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Siraj Syed


Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for FilmFestivals.com 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. 

 

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Jhalki, Review: Stop stealing childhood from children

Jhalki, Review: Stop stealing childhood from children After much-raved biopics on Rahul Dev Burman and Jagjit Singh, director Brahmanand S. Siingh trains his lens on an issue that is based on true incidents and is a burning topic for Indian society at large. It brought Kailash Satyarthi the Nobel Peace Prize, and he is both depicted as well as present in the film. How many film-makers can make any such claim? The subject is child-trafficking, and employing little children in carpet factories,...

IFFI 50: Dying 3 year-old war victim’s last words, “I’m Gonna Tell God Everything”

IFFI 50: Dying 3 year-old war victim’s last words, “I’m Gonna Tell God Everything” One of the most important and persistent crises that we face today is the crisis of war, displaced persons and immigration. The Syrian immigrant crisis has found cinematic voice through master film-makers over the last few years, as an acknowledgement to this ongoing crisis. The film, I’m Gonna Tell God Everything, borrows its title from the last words of a 3 year-old Syrian boy...

IFFI 50: Homage to Bernardo Bertolucci

IFFI 50: Homage to Bernardo Bertolucci Bertolucci, who was born in 1941, passed away at last year at the age of 77. He has been acclaimed for two of his most important films--Last Tango in Paris and The Last Emperor. The former was embroiled in controversy for its explicit sexual content but also won a nomination for Marlon Brando at the Academy Awards, while the latter film, which was an adaptation of the autobiography of China’s last imperial ruler, Pu Yi, won 9 Oscars. Bertolucci bec...

IFFI 50: British film-maker Ken Loach to have a Retrospective at IFFI 2019

IFFI 50: British film-maker Ken Loach to have a Retrospective at IFFI 2019 Two times Palme d’Or winner Ken Loach is widely acclaimed across international cinema as an independent film-maker and documentarian. He is known for his socialist ideals, which reflect in his movies, movies which mostly deal with British life and some modern issues, like industrial and technological developments. From issues like urban poverty in Poor Cow, labour rights in Riff-Raff and The Navigators, state ...

IFFI 50: Russia to be Country of Focus, with seven films

IFFI 50: Russia to be Country of Focus, with seven films Every year, IFFI features a Country of Focus that brings out the cinematic excellence and contributions of that particular country. In its 50th edition of the festival, IFFI 2019, the Country of Focus is Russia. This section will showcase seven movies from the country. One of the movies featured is the film Andrei Tarkovsky: A Cinema Prayer, a documentary that recounts Tarkovsky’s life and work, letting the director tell the stor...

Prithvi Festival 2019: Bone of Contention is a motor-mouth hysterical farce, as the crow flies

Prithvi Festival 2019: Bone of Contention is a motor-mouth hysterical farce, as the crow flies A comedy is what you would automatically expect from a theatre group that calls itself FATS theARTS, and a comedy it is. A farce to be precise. A nod to Molière, the full name of the play seen on 09 November at Prithvi Theatre was Bone of Contention in Cosmopolitan Co-Operative Housing Society. That’s quite a mouthful, and every character in the play had a mouthful to offer, over the 90...

Bala, Review: Haireditory and dark humour

Bala, Review: Haireditory and dark humour Two films in rapid succession about hair loss are about as rare as a new lock of hair sprouting on a bald pate. Whereas Ujda Chaman had the relatively unknown Sunny Singh Nijjar and Maanvi Gagroo playing the lead roles, Bala has National Award winning (shared) actor Ayushmann Khurrana, and by now well established actresses Bhumi Pednekar and Yami Gautam. Time has come when insider jokes, vulgar dialogue, mimicry and stand-up comedy are expected from K...

Midway, Review: Exactly

Midway, Review: Exactly When you make a war movie, based on facts, you might be motivated to give a slightly balanced view of events, for every country that goes to war has its reasons and its heroes. Your sympathies might lie with the nation where the film is produced, yet, unless your motive is jingoism and ultra-nationalism, you will give some weightage to the enemy’s point of view. Also, a faithful recreation means detailing and realistic characterisation, which when juxtaposed agai...

