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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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The Huntsman-Winter’s War, Review: Ice Maiden and Sinister Sister

The Huntsman-Winter’s War, Review: Ice Maiden and Sinister Sister What? No Snow White in the title? Right. Almost no Snow White in the picture too. Many Huntsmen, one ‘The Huntsman’, two evil queen sisters who hate everybody, including each other, a few dwarves, a kingdom of gnomes and monsters, and the ubiquitous mirror that often steals the image (read: scene). Evil Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron), who has the power of shooting tentacles to wrap her opponents, betrays her...

FRAMES, FICCI’s Media & Entertainment conclave, attracts 20 countries

FRAMES, FICCI’s Media & Entertainment conclave, attracts 20 countries FRAMES is big. There is no M&E (Media and Entertainment) event in the country bigger than FRAMES. For many years now, the venue is the idyllic hotel in Mumbai’s lake-district, and the only thing wrong with the location is the distance that many attendees have to cover to get there. To those unfortunate visitors who live either at the southern end of the island or the outer suburbs in the north, it could ...

Demolition, Review: Shun

Demolition, Review: Shun If ever there was a practical example of ‘deconstruction for the sake of reconstruction’ being taken too literally, here is one. Our protagonist, a tormented and meandering soul, cannot cope with the loss of his wife, which tragedy has benumbed him. So, he remembers what his father-in-law once said, that in order to rebuild something, you have to demolish it first. His father is a more than sane investment banker and his own boss (which means that our hero...

The Jungle Book, Review: Unputdownable

The Jungle Book, Review: Unputdownable A fitting tribute to the 1967 version on its golden jubilee, The Jungle Book is unputdownable. You might find differences in the two versions, and in the book itself. Don’t bother comparing. If the smooth-sailing songs make you sing-along (a friend seated on my left just wouldn’t stop), even better. Gaze into the volcanic eyes of the animals, marvel at the resourcefulness of the man-cub, and applaud the imagination of the writer who spun this...

The Divergent Series-Allegiant Part I, Review: Alley Giant

The Divergent Series-Allegiant Part I, Review: Alley Giant Three down, one to go. This film is the first of two cinematic parts, based on the novel Allegiant, the final book in the Divergent trilogy, by Veronica Roth, and the third instalment in The Divergent Series of films. On the score board too, the series hits divergent marks. Neil Burger barely scraped through with the Divergent debut two years ago, while German director Robert Schwentke acquitted himself well in Insurgent last year. Sc...

Rocky Handsome, Review: Rocky terrain, bumpy ride

Rocky Handsome, Review: Rocky terrain, bumpy ride Okay, so John Abraham is a handsome hunk with codename. Rocky...Handsome...does that justify the title? Read on. John is great at action and decides to cash in on his forté yet again in another remake, with remake veteran director Nishikant Kamat. Remember John’s earlier home production called Force, remake of a Tamil film? This time, the team looks to the Far East, and settles for the gut-wrenching, bullet spraying, bone-crushing...

Batman v Superman - Dawn of Justice, Review: Bruced ego and the krypTonite show

Is there no justice in this world? Lex Luthor argues that since God takes sides, he cannot be a just hero, and likewise Superman, who is revered as God’s agent on earth. What if Superman went rogue, he postulates? So, he asks the White House to allow him to import kryptonite (rock from Kal El’s native planet, Krypton, that robs him of his superpowers) from an ancient ship wreckage in the Indian Ocean, just in case.... Senators are not impressed, possibly because instead of behavin...

Eye in the Sky, Review: Mor(t)al blows

Eye in the Sky, Review: Mor(t)al blows Collateral damage has been an emotion charged topic for debates world-wide, ever since the USA began bombing foreign locations, where, it believed, wanted persons were living, hiding or gathering. Along with its allies, notably the UK, the USA has been carrying out pre-emptive air-strikes for decades. Eye in the Sky (the title does not do full justice to its theme and thrust) is about the compunction experienced by a group of high-placed government offic...

