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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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Ahaa Re (The Two Lovers/Oh, Look at You), Review: Castle of love on bedrock of food

Ahaa Re (The Two Lovers/Oh, Look at You), Review: Castle of love on bedrock of food When you want to make a film about love, lost and found, romance, sublime and selfless, it is a good idea not to include components like villains, fights, item songs, crude comedy, sexual overtones and foul language. So what do you fill your screenplay with? How about conflicts and disparities, of many hues and various proportions? And food? Yes, food. Well if you are a foodie, and a romantic foodie, then why ...

Life in Metaphors-Portraits of Girish Kasaravalli, by O.P. Srivastava: Well framed!

Life in Metaphors-Portraits of Girish Kasaravalli, by O.P. Srivastava: Well framed! A banker with a passion of cinema, Om Prakash Srivastava hung up his ATM to pursue his dream. In 2012, he attended a course in Film Appreciation at Goa, organised by the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), where an ex alumnus and India’s most decorated film-maker, Girish Kasaravalli was taking a master class on film-making. OP was so impressed with the demeanour and erudition of his teacher an...

Brightburn, Review: Stay non-aliened

Brightburn, Review: Stay non-aliened Comic-book creators took Moses as inspiration and wrote out a character called Superman, who arrives on earth as a baby, in a spaceship, from a planet called Krypton, is adopted by a childless couple, shows super powers and grows up to save the world from crisis after crisis. Soon, Superboy, who grew up to be Superman, became an on screen superhero, and a cult figure from the DC comics stable. He even joined hands with other superheroes on occasion and ba...

Yeh Hai India, Review: NREye

Yeh Hai India, Review: NREye Indians settled abroad are called Non-Resident Indians, or NRIs. Not surprisingly, many of them still nurse feelings of love for the land of their birth, or of their fathers, and the often feel guilty pangs of separation from their motherland. Actor-producer-writer-director Manoj Kumar (real name Harikishen Goswami) made some hard hitting and box-office shattering patriotic films in the 60s and 70s, right till the early 80s, that earned him the epithet of Mr. Bhar...

Aladdin, Review: Aladdindeed

Aladdin, Review: Aladdindeed Believe it or not, Aladdin is a one-in-a-thousand-and-one story, part of The Thousand and One Nights (also called The Arabian Nights), stories narrated by a queen called Scheherazade, at bedtime, without revealing the end, to save herself from being killed by her husband, the murderous sadist who kills all his wives the day after he marries each one of them. Disney made an animated version in 1992, and here comes their live action CGI, musical avatar, directed and...

India’s Most Wanted, Review: Mission without ammunition, found wanting

India’s Most Wanted, Review: Mission without ammunition, found wanting Indian spy thrillers have been on the scene ever since the first film of James from Thames was released in India in the early 1960s. They were broadly divided into categories: rip-offs of 007 and C grade thrillers, with action and a bit of titillation. Remarkably, some of them even managed to incorporate catchy songs into the narrative. In the last two decades, after international terrorism, other than the eternal bo...

Salman and Katrina come to Bharat

Salman and Katrina come to Bharat Hotel Taj Land’s End, Bandra, is about 500 metres from where Indian superstar Salman Khan resides. It would take him exactly five minutes to walk to the venue, or two minutes on cycle, cycling being among his favourite indulgences. So why did he arrive at 2 pm for the launch of his home production, Bharat’s, title song, when the time on the invitation was indicated first as 11.30 pm and later delayed by half-an-hour? Only he knows. His fans and mo...

Kavita Kaushik in a Pajama Party without pajamas

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Kavita Kaushik in a Pajama Party without pajamas Pajama Party is a quaint, albeit oddball, title for a play about women empowerment. It was premièred at the thoroughly renovated, grand, regal Royal Opera House, in South Mumbai, on Saturday, 18 May 2019. And I had the privilege of being offered a seat in the first row, which I prudently turned down, to opt for a more vantage point in the third row. The play is in Hinglish and marks the stage debut of TV actresses Kavita Kaushik (CID, FIR,...