Prithvi Festival 2019, Review—Ek Natak Aisa Bhi: Beggars can be choosers

Prithvi Festival 2019, Review—Ek Natak Aisa Bhi: Beggars can be choosers Begging is an art, as has been repeatedly proven by reports of fortunes being discovered after the death of certain beggars and the numerous jokes about begging. In Ek Natak Aisa Bhi (A Play of This Type), by Rangshila Theatre Group, the author chronicles the adventures and mishaps that occur in the lives of two professional beggars, who work in tandem. Largely a string of jokes, many derived from films and film-st...

Prithvi Festival 2019: Untitled 1, Review--Poison, its forms, uses and doses

Prithvi Festival 2019: Untitled 1, Review--Poison, its forms, uses and doses As a Big Brother is Watching state, the concept was explored by George Orwell in 1948. He called it ‘1984’, by merely reversing the last two digits of the year he wrote the book in, and placing it 36 years into the future. Playwright Annie Zaidi sets Untitled1 in the present, or the very near future, with the same concept: An authoritarian state that wants to control what people say, hear, watch, write, r...

Hellaro, Review: Say Hello to Hellaro

by Siraj Syed Curiosity about the film has been rather high, considering it won the Best Feature Film at the National Film Awards, being the first Gujarati language film ever to bag the honour, with a Special Jury prize for its 13 female actors to boot. Hellaro (The Outburst) is to be the opening film of the Indian Panorama Section at the 50th International Film Festival of India, Goa, and an official entry in the Best Debut director category. There is little doubt that it is one of the best ...

Last Christmas, Review: Rom-com gone tragi-com

Last Christmas, Review: Rom-com gone tragi-com A film that is titled Last Christmas could work its title two ways, either as the last Christmas of someone who is not going to see another one, or as referring to something that happened at last year’s Christmas. Since it chooses the latter path, you presume it will be a film full of happy memories of the lead actors. Sadly, there is very little that is happy about Last Christmas. For all it is worth, the title might have had the former co...

Prithvi Festival 2019: Slippery Phislan and murderous Haye…Maar Dala Re

Prithvi Festival 2019: Slippery Phislan and murderous Haye…Maar Dala Re Started by the family of his youngest son, Shashi Kapoor, in memory of Papaji Prithviraj Kapoor, in 1978, Prithvi Theatre, built in the amphi-theatre style in upmarket Juhu, opened its doors to theatre groups and drama-lovers in 1978. First, its moving spirit was Jennifer Kendal, Shashi’s wife, and daughter of a theatre doyen, Geoffrey Kendal. When she had an untimely death, her daughter Sanjana took over the...

Prithvi Festival: Piyush Mishra’s Gagan Damama Bajyo, rivetting study of the life and times of Bhagat Singh, sets the tone

Prithvi Festival: Piyush Mishra’s Gagan Damama Bajyo, rivetting study of the life and times of Bhagat Singh, sets the tone Besides Mohandas Karamchand ‘Mahatma’ Gandhi, two other freedom fighters are often cited as heroes of the Indian freedom struggle against its colonial British masters: ‘Netaji’ Subhashchandra Bose and ‘Shaheed’ Bhagat Singh. Bose went abroad, formed the Indian National Army (INA/Azad Hind Fauj) and waged armed battles against the ...

IFFI 50, XII: Rajinikanth to be Icon of Golden Jubilee

IFFI 50, XII: Rajinikanth to be Icon of Golden Jubilee Union (Central Government) Information & Broadcasting Minister, Prakash Javadekar, announced on November 02 that, “In recognition of his outstanding contribution to Indian cinema, during the past several decades, I am happy to announce that the award for the ‘Icon of the Golden Jubilee of IFFI 2019’ is being conferred on cine-star Shri. S. RajiniKanth”, said Javadekar. Carpenter-turned-porter-turned-bus conduc...

IFFI 50, XI: Kashmiri film Nooreh to open non-feature Indian Panorama

IFFI 50, XI: Kashmiri film Nooreh to open non-feature Indian Panorama The 50th International Film Festival of India, 2019 will witness over 200 best films  from 76 countries, 26 feature films and 15 non-feature films in Indian panorama section and around 10,000 delegates and film-lovers are expected to participate in the golden jubilee edition. Indian Panorama is a flagship section of IFFI, which showcases the best of contemporary Indian Feature and Non-Feature Films of the years. This ...