Race, Review: Giving racists a run for their money

Race, Review: Giving racists a run for their money How long does it take for an Olympic champion to run 100 metres? Less than 10 seconds. Jesse Owens (1913-1980) was the first American in the history of Olympic track and field to win four gold medals in a single Olympiad. Back in 1936, the attention span of viewers must have been considerably longer than in this age of nano-second technology. Therefore, to make a 2h 14m film on events that occurred 80 years ago, to attract dwindling audiences...

The Program, Review: Enhanced performances

The Program, Review: Enhanced performances First, there was a musician called Louis Armstrong. Then most of earth and all of moon heard about Neil Armstrong. Much later, we read and saw the exploits of cycling champion Lance Armstrong. Louis remains a musical great. Man-on-the-moon was an unimaginable theory that captured the hearts and minds of the whole world, but has now found its detractors, probably growing steadily in number, who claim the whole program (American spelling intended) was ...

Triple 9, Review: 9 pins

Triple 9, Review: 9 pins If bodies count in a crime drama, the body count in Triple 9 is very high. In fact, hardly anybody is left alive in the end. So that makes it morbid. Decapitation and gore galore make it really blood-curdling. Cops and criminals mixing and mingling, while betraying and killing each other, make it confusing. High-profile robberies, blackmail, drug dealers, buddy-buddy cops, uncle-nephew, brother-brother, alcoholic cop, titillation (if the censors have let it pass), bet...

13 Hours-The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, Review: Michael? No Bay!

13 Hours-The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, Review: Michael? No Bay! This 144 minute film is a good 44 minutes too long for its own good. It reconfirms the golden rule that true stories are not necessarily film material, unless worked-on real hard by a team of talented individuals, more behind the camera than in front of it. That it is produced and directed by Michael Bay adds to the disappointment. How accurate it is, in terms of recent history, is a matter of debate, both in the USA and in Li...

Zootopia, Review: Viewtopia

Zootopia (known as Zootropolis in some countries) is Disney’s 55th animated feature, in 3D computer graphics. The theme--unlikely buddies teaming-up to solve a crime--is not exactly a novel idea in Hollywood productions, but buddy comedy-drama takes an entirely new meaning when the buddies happen to be a rabbit and a fox, and the villains are animals too, for this make-believe tale is set in Zootopia, a highly civilised, modern and automated mammal world, sans human beings. Though there ...

London Has Fallen, Review: The Butler did it

London Has Fallen, Review: The Butler did it If he can save the White House, can London be far behind? To be accurate, it never really fell. Yes, London Bridge was blown up. A few hundred armed terrorists, with a few dozen combat vehicles, had gained access to the city’s communications network, donned local police uniforms, blown-up most of the historical monuments and deployed surface to air missiles locked at the escaping US President’s helicopter, and all was well, until Mike B...

45 Years, Review: 95 minutes of great cinema

45 Years, Review: 95 minutes of great cinema A tender and touching British film waits you in the shape of 45 Years. If you have had enough of mass destructive action, comic superheroes and animation, try this slice of life that challenges you to find artificiality in either the narrative or in the performances. No action at all, no heroes, no animation, very little comedy, a few dies of subtle humour, and the sex quotient is a lesson in bedroom manners. The film takes place across six days, ...

Gods of Egypt, Review: With Gods like these…

An Australia-United States co-production, Gods of Egypt was shot in Australia, predominantly on green screens, at Fox Studios, Sydney. Most ‘Egyptian’ Gods are played by Caucasian actors and the boundaries between earth, the sky, heaven, hell, man, god, ferocious bird, plasto-metallic creatures, life and death, are all blurred. CGI, forced perspective, shooting with two cameras side-by-side, motion control, are the flavours of the day. Authenticity is conspicuous by its absence. R...

