The 26 films to be shown under the Indian Panorama are:

S.No. Title of the Film Language Director

1. Othello Assamese Hemanta Kumar Das

2. Punashcha Bengali Souvik Mitra

3. Chotoder Chobi Bengali Kaushik Ganguly

4. Bodhon Bengali Ayananshu Banerjee

5. Jodi Love Dile Na Praane Bengali Ms. Sudeshna Roy & Mr. Abhijit Guha

6. Teenkahon Bengali Bauddhayan Mukherji

7. Gour Hari Dastaan - The Freedom File Hindi Ananth Narayan Mahadevan

8. Ankhon Dekhi Hindi Rajat Kapoor

9. 1-December Kannada P. Sheshadri

10. Ri Khasi Pradip Kurbah

11. 1983 Malayalam Abrid Shine

12. North 24 Kaatham Malayalam Anil Radhakrishnan Menon

13. Njan Steve Lopez Malayalam Rajeev Ravi

14. Drishyam Malayalam Jeethu Joseph

15. Munnariyippu Malayalam Venu

16. Swapaanam Malayalam Shaji N. Karun

17. Njaan Malayalam Ranjith

18. Ek Hazarachi Note Marathi Shrihari Sathe

19. Elizabeth Ekadashi Marathi Paresh Mokashi

20. Killa Marathi Avinash Arun

21. Dr. Prakash Baba Amte - The Real Hero Marathi Samruddhi Porey

22. Yellow Marathi Mahesh Limaye

23. Lokmanya – Ek Yugpurush Marathi Om Raut

24. A Rainy Day Marathi Rajendra Talak

25. Adim Vichar Odiya Sabyasachi Mohapatra

26. Kuttram Kadithal Tamil Bramma G.


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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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