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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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Ardh Satya: Govind Nihalani revisits the time of half-truth

Ardh Satya: Govind Nihalani revisits the time of half-truth Many things were happening in Indian cinema during the early 1980s. The National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) was financing and producing/co-producing unconventional, art-house, parallel cinema films, but also the rip roaring comedy Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro and the blockbuster, Gandhi. A theatre like Prithvi, set-up by the husband and wife duo of Shashi and Jennifer Kapoor in Mumbai, was becoming the hub of all drama activity, and p...

Wonder Park, Review: Who said it can’t be done?

Wonder Park, Review: Who said it can’t be done? Released in the USA with a PG certificate, Wonder Park is about an imaginary amusement park created by the imagination of a 10-year old girl and her mother.  It tweaks logic and science to create fantastical rides and talking animals, making conventional amusement parks look like child’s play. It’s good holiday viewing for the 5-12 age-group, with a riot of colours and exciting thrills, causing adrenaline rushes, with the ...

22 Yards, Review: Short of a length

22 Yards, Review: Short of a length When you pitch for a film on cricket (pun intended), you better go the whole 22 yards. In cricket, the length of the pitch, from stumps at one end to stumps at the other, is all of 22 yards. That is where the main action of the game takes place. So, with a giveaway title like 22 Yards, you can expect nothing but a film on cricket. Now let me state here, for the benefit of readers from countries that do not play cricket that in India, religion, cinema and cr...

Photograph, Review: Ode dear

Photograph, Review: Ode dear If only vignettes and mosaics could add up to a good script, Photograph would look refreshingly different. If improvised dialogue and incomplete scenes could substitute for a coherent narrative, Photograph would find its place in the album of memorable cinema. Forlornly, though, Ritesh Batra’s Photograph unpeels itself like the layers of an onion, offering emptiness at the end of the exercise, instead of discovery and resonance. Arriving with a sumptuous tr...

Captain Marvel, Review: Skrull duggery, the Kreeps, a charismatic cat and muddled memories

Captain Marvel, Review: Skrull duggery, the Kreeps, a charismatic cat and muddled memories To many Indians, who grew up reading DC comics in the 50s, 60s and 70s, Captain Marvel is a man, and he acquires super-powers upon uttering the magical acronym, SHAZAM: genius of Solomon, strength of Hercules, unbreakable will of Atlas, lightning blasts of Zeus, power of Achilles and speed of Mercury. Named Billy Batson as a human, Captain Marvel’s powers comprised super strength, flight, invulner...

11th Bengaluru International Film Festival award winners

11th Bengaluru International Film Festival award winners Sivaranjiniyum Innum Sila Pengalum, an anthology of Tamil stories, directed by Vasanth Sai, was chosen the Best Film in the Asian category of the 11th BIFFes, held in Bengaluru, during February 21-28. Sivaranjiniyum is based on women-centric short stories by Ashokmitran, Adhavan and Jeymohan. Ghode Ko Jalebi Khilane Le Ja Riya Hoon (Hindi), produced and directed by Anamika Haksar, bagged two awards--FIPRESCI- International Critic...

Ghode Ko Jalebi Khilane Le Ja Riya Hoon, Review: Escapist dreamscapes

Ghode Ko Jalebi Khilane Le Ja Riya Hoon, Review: Escapist dreamscapes When translated, the title becomes Taking the Horse to Eat Jalebis, jalebi being an Indian sweet preparation. This is one of the longest film titles in recent times, in the tradition of yesteryear movies like Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) and Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feelin' So Sad (1967). Ghode Ko Jalebi Khilane Le Ja Riya Hoon (GKJK...

Aakhri Shama completes 50 years; film actor Kanwaljit Singh plays Ghalib

Aakhri Shama completes 50 years; film actor Kanwaljit Singh plays Ghalib Nostalgia that tugged at the very core of your heart surfaced on 16 February 2019 at the Rang Sharda auditorium, where I witnessed a show of the play Aakhri Shama (Last Candle), staged by the Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA)’s Mumbai unit. With this show, the play completed a mind-boggling 50 years, having been first staged at the Red Fort, Delhi’s Deevaan-e-Aam (public hall), in 1969. That wa...

The Wife, Review: The Bitter Half

The Wife, Review: The Bitter Half It is easy to get swayed emotionally and empathise with the apparent underdog in this simple tale of a complex relationship. Only when you distance yourself, get down to analysing the issues and assessing the narrative, do you realise that the film did not have too much to say, and that the vulnerabilities of the characters cover a convenient screenplay. Performances, undeniably, are above par, and the film may also be seen for its intensity, focus and ably m...