Carol, Review: Sensitised, Sanitised, Lesbianism

It happens around Christmas, so Carol is the quite the name of the season. Yes, there is snow and Christmas trees and gifts, but Carol is no innocent Santa Claus tale. Rather, it is an exquisitely woven love story, between two women. We can call them lesbians today, without looking over the shoulder, but when Patricia Highsmith wrote the novel, in Senator McCarthy’s America of the early 1950s, a time of witch-hunting, the term would surely invite wrath. Sixty-four years later, there are ...

FICCI FLO Film Festival, Report, II: Films FLO

One look at the well-produced brochure and the handy schedule told me that a whole lot of personnel and corporate bodies had contributed, in cash and in effort, to put FFFF together. For the forty- two odd films screened, the festival sponsors and partners thanked for their participation numbered the same. With such support, a much better show could have been put up. But that’s another story. Question arose, why were there only 42 films in three days and three venues? Because many films...

FICCI FLO Film Festival, Report, I: FLO Mo

FICCI FLO Film Festival, Report, I: FLO Mo Known for organising India’s biggest three-day Media and Entertainment conclave in March every year, FRAMES, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) held its first film festival in the city of Mumbai, during February 18-20, a fortnight after the Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF) and six weeks before FRAMES. It was organised by the FICCI Ladies Organisation, FLO. Unfortunately, due to a host of reasons, FICCI F...

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Review: Gory pride, bloody prejudice

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Review: Gory pride, bloody prejudice It’s not quite like anything you have seen before. Imagine going on a cruise, in a carrier that is part horse-drawn and part ship. On board, there are two sets of activities going on: a family of five sisters and their parents are trying to get the girls married by hook or by crook, and another set of creatures, called the zombies or the undead, are fe eding on human flesh, threatening to eat up all the humans who in...

How to be Single, Review: Not this way, for sure

How to be Single, Review: Not this way, for sure There is no success formula to being single, just as there is no magic prescription for being married. Time was when you were either single or married. Time is when you could be single, married, twice married, thrice married, nth time married, divorced, nth time divorced, undergoing trial separation, in a relationship, into one-night stands…. But the title of this film indicates that is about persons who are single, so let’s keep i...

Deadpool, Review: Deaddy Cool

After it was shown to the Central Board of Film Certification in Mumbai last week, I learnt that Deadpool was offered a U/A (under 16 not allowed unless accompanied by adults), if they deleted some content, otherwise the certificate would say A (for Adults Only). The distributors were happy with an A rating, so the content was left intact. But the question that arose then, as it had arisen when I learnt that it was rated R abroad, was why is a super hero comic cartoon character film being rest...

Trumbo, Review: Oh my God! A Communist wrote Roman Holiday!

Dalton Trumbo (Bryan Cranston) is a successful American screen-writer in the Hollywood of the 30s and 40s. However, his outspoken support for labour unions, and his membership of the Communist Party of the USA, draws the contempt of staunchly anti-Soviet entertainment industry figures, such as columnist Hedda Hopper (Helen Mirren) and actor John ‘Duke’ Wayne (David James Elliott). J. Parnell Thomas (James DuMont) heads the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Trumbo is one o...

MIFF 2016: Winners’ list

  MIFF 2016: Winners’ list Manipuri documentary film Phum Shang (Floating Life) won the Golden Conch Award for the Best Documentary Film (up to 60 minutes) at the 14th Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF) for Documentary, Animation and Short Films, which ended on 03 February 2016.  Swiss film My Name is Salt, and Indian entry Placebo shared the Gold Conch award for the Best Feature length Documentary Film. In the picture are, l to r, Mukesh Sharma (Director,...

MIFF 2016: Q & A, with the International Jury

MIFF 2016: Q & A, with the International Jury In the last press conference of Mumbai International Film festival (MIFF), three of the five members of the international competition jury came up to the Media Centre on Tuesday, 02 February, met members of the press, and answered various questions related to their experience at MIFF. Jesper Anderson from Denmark is a journalist and film curator, Don Askarian a German film-maker of Armenian origin whose award-winning films are being screened a...

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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

India



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