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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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Our Brand is Crisis, Review: Dirty politricks

Our Brand is Crisis, Review: Dirty politricks On one hand, Our Brand is Crisis dispels all delusions anybody might still have about elections being the ultimate manifestation of democracy…and how! On the other, it makes mud-slinging look exceedingly simple to indulge in, with pictures and quotes being the only real weapons you need. Of course, there are the obligatory debates, baring of hearts on live television, and the dirty tricks department of state machinery, that play their parts...

Third Eye 14th Asian Film Festival, 2015, III: Bad features, good shorts

  Third Eye 14th Asian Film Festival, 2015, III: Bad features, good shorts Two national awards, one for the best film in its language (Haryanvi, spoken in the north Indian state of Haryana, which shares its capital Chandigarh with Punjab) and another for best supporting actress do not contribute to a completely predictable story that drags for far too long. Pagadi (meaning turban), also titled Pagadi—The Honour, is about the heartless custom of killing young men and women who fall i...

Third Eye 14th Asian Film Festival, 2015, II: Features--Picks and pricks

Third Eye 14th Asian Film Festival, 2015, II: Features--Picks and pricks AFF has a European connection too, and a competitive section that is restricted to short films. Sub-sections include Spectrum Asia, which had 18 features, Focus on Israel six, Indian Vista six, Japanese Masters two, Through the Women’s Eye six and there were four films in the European Connection, by the Turkish-German director, Fatih Akin. The festival also celebrated 60 years of Satyajit Ray’s Pather Pancha...

Third Eye 14th Asian Film Festival, 2015, I: Mixed fare, few takers

  Third Eye 14th Asian Film Festival, 2015, I: Mixed fare, few takers It came at the fag end of the year, a week of holidays and unwinding. Prabhat Chitra Mandal, the organising film society, has a large member-base, and has held the festival at bigger and multiple screen venues in the past. Financial constraints, easy availability of films on alternative platforms and the plethora of film festivals that are held these days in Mumbai and elsewhere mean diminishing audiences. So,...

Point Break, Review: Death-defying spectacle and spectacular deaths

  Point Break, Review: Death-defying spectacle and spectacular deaths Point break: Noun. In surfing, a type of long-lasting wave, found off a coast with a headland or point. Example: A point break is formed when a swell moves around the land, almost at a right angle to the beach, and a break, which begins near the point, gradually progresses along the wave. A young Johnny Utah (Luke Bracey) watches helplessly as his extreme sports partner Jeff (Max Thieriot) falls to his death from a mou...

Monster Hunt, Review: Happy hunting

Monster Hunt, Review: Happy hunting A project that took 10 years to make it to the screen, Monster Hunt rewards you with a good catch of lovable anthromorphic characters and oodles of humour, with numerous subtle messages of inclusion, anti-stereo-typing and tolerance, interwoven into rich tapestry. In medieval China, monsters ruled the land. Then humans fought an all-out war against them, in an attempt to seize the land. They outwitted the monsters and succeeded in driving them into the dar...

Sadhana, Indian star turned recluse, passes away at 74

Sadhana, Indian star turned recluse, passes away at 74 Sadhana Shivdasani, known by her first name/screen name, succumbed to cancer on Christmas day in Mumbai. Born in Karachi in 1941, British India, Sadhana was named after her father's favorite, actress-dancer Sadhana Bose. Her father was the brother of actor Hari Shivdasani, father of actress Babita. The family fled from Karachi during the post-Partition riots and settled in Mumbai.               ...

Star Wars, Episode 7-The Force Awakens, Review: But is still drowsy

Twice during the Mumbai première screening, entries were greeted with whistles—once when Harrison Ford (Han Solo) entered his spaceship, right of frame to left, accompanied by Chewbacca, and the second time when R2-D2 was shown in the right corner, with C-3PO leading us to him. The audience included Indian superstar-director-producer Aamir Khan and his director wife, Kiran Rao, though it is impossible to ascertain whether the applauders included this couple. Both the applauded ch...