15 February extended date for Chalachitram filmfest

15 February extended date for Chalachitram filmfest Entries to the Guwahati Film Festival and Heritage Short film Competition will now be accepted till February15. Earlier, the last date was February 10. According to the Festival Director, Utpal Datta, the festival now has a common name, the Chalachitram National Film Festival for Short, Documentary and Animation films. The festival will be held on March 1, 2 and 3, at Guwahati, Assam, North-East India. The following prizes are on offer: *I...

Cold Pursuit, Review: Too much cold, too many pursuits

Cold Pursuit, Review: Too much cold, too many pursuits Stylised rendition and slick editing almost save this drug cartels and trail of corpses tale, but only almost. By the time you have attended the countless funerals and shoveled tons of snow, you come out of the cinema as cold as the weather. As the numbness wears out, you realise you have watched just another revenge drama, albeit with a refreshing new take. Nels Coxman's quiet life as a snow-plow driver (clearing roads after snowfal...

Diorama, New Delhi, January 2019: Films screened and their ratings

Diorama, New Delhi, January 2019: Films screened and their ratings In cold New Delhi, the iconic Siri Fort was the venue for the first ever Diorama International Film Festival. What was once a single screen venue has burgeoned into a four screen complex, with the largest of them, Auditorium 1, able to accommodate approximately 2,000 persons.  Audi 1 was sparingly used, and rightly so, because audiences were thin, to say the least. Of the other three, Auditorium 4 was largely used as the ...

RIFF films, seen and unseen

RIFF films, seen and unseen Arriving at Jaipur on the 20th afternoon, I plunged into the 5th Rajasthan International Film Festival (RIFF) fare at the INOX multiplex, Crystal Palm, minutes after checking in at my hotel. Unfortunately, I had missed a whole day and a half, since the festival began on the 19th and screenings commenced in the morning itself, after the inauguration ceremony. These were the films shown on the first day, and some of them bagged awards too, as you must have read in m...

Sarvam Thalam Mayam (Omnipresence of Rhythm) is inconsistent but watchable

Sarvam Thalam Mayam (Omnipresence of Rhythm) is inconsistent but watchable Music is the theme of this Tamil film, which is being released with English sub-titles. Once you have chosen music as your subject, endless possibilities exist: Indian, Western, classical, Carnatic, Hindustani, instrumental, pop, rhythm-percussion, strings, wood, brass, and more. Writer -director Rajiv Menon zeroes in on the Guru-Shishya parampara (teacher-student tradition) as the core, and then weaves a story around ...

The Perfect Murder: Howdoit, not whodunit

The Perfect Murder: Howdoit, not whodunit Promising short film-maker Vikkramm Chandirramani’s Perfect Murder has no murder and, as it turns out, the planned murder-to-be is far from ‘perfect’. An urban crime drama, the short film of 18 minutes duration is too short to fully develop its plot, which has an interesting premise. Kabir, a cheating husband and a wannabe film-star, cannot wait for his billionaire wife Neha to die of a weak and fast-aging heart, because he wants to...

Award Winners at 5th Aurangabad International Film Festival (AIFF), January 09-13, 2019

Award Winners at 5th Aurangabad International Film Festival (AIFF), January 09-13, 2019 A city that is home to numerous historical monuments, Aurangabad, in Maharashtra, was the venue for a film festival that attracted housefull audiences to all the shows. My friend Ashok Rane, who is a film society veteran, journalist and festival regular, has been serving as its Director since last year. He invited me to serve on the feature film Jury, along with Chairperson N. Chandra (director-producer-wr...

RIFF 2019, Jaipur, January 19-23, Winners list, Part II

RIFF 2019, Jaipur, January 19-23, Winners list, Part II Here is the second and final list of films and film personalities who were awarded at the Rajasthan International Film Festival (RIFF), Jaipur, 2019, which concluded last week: INTERNATIONAL FILMS (DOCUMENTARY) Lucia Barata, Director, The Brazilian *Best International Documentary Film: THE BRAZILIAN (BRAZIL) *Special Jury Award for Best International Documentary Film: FAMILY TYPEWRITER (ISRAEL) *Best International Documentary Fi...

