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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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Shukranu-Hui Emotion ki Nasbandi, Review: Tale of forced sterilisations lacks potency

Shukranu-Hui Emotion ki Nasbandi, Review: Tale of forced sterilisations lacks potency In modern Indian history, the Internal Emergency, proclaimed in 1975 and in place for about two years, is regarded as a highly controversial phase. During this period, buses and trains ran on time, attendance in government establishments increased astronomically, corruption was all but eliminated and prices of a host of essential commodities were controlled. But all this was accompanied by curbs on freedom o...

Fantasy Island, Review: Risks submersion

Fantasy Island, Review: Risks submersion Inspired is equal measure by two incompatible sources as divergent as Agatha Christie and the U.S.S.R. film Solaris, Fantasy Island plays deep desires against harsh realities in an implausible tale that is part vendetta, part science fiction and part psychic phenomena. There are too many back-stories and unexplained events, as a result of which the movie gets bogged down. In the end, you will make sense of it only if you stop analysing or questioning t...

Love Aaj Kal 2020, Review: 141 minutes of messy, moronic, melodramatic mishmash

Love Aaj Kal 2020, Review: 141 minutes of messy, moronic, melodramatic mishmash What do you do when that elusive commodity called plot decides to stay clear of your net? You dig into your archives and find a film that you think lends itself to building a sequel. You also pay a visit to the Hollywood classic which helped you spawn another set of two films, the first a charmer, the second that should have been much warmer. And so, from the stable that gave us Jab We Met, Love Aaj Kal 2009 and J...

MIFF 2020: “There is no wishing the digital revolution away”

MIFF 2020: “There is no wishing the digital revolution away” IDPA held its sixth and final Open Forum, a regular fixture at every MIFF, on the lawns of the FD Complex, on Sunday, 02 February. An eminent panel of speakers put forth their thoughts and ideas on the subject, ‘Digital Revolution: Is it helping film-makers?’ They comprised Amit Tyagi, Associate Director, MIT-ADT University, Pune, and former Dean of FTII, Balkrishna Diwakar, Former Professor, Jamia Millia, Cy...

MIFF 2020: The torch-bearers of Indian animation

MIFF 2020: The torch-bearers of Indian animation A protégé of the legendary animator Ram Mohan, who passed away recently, Chetan Sharma has curated an exhibition as an homage to his Guru, and two other of his Guru’s contemporary masters, who also left for their heavenly within short spans of each other. The exhibition, titled The Torch-bearers of Indian Animation, which is dedicated to V.G. Samant and BhimSain too, is located in the basement of the NMIC building. &ldquo...

MIFF 2020, Open Forum 4: “Films that don’t obey trends are experimental”—Michael Dudok de Wit

MIFF 2020, Open Forum 4: “Films that don’t obey trends are experimental”—Michael Dudok de Wit On Saturday, 01 February, IDPA’s Open Forum moved on to Animation, dealing with Experimental Animation and its Impact on Mainstream. A cross-section of animation talent formed the panel, local and international, professional and student, beginners and Oscar winners. The session was moderated by IDPA member Ms. Dhvani Desai, a science+management double graduate and an awa...

MIFF 2020: “Why can’t we appreciate off-camera sounds?”—B. Lenin

MIFF 2020: “Why can’t we appreciate off-camera sounds?”—B. Lenin Son of legendary director-editor A. Bhimsingh, B. Lenin started his editing career at the age of 18, in 1965. But guess what he wanted to become as a young boy? A projectionist! Why? Read on. “I am one of eight siblings and saw very little of my father as a child, because he used to work around twenty hours a day. When he came home, sometimes at 4 am, I would ask my mother who this man was. We ch...

MIFF 2020, Open Forum 3: “Crowd-funding comes from your own sources”

MIFF 2020, Open Forum 3: “Crowd-funding comes from your own sources” For its third Open Forum, Indian Documentary Producers’ Association (IDPA) chose a topic that captured the fancy of several veteran and newbie documentary-makers, ‘Crowd Funding’. A four-member panel presented their thoughts, views and experiences, while Aditya Seth (Vice-President, IDPA) moderated. Panelists comprised cinematographer-director Priyanka Singh, Wishberry partner Anshulika Dubey, d...

