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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, Festival Diary, Part II

A 40 minutes delayed flight on Jet Airways from Mumbai to Panaji, accreditation badge not ready on arrival, late first night due to checking into the hotel, unpacking, settling down, dinner with a friend, etc, missing the next morning's Indian film preview screening because it clashed head-on with the Curtain-Raiser Press Conference (PC), missing the next one while trying to get the badge made, going for the third film of the day, KUTTRAM KADITHAL-Tamil-director Bramma G-2014-122 min-Blu-Ray-Colour--and walking out 16-17 minutes into the screening, out of sheer diappointment at the content. Add to that poor sound. Learnt from a colleague that the other film, on Lokmaya Tilak, had DVD problems and was mediodre too. Felt rather sad that I could see only 16-17 minutes out of 6 full films screenings. That, in short, is what happened in the 24 hours since I reached Mumbai doemstic airport. Far from ideal start to what, I pray, will be a much more memorable period of 11 days, from now till the 30th.

Keni's Hotel has idiosyncratic staff, Raphael and Dilip Kumar. Famous names both. The room was okay, but the lift would not stop at the first floor. Ordinarily, it would be no issue, but when you arrive with luggage to last out 14 days, from the 18th till the 2nd of December. But they sent a man along to help. They don't accept credit cards, or even debit cards, and insist on daily advance payment. Two days paid. But where was Mohan Siroya, who suggested the hotel in the first place? He managed to get a room in his usual choice, Hotel Neptune Deluxe. Keni's is 15-minutes' walk from the festival centre, while Neptune Deluxe is 5 minutes away. I am tempted to shift, provided the management can find a room for me by Thursday afternoon.

Shankar Mohan, the Director of the Festival (in his last appearance in this capacity), Rajan Satardekar, CEO Entertainment Society of Goa (in his first appearance) and Ira Joshi (Director, Press Information Bureau, making her first visit to IFFI) addressed a press conference, which was long-winded and boring. A colleague asked for tea,  noticeable by its absence at all IFFI press conferences, and, surprise, surprise, tea came with potato vadas, a popular Indian snack, courtesy ESG.

The joke about my accreditation continued. Four emails were received as follows: Approved; Rejected; Under consideration; Approved. When shown these printouts, PIB staffs blamed a technical glitch. It took four hours to get the badge, but all's well that ends well. Or is it? Press kits were not given. Inquiries revealed that you would have to walk 500 metres to get the kit.
Incidentally, travelling on our flight was actor-director, the rotund Satish Kaushik. We learnt at the PC that he would conduct a workshop session on My Journey as Comedian in the Film Industry. 
Late into the evening of the 19th, Anurag Mishra (usually an Officer on Special Duty at IFFI) and Ira Joshi (cheerful official) introduced me to the new Director General of PIB, Frank Noronha. Seems nice chap.
Some concerns for tomorrow: Inaugural function is at an Indoor Stadium (first time), far from my hotel and the festival centre. The screening of the inaugural film will follow at the Kala Academy, closer to the centre. Cocktails and dinner follow, at Marriott Hotel, not too far from Kala Academy. No invitation has been received so far, for any of the above, and transporting thousands of delegates and media-persons is not likely to be a smooth exercise. Hope it is, though.
Ticketing has begun. Haven't booked any show yet. Fingers crossed about availability of seats, for the films I choose to watch. 

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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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