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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. 



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 extension of the city itself.

Once part of the Globus brands store, operated by the Rahejas, a prominent real estate family, it housed a cinema too. Some years ago, Globus moved out, and the store was taken over by trillionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Retail, as a franchise for the British brand, Marks and Spencer. (Mukesh also owns the Jio mobile voice data brand, that is a prefix to the name of this festival). While Reliance continues to operate the multi-storeyed store, the Globus cinema has been acquired SPI Cinemas, who will run it for a nine-year lease. The 259-seater single screen will now be called Le-Reve (the dream), and it will be state of art with 4K projection and Dolby Atmos. Earlier, the cinema was tipped to open at the auspicious Diwali festival time, at the end of the month. But then we heard it is one of the venues of the MFF, which begins on the 21st, after an exclusive opening ceremony on the 20th, where commoners are excluded.

I decided to take a look at the new, spruced up and souped up premises yesterday. To my utter surprise, nobody around knew anything about a film festival, or of MAMI. Yes, they said there was a cinema under construction, but it would take weeks to complete. As a concerned journalist, I conveyed this to the festival organisers and the PR lady. They told me I was just being difficult. Excuse me! I went there again today, to convince myself that what I had seen yesterday was not a mirage or virtual reality. Work was going on at great pace, but it still did not look as if the cinema would be ready in 45 hours. No signage, no decoration, nothing to indicate that a film festival is to be held here.

As I was clicking a picture of the exterior (the hall is upstairs, where I would not be allowed under any condition), a man called Pradeep moved towards me and showed concern at my act. He was on duty, to supervise part of the construction or to carry out some checks. When I told him I was a journalist, he called another, younger man, with rippling muscles and a body-builder physique. He introduced himself as Imran, and said he represented SPI Cinemas. He agreed that work was far from complete and that the BookMyShow team should have been there already, the day before, to make registrations and to issue accreditations to media, but was confident that they would be there the next day (20th).

I was not convinced that they would be able to complete the remaining work in less than two days, but he sure was. “You will not believe how much we managed to do in the last five days.” I live in Bandra, and would only be too happy if the auditorium is functional, come Friday morn. If the interiors, the air-conditioning, the toilets and the projection are done, that might just be possible. "We have named it Le Reve, and you will soon have a dream of an experience upstairs,” Imran added. Godspeed to him and his workers.

SPI Cinemas, Chennai's premier multiplex, popularly known as Sathyam Cinemas, is considered to be among the best in the country. It has five properties and 36 screens in Chennai, including Sathyam, Escape, Palazzo, S2 Theyagaraja, and S2 Perambur with a total of 8,342 seats. It operates another brand in Coimbatore, called The Cinema, which has 1,561 seats. By 2020, they would have more than 150 screens, mostly in the lucrative south market. Luxe Cinemas, which was opened in April 2014, was sold to Jazz Cinemas in October 2015.

On the exhibition front, Sathyam has been a household name in Chennai since 1974, and is the city's hottest entertainment destination. It was the first multiplex in India to have state-of-the-art digital screens. Apart from showcasing the latest blockbusters, it also houses Blur, the largest multi-format gaming facility in India, and the concept restaurants, ID and Ecstasy.

In 2009, SPI Cinemas announced its entry into feature film production, with the Tamil film, Thiru Thiru Thuru Thuru.

Founded 1974, Sathyam is headed by Kiran Reddy, who was the CEO, 1997-2011, and has been the Chairman, 2011-present.

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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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