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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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Sulemani Keeda, Review: NOde to Fellini, Tarkovsky and out-of-the box thinking

Sulemani Keeda, Review: NOde to Fellini, Tarkovsky and out-of-the box thinking With the title meaning a ‘giant bug up the backside’, and the tag line saying a ‘bromantic comedy’, you more or less know what the genre of Sulemani Keeda will be. Writer-director Amit Masurkar moves away from the brooding tragedy of Kaagaz Ke Phool, the star-fixation of Guddi and the misadventures of an aspiring actor, as in Chala Murari Hero Banne, to concoct a modern-day ballad of two asp...

IFFI, Festival Diary, Part II

A 40 minutes delayed flight on Jet Airways from Mumbai to Panaji, accreditation badge not ready on arrival, late first night due to checking into the hotel, unpacking, settling down, dinner with a friend, etc, missing the next morning's Indian film preview screening because it clashed head-on with the Curtain-Raiser Press Conference (PC), missing the next one while trying to get the badge made, going for the third film of the day, KUTTRAM KADITHAL-Tamil-director Bramma G-2014-122...

IFFI diary, Part I: Delhi's gain, IFFI's loss?

In mid October 2014, the Press Information Bureau (PIB) of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, started calling for accreditations from media-persons. Soon after the International Film Festival of Mumbai (IFFM) got over, journalists started applying for the same. It would be 10 years since the travelling festival moved to Panaji, Goa, and took-up permanent residence there, and in power was Goa's Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who had been in office in 2004 t...

Beauty and the Beast, Review: Beauty LIVES in the eyes of the beholder

Beauty and the Beast, Review: Beauty liVes in the eyes of the beholder Rarely does a fairy-tale manage to pack-in all the ingredients that would appeal to a cross section of audiences--stunning visuals, great special effects, mind-blowing CGI--and also portray characters as credible, in spite of being part of a fable. Beauty and the Beast is one such laudable attempt. That it comes not from Disney (who made it in 1991) or Pixar or any of the regular cartoon/animation studios is a marvel. That...

Rang Rasiya/Colours of Passion, Review: ‘Playboy’ painter and the pin-up prostitute

       Rang Rasiya/Colours of Passion, Review: ‘Playboy’ painter and the pin-up prostitute At last, the much-talked about and mired in censorship issues, director Ketan Mehta’s Rang Rasiya/Colours of Passion finds release in India, with a For Adults Only certificate. There was similar controversy with his 1993 Maya Memsaab, based on Flaubert’s 19th century novel Madame Bovary, and starring ShahRukh Khan opposite Mehta’s wife Deepa Sahi. Twenty...

Interstellar, Review--Gravity of the situation: Galactic Wormhole or Earthy Dust-bowl?

Interstellar, Review-- Gravity of the situation: Galactic Wormhole or Earthy Dust-bowl?   Mainly based on the scientific theories of Kip Thorne, Interstellar is a film that Steven Spielberg was to direct, and took about nine earthly years to land on planet IMAX (probably the last one to be shot on IMAX 15/70 format), courtesy spaceships Warner and Paramount. Thorne is an American Caltech physicist theoretical physicist who has written academic books on general relativity, colla...

Big Hero 6, Review: Disney Marvel in San Fransokyo

                              Big Hero 6, Review: Disney Marvel in San Fransokyo Heroes 6 is fine for young children, since there is almost no swearing, the violence is not really graphic, there is no sex, some drinking is seen at a party, the word ‘nerd’ is used tongue-in-cheek, the hero plays an ‘illegal’ game of Bot (robot) Fighting and makes money by illegally betting on it (this is a ne...

Review, Fireflies: Time doesn't

                          Fireflies, Review: Only flieting merit Two brothers, one married and a social climber, the other a drifter, are at the focus. The married brother had an old flame who reappears in Mumbai, while the bachelor meets his soul-mate in Thailand. The old flame kindles forbidden desire while the soul-mate, an American Indian, wants to treat the affair as a ‘some nights' stand’. Her paramour,...