RIFF 2019, Jaipur, January 19-23, Winners list, Part I

RIFF 2019, Jaipur, January 19-23, Winners list, Part I Here is the first part of the list of award winners announced at the closing ceremony of the Rajasthan International Film Festival (RIFF), on 23 January 2019, at the INOX Insignia, GT, Jaipur: *Lifetime achievement award in Hindi Cinema: KAMAL KUMAR BARJATYA, RAJSHRI PRODUCTIONS *Theme Award: RAJIT KAPUR for THE MAKING OF THE MAHATMA (THE MAHATMA ON CELLULOID) *PRIDE OF RAJASTHAN: ASHISH SHARMA Honorary Awards for Excellence &n...

Award winners at Diorama International Film Festival, New Delhi, 14-20 January 2019

Award winners at Diorama International Film Festival, New Delhi, 14-20 January 2019 Main award-winners of Diorama International Film Festival (DIIF) were listed in the earlier post. The remaining winners are named below: Silver Sparrow for Best Short Film--'AS THE FIRST TIME WE MET', Director: Emanuela Mascherini (Italy) Golden Sparrow for Best Short Film--'STORYTELLER/HIKAYECI', Director: Anıl Güldoğan (Turkey) Silver Sparrow for the Best Documentary Film--‘...

Diorama screens 104 films; DIFF Film Bazaar conducts $3 million business

Diorama screens 104 films; DIFF Film Bazaar conducts $3 million business The first Diorama International Film Festival (DIFF) concluded on the 20th of January, 2019, with a glittering function held at Siri Fort Auditorium No. 1. A total of 104 films were screened and 49 dignitaries attended. Iconic Iranian director Daruish Mehrjui and veteran Indian film producer-director Subhash Ghai won the lifetime achievement awards. The Golden Sparrow award for best Indian actor, male, went to Ayushma...

Red carpet personalities attending the Diorama International Film Festival, New Delhi, 2019

Red carpet personalities attending the Diorama International Film Festival, New Delhi, 2019 15 January 2019: Sudhir Mishra, Neetu Chandra, David Dhawan, Boney Kapoor, Chitrangada Singh, Anubhav Sinha, Rumi Jaffrey, Ambassador Of Spain, Rafael Kapelinski 16 January 2019: Dariush Mehrjui, Giogio Franchini, Alka Yagnik, Philip Cheah, Rituparna Sengupta, Rumi Jaffrey, Mozhgan Taraneh, Actor, Iran, Rafael Kapelinski, Sanjay P Chahuhan, Rahul Mitra, Shaad Ali, Ajit Andhare, Utpal Acharya, A...

France, Tunisia, China, Iran, Israel, Syria to be focus countries at RIFF 2019

France, Tunisia, China, Iran, Israel, Syria to be focus countries at RIFF 2019 The third and final list of films to be screened at the 5th Rajasthan International Film Festival was released yesterday by Somendra Harsh, the Founder of the festival. Overall, the festival will showcase 25 awarded films, from 10 different countries. Films like the Tunisian feature Benzine, directed by Sarah Abidi , the Zyang Yang directed Chinese feature, Paths of the Soul, Cheang Pu-soi directed Chinese feature...

The Mensile and Biennale International Film Festival of Bengal

The Mensile and Biennale International Film Festival of Bengal International Film Festival of Bengal, also known as Bengal Mensile (meaning monthly) has just been launched. The film festival aims to create a platform for independent Cinema in Bengal, to be showcased along with global cinema. Beside this, Bengal Mensile also provides a Film Market for buyers, distributors, exhibitors, etc. IFFB has just begun, as an online monthly event, and the annual event will be a physical one, to be held...

Manthan and the churning of good cinema: Master Class with Shyam Benegal

Manthan and the churning of good cinema: Master Class with Shyam Benegal Standing upright at 82, the one-time swimming champion and one of the foremost directors of Indian cinema, Shyam Benegal, reminisced about the making of his milestone project Manthan (The Churning/1976), in particular, and about films and film-making in general. The occasion was a Master Class, organised on the platform of White Wall Screenings, at the Habitat, Hotel Uni-Continental, Khar, Mumbai.   Founded by...

RIFF: Second list of films released

Rajasthan International Film Festival : Second list of films released; check our previous release Somendra Harsh, Director and Founder of the Rajasthan International Film Festival (RIFF), today released the second list of films to be screened at the event, which takes place in the state capital, Jaipur, during January 19-23. The films include: TV Actor Ashish Sharma (of Rajasthan) starrer Khejdi, by Rachita Films, about a transgender person, Directed by Rohit Dwivedi ...

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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.


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