Shikara-- The Untold Story of Kashmiri Pandits, Review: Paradise lost

Shikara-- The Untold Story of Kashmiri Pandits, Review: Paradise lost A hot potato by any yard-stick, the plight of Kashmir Pandits, who were forced to leave the strife-torn land of Kashmir to live in Jammu or other parts of India, was always going to pose a challenge to film. Vidhu Vinod Chopra, a Kashmiri himself, is among the Hindi film industry’s most renowned film-makers. He bases the narrative of Shikara on true stories, but fictionalises it enough to meet the demands of the mediu...

Malang, Review: Why knot when you cannot unknot?

Malang, Review: Why knot when you cannot unknot? Six cops, a serial cop killer, a wandering maiden, a Swedish female drug peddler and a sexually starved wife form the core dramatis personae of Malang, a crime-vendetta-whodunit tale that comes with a misleading title. Malang can mean many things, all of them associated with detached, saintly, carefree, Sufi and seer type individuals, often seen as wandering minstrels. You will have to test the elasticity of your imagination in order to co-rela...

RIFF 2020: Winners all

RIFF 2020: Winners all Below is the complete list of award-winners at the 6th Rajasthan International Film Festival (RIFF), Jaipur, January 18-22, 2020. The distribution ceremony was held at the Jawahar Kala Kendra. It was announced at the end of the awards function that the 7th RIFF will be not be held in Jaipur, but in another city of Rajasthan. Sources confirm that this was being done to avoid clashing with the other film festival, which is held parallel to RIFF, the Jaipur International F...

MIFF 2020: A lost homeland land and a new home

MIFF 2020: A lost homeland land and a new home Eight years and eighty lakhs is what it took USA-based music-video maker Sapna Bhavnani to make Sindhustan, 64-minute a labour of love, about the largest migration in history, that of Hindu Sindhis from Sind, now in Pakistan, to present day India. By contrast, Atanu Mukherjee’s 26-minute tale of a migrant single woman from Jabalpur who wants to settle in Mumbai, and her encounters with a transgender person, titled Wig, took just three days ...

MIFF 2020, Open Forum 2: “Viewers are willing to pay for docu content”

MIFF 2020, Open Forum 2: “Viewers are willing to pay for docu content” Documentaries rarely provide investment returns, let alone earning profits. But that is about to change, or has it changed already? This was discussed on Day 2 of the Open Forum, organised by the Indian Documentary Producers’ Association (IDPA), under the topic, ‘Generating Avenues and Creating Revenues.’ Moderated by Ravi Iyer (Executive Committee Member, IDPA), the panel consisted of Manika ...

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. R...

Kaanchli—Life in a Slough, Review: Slough and unsteady loses the race

Kaanchli—Life in a Slough, Review: Slough and unsteady loses the race Probably the only thing going for Kaanchli is the fact that it is based on a Vijaydan ‘Bijji’ Detha story. Detha inspired the films Duvidha (directed by Mani Kaul), which was remade as Paheli (Amol Palekar), Charandas Chor (Habeeb Tanveer), Lajwanti (Pushpendra Singh) and Parinati (Prakash Jha). The much decorated author died in 2013, after writing some 800 short stories, all in Rajasthani, often translate...

MIFF 2020, Open Forum, Day 1: Single window clearance needed

MIFF 2020, Open Forum, Day 1: Single window clearance needed On the first day of the Open Forum, conducted by the Indian Documentary Producers’ Association (IDPA), at MIFF 2020, the topic was ‘Problems Faced by Film-makers While Shooting in India: What are the solutions?’ IDPA was represented by President Usha Deshpande, Vice-President Aditya Seth (moderator), Suresh Sharma (Executive Committee Member and panelist) and Sanskar Desai (Secretary). Others on the panel were US-...

MIFF 2020: Meet V. Shantaram Lifetime awardee Dr. S. Krishnaswamy

MIFF 2020: Meet V. Shantaram Lifetime awardee Dr. S. Krishnaswamy Honoured with the Dr. V. Shantaram Award for Lifetime Achievement, during the inaugural ceremony of MIFF 2020, at Nehru Centre, on January 28, S. Krishnaswamy spoke to filmfestivals.com, shortly afterwards, at the Films Division Complex. It was a nostalgic moment for Dr. S. Krishnaswamy. Had fate willed otherwise, he would have joined Films Division (FD) during the tenure of Chief Producer K.L. Khandpur (1962-68) and served in...