The Best of Me, Review: Trials and Tribulations alias Love v/s Bullets

The Best of Me, Review: Trials and Tribulations alias Love v/s Bullets Author-producer Nicholas Sparks is on a nine-hole course as his ninth novel is shaped into a film by William Hoffman. The Best of Me is a curiously misleading title that could easily have been associated with a Jim Carrey contortion. Instead, it is a heady, mushy concoction of love and dignity, selflessness and eternity. Former high school sweethearts Amanda Collier and Dawson Cole reconnect after 25 years when their ment...

Gone Girl, Review: Come guys, meet the murderous, disappeared, kidnapped, psychopath

Gone Girl, Review: Murderous, disappeared, kidnapped, psychopath It’s not a bird, it’s not a plane, it’s not Superman; it’s a scheming, vengeful, plotting, suicidal, murderous, ‘gone’ wife. Gone Girl, directed by David Fincher and based upon the bestselling novel by Gillian Flynn, read by many Indians too, unearths the secrets at the heart of a modern American marriage, one marriage that could typify many more. On the occasion of his fifth wedding annivers...

Nightcrawler, Review: Run for it!

                                             Nightcrawler is a ‘media thriller’, set in the nocturnal underbelly of contemporary Los Angeles. Lou Bloom, a driven young man desperate for work who discovers the high-speed world of L.A. crime journalism. Finding a group of freelance camera crews who film car crashes, fires, murder and other mayhem, Lou muscles into the cut...

Fury, Review: What war does to you

Fury, Review: What war does to you April, 1945. As the Allies make their final push in the European war-zone, a battle-hardened army sergeant named Wardaddy (Brad Pitt) Collier commands a Sherman tank and its five-man crew, on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. He is the only survivor in a deadly German ambush, but manages to stay hidden till they leave, and drives his tank back to base. There, after barely recovering from the battle, he is sent on another mission, with a new crew. Outnumbe...

Ouija, Review: Oui et Ja? More like Non and Nein

                                     Ouija, Review: Oui et Ja? More like Non and Nein It’s a Hasbro game. Hasbro is an American company that began as Hassenfeld Brothers. It makes toys and owns franchises like G.I. Joe, Transformers, Mr. Potato Head, Scrabble and Monopoly. Ouija, pronounced Wee-ja, was patented as a spirit board or talking board game in 1890 and acquired by Hasbro in 1991. It c...

Honeymoon, Review: Obsessed groom, possessed wife

                                                      Honeymoon, Review: Obsessed groom, possessed bride Honeymoon is a horror film directed by Leigh Janiak, and her feature film directorial debut. It stars Rose Leslie and Harry Treadaway as a newly married couple whose honeymoon ends up being ruined by a series of strange events that prove fatal. Though less t...

MAMI’s MFF, Diary, Part II: 7th IFFM

    MAMI’s MFF Diary, Part II: 7th IFFM, Jan. 6-13, 2005, Mumbai, India IFFM was into its 7th year when I returned from Singapore for good, and made got the first opportunity to attend the festival. Covering it for the academic publication, Kinema, I wrote: MAMI, the acronym for the body that organises the International Film Festival of Mumbai (IFFM), stands for Mumbai Academy of Moving Image. That’s a curiously old-fashioned name for a body that was set up only about ei...

Festival diary, MAMI’s Mumbai Film Festival (MFF), Part I

Back in the mid 90s, a group of Mumbai-based film-enthusiasts felt that it was time the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) stopped alternating every year between New Delhi and other metro cities like Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Thiruvananthapuram and Mumbai, and settled down in Mumbai for good. Some of the strong factors in favour were: 1. Mumbai is the birth place of Indian cinema and the film capital of India, although films are made aplenty in other cities as well. 2....

MAMI's Mumbai Film Festival: ***+ 5/16 is not a bad score, at any festival

Of the 16 full films that I saw at MAMI's MFF, 5 ranked ***1/2 or more, which is my criterion for finding a film really above the cut. Five more scored ***, which is not bad at all. They are not above the cut, but at the cut. Six were let downs, and I walked out of seven others, at various stages into the screen journey. To be fair, those seven have not been ranked at all, nor have I written their brief reviews. Adding them all, a tally of 16 complete viewings, and seven partial is a ...

