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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. 



Man with the Binoculars makes it to Tallinn & MAMI


by Siraj Syed

Assam-born Rima Das’s first feature, Man with the Binoculars, which was screened at Cannes in the Marche (Market) du Film section on May 18, finds its place in the programmes of two prestigious festivals in successive months. First, it is the Jio MAMI Mumbai International Film Festival with STAR, which starts this week, and then it will be part of Tallinn’s Black Nights 20th year.

The Man with the Binoculars is Rima Das' tender and poignant slice-of-life debut film about love, desire, responsibilities, struggles, differences, loneliness, coming-of-age, introspection, realisations and the inner conflicts and angst of the chief protagonist. The film is the story of Chaudhury, a retired geography teacher from a small village in Assam, whose life starts turning upside down when his son, a musician by profession, who has come for a visit, gifts him a pair of binoculars.


Rima says about the film, “Coming from a remote village in Assam (Northeast India) and growing up before satellite TV, I knew nothing of World Cinema. In Mumbai to explore my talents as an actor, I got exposed to the larger film universe. My interest veered towards film-making. A short film I made in 2009, Pratha, was officially selected at the Chicago short film festival, and this boosted my morale. One day at a friend's place, a binocular fascinated me. That his father living in a village previously owned it intrigued me further. Back in my village, an idea took seed and I began writing The Man with the Binoculars (Antardrishti).

To me, the binocular is a metaphor for the bitter reality of human loneliness, struggles, regrets, differences, our constant desire to control others and our surroundings, and our lack of perspective where small things perceived through the binocular of our consciousness makes it excessively large while we ignore the big right in front of us. Chaudhury, addicted to his binoculars, like most of us, laments the many boats he has missed in life, even as things around him break apart. Armed with a binocular, peering into nature, he struggles to bring his past into perspective even as the present of the poetic landscape around him watches him with impassioned eyes.

With little money, a tiny team, and crew and actors, the three years it has taken to make this film seem like an interesting and not easy journey. But then I remind myself that often that is what life is sometimes made of - fragments of an impossible reality.”

Director, producer, screen-writer Rima Das commutes between Mumbai and Assam. The Man with the Binoculars is her first feature film. Village Rock-stars, her second feature film, is in post-production stage.​

101 minutes in duration, The Man with the Binoculars is produced, written and directed by Rima Das. Bishnu Kharghariya plays the title role, supported by Jumi Das. Sound design is by Amrit Pritam, who recently won the coveted Golden Reel Award. Director of photography is Ratnajit Roy, and the editor is Suresh Pai. Colourist Sid Meer and music composer Anurag Saikia round off the credits. The Man with the Binoculars is co-produced by Jaya Das.


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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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