John Wick 3-Parabellum, Review: Wicktory is yours

John Wick 3-Parabellum, Review: Wicktory is yours Break neck, break arm, break leg, and break everything action, in all forms of martial, some pre-martial and some post partial arts, glass and furniture, horses galloping, cars and bikes strewn all over the place, one unstoppable man-machine that’s a treat for action lovers, whether Wicked fans or non-wicked. A good example of the benefits reaped by turning to the creator-writer, (co) director and star who put together the first and seco...

A Dog’s Journey, Review: Dogfather

A Dog’s Journey, Review: Dogfather However incredible this may sound, Hollywood has made a film in the traditions of Wadia, Devar and Bokadia, Indian film-makers who dealt with themes involving animals, their exploits, their torture at the hands of human beasts and their faithfulness to their owner and his/her family. A Dog’s Journey is not so much about canine exploits as it is about a dog’s faithfulness, with generous aid from the almighty, who has been falsely accused of ...

De De Pyaar De, Review: Differential calculus

De De Pyaar De, Review: Differential calculus Some films begin on a positive note, start developing into potential winners, and then squander it all away, with inane, inept, insane, insipid, inchoate, infeasible, indifferent, inexcusable, incongruous and inconsequential writing. Most likely inspired by a play, American or Indianised, or a Hollywood romantic comedy, De De Pyaar De (Give Me, Give Me Your Love) begins with a newish take on the age-old plank of Daddy Long Legs (1955) and Lamhe (1...

Student of the Year-2, Review: Kya baddi kya baddi

Student of the Year-2, Review: Kya baddi kya baddi Kya baddi Karan Johar, what was the earth-shaking supersonic idea that made you cash in on the ‘The biggest franchise of Bollywood’ (imdb’s words, not mine) and redraw the Archie-Betty-Veronica isosceles triangle for the umpteenth time, after you yourself had milked it silica gel dry exactly 20 years ago, as Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (185 minutes), and launch a pomp-romp-stomp-clomp-chomp-whomp called Student of the Year 2 (mercifu...

UglyDolls, Review: I’mperfect

UglyDolls, Review: I’mperfect Toys and dolls are inanimate objects, to which we sometimes add motion and flight, using technology. Yet, why do children, and sometimes adults, get so attached to them? Though there exist pet animals, birds and water-borne life that can be, and are often, adopted and accommodated in homes, the attraction that draws young minds, more girls than boys, to dolls, of all shapes, sizes and functions, is a force to reckon with. Most likely, the child owners of su...

Setters, Review: Questionable answers

Setters, Review: Questionable answers Job-oriented education has been a hot topic in India, where unemployment figures and poverty levels are very high. Corruption begins when a child is admitted to the kinder-garten class, with the help of a handsome bribe, euphemistically called ‘donation’. The spiral often continues till the graduation level, where the focus shifts to obtaining leaked examination papers, getting proxy candidates to appear on behalf of weak students, feeding liv...

After, Review: Noah’s arch

After, Review: Noah’s arch Teens to twenties romances do not come to us as just pure teenage romances, which can get terribly boring. There was Love Story, with cancer as the villain, and there was Goodbye Columbus, which had a devil-may-care heroine who invites her boy-friend to live with her family and seduces him with pre-marital sex. Also in the same milieu was When Harry Met Sally, which was drawn around the premise that men and women cannot just be friends. After has a girl brough...

Tarpan, Review: Pride and prejudice

Tarpan, Review: Pride and prejudice To draw even minimal audiences, films like Tarpan need three boosters: positive reviews, film festivals exposure and word-of-mouth publicity. They pick up dark subjects, rooted in current ground reality, write them for the screen in the realistic mode, stick as far as possible to factual references as against a fictional narrative, cast unknown or at least relatively unknown actors who would nevertheless deliver, retain a technical team that can put-togethe...

Avengers, Endgame: Thanostradamus

Avengers, Endgame: Thanostradamus As star casts go, Avengers: Endgame runs up a mind-boggling score. Like in theatrical performances, where all characters come on to the stage after the performance to take a bow, Endgame brings them all on screen, even resurrecting the dead, in a show of ultimate strength, before their nemesis is vanquished. Just as it takes two lives to conquer the dark force, the dark force itself needs to be conquered not once but twice. It is ingenious writing, to lay out...