What If, Review: The F Word is a Fun Watch

What If What If (alternate title The F Word) is the story of medical school dropout Wallace, who's been repeatedly scarred by bad relationships. So, while everyone around him, including his room-mate Allan seems to be finding the perfect partner, Wallace decides to put his love life on hold. It is then that he meets Chantry, a flirty animator who lives with her long-time boy-friend, Ben. Wallace and Chantry form an instant connection, striking up a close friendship, that includes bonding ...

Left Behind, Review: Vital stuff left behind

Left Behind A reboot of Left Behind: The Movie, Left Behind is an apocalyptic film, based on the New York Times’ bestselling novel, that brings biblical prophecy to life in the present day world--and on board an aeroplane, during a transatlantic flight, piloted by the protagonist. The biblical Rapture strikes the world. Millions of people disappear without a trace. All that remains are their clothes and belongings, terror and chaos spread around the world. The vanishings cause unmanned...

Annabelle, Review: Baby, Doll and the Possession

Annabelle: Baby, Doll and the possession In the milieu of The Conjuring, comes Annabelle. The film starts with the same opening scene from The Conjuring, in which two young women and a young man in 1968 are telling paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren about their experience with a doll they believe to be haunted, known as Annabelle. From there, it goes back in time one year to tell the tale of how the doll came to be imbued with the demonic force that resides within it. John (Ward...

Jagran Film Festival: Last stop Mumbai

                                          5th Jagran Film Festival to be held in Mumbai, from 22nd to 28th September, 2014 After touring movie buffs in 15 cities, the 5th Jagran Film Festival will conclude ​in Mumbai, from Monday,22nd September,2014 to Sunday, 28th September, 2014 at PVR Cinemas, Andheri and Cinemax, Versova. ...

The Prince, Review: Assassin Prince, drug King and two Princesses

The Prince: Assassin Prince, Drug King and two Princesses The Prince is the latest offering from Grand Rapids-born director Brian A. Miller. Shot in Alabama in late 2013, the film was given a limited theatrical release on Aug. 22, 2014, and became available as Video on Demand (VoD) the same day. Three weeks later, it gets its theatrical release in India. It is one of two movies Miller shot back-to-back with Bruce Willis in Alabama. The sci-fi film Vice, which is scheduled for release in 2015,...

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, Review: ...and a Dame Who Kills

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, Review: …and a Dame Who Kills Comics icon Frank Miller and director Robert Rodriguez return nine years after their first trip to Sin City, a four-story compendium outing that had Quentin Tarantino as guest director and Frank Miller in a cameo, as a priest. It was a highly unlikely partnership. Their association began when Miller got a call from Robert Rodriguez (Spy Kids 1 and 2, Desperado). Rodriguez made him a simple offer: Come to Texas for a day. If yo...

Life of Crime, Review: Black comedy with grey areas

Life of Crime: Black comedy with grey areas Elmore Leonard's novel The Switch has been adapted for the screen as Life of Crime by director Daniel Schechter. It is not in the same league as Jackie Brown or Get Shorty. Attempted as a black comedy, it is not black enough (one lead actor being black notwithstanding) nor is it comic enough (some lines and situations are admittedly funny). In the late 70s, the wife (Jennifer Aniston) of a corrupt real estate developer (Tim Robbins) is kidnappe...

Crossing Bridges, Review: Country Roads, take me home

Crossing Bridges: Country Roads, take me to home, to Arunachal If you are likely to be moved to deep emotions and tears by the idea of a Mumbai-based IT professional rediscovering his remote countryside roots in North-East India, and making the life-defining move of permanent homecoming, you will most likely feel you have a seen a minor classic. On the other hand, if you distance yourself and assess the film on merit, you are more likely to feel that it is a well-intentioned film which draws ...

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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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