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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 Goa 2015, Festival Diary V

IFFI Goa 2015, Festival Diary V

Continuing short reviews of films, seen at the 46th International Film Festival of India.

(See Festival Diary I, II, II and IV for more coverage)

Father (Babai): Germany/Kosovo/Republic of Macedonia: Visar Morina

Leaving the narrative open and blending real-time and flash-forward cost the otherwise praiseworthy film the wider appreciation it deserved. Just one seamless insertion had many viewers wondering what happened. Was it all a dream? Or was just that scene a dream? Son-father bonding has seldom been as brilliantly done as seen in Father. It has an Iranian films inspired subject, unpredictable storyline and terrific performances. ***1/2

Don’t Tell Me the Boy Was Mad: France: Robert Guediguian

Flatters to deceive. It begins with a politically motivated assassination, showcases the historical plight of Armenians massacred by their Turkish masters, a court case in France where the assassin is tried, and then meanders along with familiar and predictable events. Definitely not a film that can hold your attention for long, especially at an international film festival. **

Anwar Ka Ajeeb Kissa: India: Buddhadeb Dasgupta

Misleading synopsis can harm a film. The film is not about a detective who, after following other people, decides to follow himself. It is about a detective, though, and he does follow people. The ‘following himself’ is a voyage of self-discovery, as he goes back to his roots while still on the job. At times, you wonder whether Anwar exists at all. Nawazuddin Siddiqui glides through in the title-role of a born-Muslim, who drinks alcohol and even gets his pet dog addicted to rum. Slapstick and one-liner humour is merged with linear narrative and dream-like images, in typical Budhhadeb Dasgupta style. The allegories and commentary, on decadence and human values, is for all to see. Gets too indulgent, though. ***

Taj Mahal: France/Belgium: Nicolas Saada

The legendary Hotel in Mumbai, not the Wonder of the World monument in Agra. And the Mumbai terror attacks of this day, seven years ago: 26-11-2008. I was at IFFI then, as I am now. A French family, father-mother-daughter, relocates to Mumbai where the father is posted as an engineer. Their accommodation is not yet ready, so they spend a few days in the hotel. One day, when the parents go out, the daughter stays back, and that is the day when notorious Ajmal Kasab (the only terrorist captured alive; since tried and hanged in India) and gang target the hotel, and other places in the vicinity, killing by the dozen and setting of bombs. Apparently, almost the entire incident is re-enacted, from the point of view of the girl, and Saada has done a very good job. Except for a few moments of vacillation, the tale grips and keeps you engaged. ***

Kaili Blues: China: Gan Bi

A doctor in a remote clinic sets off on a journey to fulfill his dead mother’s wish, and the journey becomes a very realistic yet surreal experience. There is a property matter between him and his brother. Along the way, he comes to a village where past, present and future seem to co-exist, and attends a music concert. Scenes span the picturesque countryside, train travel and motor-cycle trips. One of those films that try your patience a bit and make your mind work a little harder than usual, to put together the pieces. But some will still find value in the exercise. **1/2


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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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