IFFI Goa 2015, Festival Diary, XI: PornograIFFI

IFFI Goa 2015, Festival Diary, XI: PornograIFFI Highly erotic content is not unusual at IFFI, or, for that matter, any international film festival. But pornography? That’s not so common. Many years ago, there was a film based on the life of a porn-star, with several close-ups of her inspecting the sexual organs of the men she was to choose from, based on the appearance of their manhood, who would be paired with her in the scenes to be shot. More recently, we had Lars von Trier’s m...

MFF 17, by Jio-MAMI, Festival Diary, V

MFF 17, by Jio-MAMI, Festival Diary, V Long festivals and so many films to watch, besides the regular weekly releases to see and review—not unexpectedly, festival diaries go into several parts, and even get interrupted by another festival that follows on the heels of the earlier one. MFF17 was followed by IFFI. But there still so much to day about MFF, so here’s one more instalment of the Diary. Thithi is a two-hour long Kannada film set in rural Karnataka. It has earned rave rev...

Peanuts, Review: Dog and underdog

Peanuts, Review: Dog and underdog Undeniably, there is a large section of American comic-strip fans who are nuts about peanuts. There is a small section of Indians who feel the same, and have followed the exploits and ‘profound’ philosophy of good ol’ Charlie Brown and his dog Snoopy, for decades. Charles M. Schulz’s comic strip, Peanuts, first appeared in newspapers in 1950. Recently, there have been Bill Melendez-directed animated projects featuring Charlie Brown, c...

IFFI Goa 2015, Festival Diary, X: NFDC and Incredible India’s Film Bazaar

IFFI Goa 2015, Festival Diary, X NFDC and Incredible India’s Film Bazaar This year, the Bazaar saw participation of more than 1,100 delegates, from over 38 countries. Approximately 157 new South Asian films were shown in the viewing room, and 37 participants from 5 different countries were in the producers' lab. 19 projects were selected in the co-production market and 18 scripts in the three screenwriters' labs. Encouraging figures. A newspaper report, on 26 November 2015 rea...

IFFI Goa 2015, Festival Diary, IX: Advance to the rear

IFFI Goa 2015, Festival Diary, IX: Advance to the rear ...

IFFI Goa 2015, Festival Diary, VIII: Did the best ones win?

IFFI Goa 2015, Festival Diary, VIII: Did the best ones win? Without any doubt, my favourite for Best Picture was Embrace of the Serpent (Colombia) directed by Ciro Guerra. The Jury, too, found the black and white film about the Amazon, its rape by greedy foreigners and the destruction of the mythical but pristine lives of its native inhabitants “mind-blowing”, which is reason for feeling vindicated. This is the eighth or ninth time, out of eleven IFFIs at Goa, that my pick for the...

IFFI Goa 2015, Festival Diary, VII

IFFI Goa 2015, Festival Diary, VII This is being written the day before the closing ceremony, where the winners will be announced. I have missed Filosofi Kopi (Philosophy Coffee, Indonesia), Labyrinth of Lies (Germany) and Journey to the Shore (Japan/France). Moreover, one competition film has yet to be screened, so my front-runner list may face an upset. But then, the upset can come anyway, if the jury’s opinions differ from mine. So, these are the films I have seen, and my favourites...

IFFI Goa 2015, Festival Diary VI

Continuing short reviews of films, seen at the 46th International Film Festival of India. (See Festival Diary I, II, III, IV and V for more coverage) Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara: India: Zoya Akhtar Dude, this was released in 2011! So how come you are writing about it now? Simple. I saw it NOW! Daughter of a writer-poet father, one of India’s best-known, and an actress who was famous as a child star, Zoya is perhaps not as famous as her brother Farhan, who is an actor-director-producer-wr...