16th MIFF: A doc, a short and an animation film set the ball rolling

16th MIFF: A doc, a short and an animation film set the ball rolling Three films were screened at the inaugural ceremony of the 16th Mumbai International Film Festival, MIFF 2020, on 28th January, 2020, at the Nehru Centre, Worli, Mumbai. Since the festival screens documentaries, short fiction films and animation films, it was quite apt that one representative film from each genre was showcased last evening. Regular screenings began on 29th January. Rhyme and Rhythm of Loom (from the Special...

RIFF 2020, VIII: Ratings of films seen at the 6th Rajasthan International Film Festival, Jaipur, 18-23 January

RIFF 2020, VIII: Ratings of films seen at the 6th Rajasthan International Film Festival, Jaipur, 18-23 January Film Country Category Director Rating Midnight Delhi, India, Short, Rakesh Rawat: ** ½ Mooso, India, Feature, Deepankar Prakash: *** ½ Lihaaf, India, Feature, Rahat Kazmi: *** Oxygen, India, Feature,Shoib Nikash Shah: ** ½ Six-6 (Chhe), India, Short, DilipV. Sood: ** Mai Ghat: Crime No. 103/2005, India, Feature, Ananth Naraya...

RIFF, 7: Films, Knowledge Series and Open Forum

RIFF, 7: Films, Knowledge Series and Open Forum At the inaugural function of the Sixth Rajasthan International Film Festival (RIFF), on 18th January, 2020, at the Open-Air Jawahar Kala Kendra, the following films were screened: My Turn (Korea), Kalamkhush, #Jaipuractivists and Dhanak (all from India). Regular screenings and other sessions commenced at Cinépolis, Jaipur, on the second day, the 19th of January, 2020. Films screened during the morning session were Chitthiyan, Pearl-A Girl...

Jai Mummy Di, Review: Absence of substance

Jai Mummy Di, Review: Absence of substance Two middle-aged women hate each other for reasons unknown to their spouses and their children. One of them as two sons and the other has a daughter. In a modern day, pretentious comic re-working of Romeo and Juliet, the elder son of one of them and the daughter of the other are madly in love with each other, a fact that they have kept secret from their parents. Jai Mummy Di is for audiences who find this premise and its manifestations really funny, a...

1917, Review: One shot wonder, real-time revolution

1917, Review: One shot wonder, real-time revolution War films can be about nations and nationalism, or soldiers and their sagas. While the former promote jingoism, the latter tend to be anti-war, by personalising the narrative and addressing personal trauma of the protagonists, while universalising their sentiments. 1917 belongs to the second category. It is a technical marvel, but never wavers from the plight of its main characters. All the awards and encomiums it has garnered, raising expec...

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Review: A rewarding day at the movies

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Review: A rewarding day at the movies Films inspired by true stories can offer refreshingly different cinematic treatment and there is no substitute for good casting; A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood scores on both parameters. What prevents it from getting into the outstanding league is a certain amount of cynicism with which the average cine-goer looks at movies about modern-day saints, especially if they happen to host their own TV shows. Inspired by...

RIFF 2020: Second and final list of films released

RIFF 2020: Second and final list of films released Jaipur: 13 January 2020: The 6th edition of Rajasthan International Film Festival (RIFF) will be organised by RIFF Film Club from Saturday, 18 January, to Wednesday, 22 January, 2020 at Jawahar Kala Kendra and Cinépolis, World Trade Park, JLN Marg, Jaipur, on the theme of 5 Years of RIFF & 150 Years of Mahatma Gandhi. The second list of films to be screened during the festival has been released, which includes the short film Wave,...

Dolittle, Review: Only a veterinarian can save the Queen

Dolittle, Review: Only a veterinarian can save the Queen Imagine a veterinarian doctor who can understand animal language and talk to any member of the animal, bird and fish kingdom. When translated to cinema, as in Dolittle, this story creates a dramatic premise where his unique ability would prove crucial in an effort to save the dying Queen of England, no less. It’s as preposterous a premise as the basic platform itself, but, nevertheless, adds to the cuteness value of the whole exer...

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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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