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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. 



MIFF 2020, Twin Press Conferences: Son Rise and Shevanti

MIFF 2020, Twin Press Conferences: Son Rise and Shevanti

Two film units held a joint press conference at MIFF on the 29th of January, representing the films Son Rise and Shevanti. Both films were the first two to be screened earlier in the National Competition Section.

Vibha Bakshi, director of Son Rise, described her film as dealing with social empowerment and about ordinary men doing extraordinary things. It is dedicated to the incredible people of Haryana and is not about men v/s women. Rather, she emphasised, it is about equality and sab ki jeet (victory for all). “The next wave of films will see men, not women, as protagonists,” she predicted. For six months, nobody agreed to be part of her film. It was only after she had spent two years in Haryana that the locals opened up about their gender-related issues. And once the film was made, the biggest khap (de facto, informal, village council) leader went about showing the film to everybody.

“Documentaries are about craft and commitment, and I have been lucky to have Hemanti Sarkar as my editor on both my films, Daughters of Mother India and Son Rise. She took eight months to edit Son Rise.” The film deals with the predicament of a farmer who is about to be married and discovers that his wife-to-be has been the victim of a gang-rape. “He declares that he will not only accept her, but fight for her,” she shared. On gender issues, she averred, “Let’s not talk to men at 50, but to boys at 15.”

Chandrakant Gokhale, Sonal Tupe (Press Information Bureau), Vibha Bakshi, Nilesh Kunjir and Milind Ingle

Shevanti is a nine-minute film with no dialogue, only voice-overs and music. It is directed by Nilesh Kunjir, who was present, along with the man who wrote the film, Chandrashekhar Gokhale, and artiste Dipti Devi. Kunjir has been making films for the last ten years and had been hoping to land a film in MIFF, for the last five years. At last, his dream was realised. This was the first major screening of Shevanti, which is about relationships, he revealed. “Women are more capable of managing several fronts, as they manage a job, their home and a husband, usually quite well,” opined Kunjir and Gokhale.

It was Gokhale’s short story that went viral and caught the attention of Kunjir. Composer Milind Ingle, who was assisted in the music by his son, took pains to see that the music and the narration jelled together. “Since the narration was recorded after the film was completed, it made my job a little easier,” confessed Milind. Nilesh said that the film is currently doing the festival circuit and he will consider putting it on the Over-The-Top (OTT) platform, once it has done the rounds. Dipti Devi was not in a receptive mood when she was called by Nilesh for the role, “But when I heard the part narration he sent in the voice of GokhaleSaaheb, I was immediately convinced that this was a great role.”

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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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