IFFI Goa 2015, Festival Diary V

IFFI Goa 2015, Festival Diary V Continuing short reviews of films, seen at the 46th International Film Festival of India. (See Festival Diary I, II, II and IV for more coverage) Father (Babai): Germany/Kosovo/Republic of Macedonia: Visar Morina Leaving the narrative open and blending real-time and flash-forward cost the otherwise praiseworthy film the wider appreciation it deserved. Just one seamless insertion had many viewers wondering what happened. Was it all a dream? Or was just that s...

IFFI Goa 2015, Festival Diary, III

IFFI Goa 2015, Festival Diary, III Diary pages have got juggled, inadvertently, so, though numbered III, this page should have been IV. Please excuse the oversight and treat this as IV. Although posted earlier, IV is actually III. Austerity is the name of the game, mismanagement is the characteristic and continuing hostility towards media, and, in some cases, delegates too, are factors that dominate IFFI Goa 2015. A circus called the Film Bazaar, organised by the National Film Development Co...

IFFI Goa 2015, Festival Diary, IV

IFFI Goa 2015, Festival Diary, IV IFFI Goa 2015, Festival Diary, IV At IFFI, the grand prizes are called the Golden Peacock and Silver Peacock, although India’s national bird is far from either golden or silver in colour, and the décor at the venue this year is derived from various shades of blue, including violet and purple. A total of 15 films have been short-listed in the International Competition Section, two of them India, both from the Eastern state of West Bengal....

IFFI Goa 2015, Festival Diary, II

IFFI Goa 2015, Festival Diary, II To be held from November 20th to 30 2015 in Panaji, Goa, Goa, the 46th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) will showcase movies across several sections, including World Cinema, Indian Panorama, Country Focus, International Competition, Retrospectives, Tributes, First Cut, Workshops, Master Classes,  and more. IFFI is organised by the Directorate of Film Festivals, Information and Broadcasting Ministry, Government of India, in association with the...

IFFI Goa 2015, Festival Diary, I

It began, like Ameen Sayani’s legendary film music popularity countdown show, Binaca Geetmala, in 1952, a few months after I was born. The first International Film Festival of India (IFFI) was held in 1952, in Bombay, which was at that time, a state in itself. It was a non-competitive festival and ran for a fortnight. Twenty three countries, including host India, participated, along with the United Nations Organisation. 52 feature films and 115 documentaries, scientific films, cartoons, ...

MFF 17, by Jio-MAMI, Festival Diary, IV

MFF 17, by Jio-MAMI, Festival Diary, IV At film festivals, the experience of watching films is like no other. You have many choices, depending on the venue, and the option of walking out of one ‘bad’ film into another unknown entity, just next door, trying pot-luck. Advance booking, the norm at MFF, means that you might never ever succeed in getting a ticket, given that the number of delegates and media-persons always far outweighs the number of seats available, often by 3:1 or 4:...

MFF 17, by Jio-MAMI, Festival Diary, III

MFF 17, by Jio-MAMI, Festival Diary, III For me, MFF 17 began on 31st October, with Star India’s Movie Mela (Fair), India's first movie carnival, where, over the whole day, a reported two thousand movie fans and celebrities tuned-up. The event was open to all delegates and was held at Mehboob Studios, in Bandra, founded by one India’s greatest ever film-makers, Mehboob Khan. It was kicked off with a session by director Rajkumar Hirani (Munnabhai, 3 Idiots, PK) and his writer,...

MFF 17, by Jio-MAMI, Festival Diary, II

MFF 17, by Jio-MAMI, Festival Diary, part I  MFF 17, by Jio-MAMI, Festival Diary, II                                       Kiran Rao and Anupama Chandra Come 28 October, and we learnt that the inauguration of Jio MAMI 17th Mumbai Film Festival would be held on 29th October in open-air at Mumbai’s most famous landmark, the Gateway of India. It was also learnt that the inaugural fi...

MFF 17, by Jio-MAMI, Festival Diary, I

MFF 17, by Jio-MAMI, Festival Diary, I                                                                                                        (Coming up: Part II) It began in 1997, as the International Film Festival of Mumbai (IFFM). Som...

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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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