IFFI 50, X: International Jury for IFFI 2019 has Bailey, Campillo, Yang, Ramsay and Sippy

IFFI 50, X: International Jury for IFFI 2019 has Bailey, Campillo, Yang, Ramsay and Sippy John Bailey, Cinematographer and Ex-President of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (the body that awards the Oscars) will chair the International Jury of 50th International Film Festival of India (IFFI). French film-maker Robin Campillo, who was also a member of the Cannes International Jury 2019, renowned Chinese film-maker Zhang Yang and Ms. Lynne Ramsay, who is one of the leading lights...

IFFI 50, IX: 13 International films and 2 Indian films in the competition at IFFI 2019

IFFI 50, IX: 13 International films and 2 Indian films in the competition at IFFI 2019 Each year, the coveted ‘Golden Peacock’ prize is given to one movie in the International Competition Section. It carries a cash prize of Rs. 40 lakhs (4 million), to be shared equally between the Producer and the Director, a Trophy and a citation. This year, the International Competition consists of 15 movies, produced and/or co-produced by 22 countries. Two entries are from India. Here is the...

IFFI 50, VIII: Debut Film Competition entries announced

IFFI 50, VIII: Debut Film Competition entries announced The 50th International Film Festival of India announced the seven films in Debut Competition section of the festival. The festival, which has been a launch pad to several film-makers over the past 66 years, aims at bringing forth the best first time film-makers of the year in this section. Algerian film Abou Leila, directed by Amin Sidi-Boumedine, Korean film Romang, by LEE Chang-geun, Romanian film Monsters, by Mar...

IFFI 50, VII: Isabelle Huppert to get Lifetime Achievement Award; 50 women’s films to be screened

IFFI 50,VII: Isabelle Huppert to get Lifetime Achievement Award; 50 women’s films to be screened One of the most famous and most popular French actresses of her generation, Isabelle Anne Madeleine Huppert will be conferred with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Golden Jubilee edition of International Film Festival of India (IFFI), Panaji, Goa, 2019. This was announced by Union Minister for Information & Broadcasting, Shri Prakash Javadekar, in New Delhi yesterday. The Union Mi...

IFFI 50, VI: Soul of Asia Retrospective of seven landmark movies

IFFI 50, VI: Soul of Asia Retrospective of seven landmark movies IFFI 2019, in its 50th edition, will be presenting a specially curated section which consists of some of the new and dynamic films that have made their mark, from across various Asian countries, and have been directed by Asian film-makers. With this spirit in mind, it has been named, Soul of Asia. Films to be showcased in this section are: Feelings to Tell, by Wen LI Summer is the Coldest Season, by Sun Zhou The Fourth Wal...

IFFI 50, V: Kaleidoscope selection of 20 films announced today

IFFI 50, V: Kaleidoscope selection of 20 films announced today 50th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) today announced the list of films to be screened in Festival Kaleidoscope, one of the most important sections of the festival. Festival Kaleidoscope section of 50th IFFI brings under one umbrella exotic films from around the world for film aficionados, who will flock to the festival at Panaji, Goa, in just under three weeks’ time. The section showcases 20 films, hand-picked a...

IFFI 50, IV: 17 films in specially curated Master Frames section

IFFI 50, IV: 17 films in specially curated Master Frames section 2019 marks the 50th year of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI). The 50th International Film Festival of India, 2019, will witness over 200 selected films from 76 countries, 26 feature films and 15 non feature films in Indian panorama section, and more than 10,000 people and film lovers are expected to participate in the golden jubilee edition. On the occasion, a special section has been curated, called Master Frame...

The Current War, Review: DC Edison v/s AC Westinghouse

The Current War, Review: DC Edison v/s AC Westinghouse Unless you do some background reading, this review included, you will not guess that the film is not about a conventional war but about the rivalry between Thomas Alva Edison, credited with inventing Direct Current operated incandescent bulbs, and their Alternating Current based, dynamo-run variants, developed by George Westinghouse, back in the 1880s. It’s a double-barrelled bio-pic that spouts too much jargon and is not saved by f...

Terminator-Dark Fate, Review: Terminal stillness

Terminator-Dark Fate, Review: Terminal stillness With a title like Dark Fate, they have already let the cat out of the bag. It is bound to end in one or more of its heroes/heroines dying, meeting their dark fate. That being a given, Terminator: Dark Fate provides some impressive action and unending shape-shifts/split bodies to keep you entertained, saving the best for the last. It is a long last, and it lasts really long. Three years after defeating the T-1000 and averting the rise of the ma...

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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 FilmFestivals.com 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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