Kalank, Review: Masochistic miasma

Kalank, Review: Masochistic miasma Everything in Kalank (blemish, stigma) is grand, both in content and in form. Sets and décor, riches and poverty, locales and vehicles, make-up and costumes, dances and fights, colours and luminance, all are designed to make your jaw drop in awe. All this opulence is merely the canvas on which a heart-wrenching tragedy is painted, around the time of India’s partition, with the entire ensemble cast at the receiving end of a woeful operatic wail, ...

Seasoned with Love: The last suppers

Seasoned with Love: The last suppers How long does it take to commit two murders and get away unscathed? Fourteen minutes, according to director Lakshmi R. Iyer. Infidelity and Murder are the flavours of the season, what with the feature Andhadhun and the short The Perfect Murder. Now that the Internet provides you with a ‘How to’ kit, killing is no big deal, at least cinematically. But what fun is bumping off infidels unless they are granted their dying wish of last suppers, and ...

Hellboy, Review: Unapologetic, ugly, bloody mayhem; who’s complaining?

Hellboy, Review: Unapologetic, ugly, bloody mayhem; who’s complaining? This hell of a film, mutatis mutandis, might have come from either stable, Marvel or DC. As it happens, it owes its genesis to Dark Horse Comics graphic novels and follows on two enterprises helmed by Guillermo del Toro, in 2004 and 2008.  Del Toro was to venture into a third outing too, but that kept simmering on the back burner for a whole decade. Finally, when it saw light of day, the director’s credit ...

Pet Sematary, Review: Grave errors

Pet Sematary, Review: Grave errors Like most horror films, Pet Sematary begins with a family relocating to a remote house, near a forest, thereby extending an invitation to the supernatural to prepare a proper welcome for them. The only obvious difference is that here the spirits do not reside inside the house, but in a cemetery nearby, though the undead nevertheless float in and wreak havoc on the isolated inmates, as part of their job profile. A few genuine scares towards the end of the sto...

Romeo Akbar Walter (RAW), Review: Uncooked meal, raw deal

Romeo Akbar Walter (RAW), Review: Uncooked meal, raw deal Espionage, as a film genre, is more than 84 years old. A master, no less than Alfred Hitchcock himself, made The 39 Steps in 1935. So it is baffling that a spy thriller, made in 2017-18, is oblivious of the rudimentary ingredients entailed to engross audiences. Ennui and crawling pace are anathema to a spy story. When the yard-sticks are James Bond and even John Le Carré, a shoddy script, amateurishly executed, stands no chance ...

Agnès Varda: Diminutive doyenne of the French New Wave dead at 90

Agnès Varda: Diminutive doyenne of the French New Wave dead at 90 She would have turned 91 in two months, but breast cancer claimed her last week. The end came at her Paris home. Till the end, she remained the only female member of the French Nouvelle Vague (New Wave). Her last film was Varda by Agnès, shown at the Berlinale earlier this year. It was an unpredictable documentary from a fascinating story-teller, shedding light on her experience as a director, bringing a personal ...

Fighting with My Family, Review: Soap opera in spandex

Fighting with My Family, Review: Soap opera in spandex Somebody must tell biopic makers, especially true stories about sports personalities, that there is very little difference between one and the other. They all follow, more or less, the same road map, and get to the same place. And because these are true stories, the writers and directors do pretty little to enliven the journey, lest they be accused of taking too many liberties, or, worse, earn the ire of the personality in person, if aliv...

Gully Boy Ranveer Singh launches music label, calls it IncInk

Gully Boy Ranveer Singh launches music label, calls it IncInk You could not tell anything from the invitation, except that it was sent by YashRaj Films and had something to do with IncInk. The mystery unravelled on 29th March, at Mumbai’s Four Seasons Hotel, after a 90 minute wait. Suddenly, moviestar Ranveer Singh, who is on a roll after Gully Boy, a film in which he plays a rap-star, rolled-in to a chorus of “Baba, Baba” chants. He kept running around the hall, hugging and...

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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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