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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 November Man, Review: Bond meets Bourne meets John Le Carre

                                                 The November Man: Bond meets Bourne meets John Le Carré  Four times James Bonder Pierce Brosnan and the franchise parted company about a dozen years ago. Shortly after that, he started making plans to film a spy novel quite different from Bond sagas. It took ten years to materialise, but materialise it did. So,...

Gandhi director Attenborough leaves a rich legacy

            Gandhi director Richard Attenborough leaves a rich legacy Surviving ten testing years, actor-director-producer Lord Richard Attenborough (Life Peer-1993, CBE-1967, knighted-1976, Padma Bhushan-1983), breathed his last on 24 August 2014, five days short of his 91st birthday. For many in the film fraternity, the face of British cinema has faded out. For millions in India, it is the passing away of the Englishman who immortalised the Father of the Ind...

The Expendables 3, Review: Gen Ex+Gen Next

The Expendables 3: Generation Ex+Gen Next “The challenge was to write literally 16 main characters in a two-hour movie, and how often do you get to write for Zorro, the Terminator, Rocky, Indiana Jones and Mad Max?”—Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt, co-writers, The Expendables 3. The Expendables are a group of righteous, patriotic mercenaries, used by the CIA in operations where the US government does not want to be officially involved. They are led by Barney Ross...

Robin Williams joins Dead Poets’ Society

Thatman Robin joins Dead Poets’ Society Comedy is heart wrenching, and can be fatal. For the comedian, that is. As it was, for Robin, the genius, who ended his 37-year career, and his 63-year life, by apparently killing himself, on 11 August 2014, at his home. What really killed him? Cocaine? Alcohol? Depression? Parkinson's? Maybe a combination of all. But cinema lost one of its most versatile, innovative actors, who was also incomparable in his wit, mimicry and motor-mouth reparte...

The Hundred-Foot Journey, Review: Worth going far to watch

The Hundred-Foot Journey: Worth going far to watch Riots, destruction of  his restaurant, and his wife (Juhi Chawla)’s death push Papa Kadam (Om Puri) and his four children out of India. The family moves to London, eventually settling in a quaint village in France. The village is both picturesque and elegant – the ideal place to settle down and open an Indian restaurant. And so, the Maison (house) Mumbai is born. The cold and stiff chef-proprietress of Le Saule Pleureur, a M...

Guardians of the Galaxy, Review: Gunn's bull's eye!

Guardians of the Galaxy: Gamora, Groot, Rocket, a Great time at the Galaxy and Gunn's bull's eye! Produced by Marvel (Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, The Avengers) and distributed by Disney, Guardians of the Galaxy (GOTG) is the tenth instalment in Marvel’s cinematic forays. It is co-written and directed by James Gunn, and is one of their best ever. Generous doses of humour, CGI used to stunning effect, incredible sets, mesmerising VFX, villainish/grey heroes from three kingdom...

CommunicAsia-BroadcastAsia 2014 was a block-buster, VII

                                                                                                                                             ...

Hercules, Review

Hercules You could add an extra dimension to a demi-god and turn him into a full god. But the power of a God would not find much in common with human film-goers living a mundane existence, who secretly identify with the on-screen exploits of super-MEN. Why not work it the other way around? Why not subtract a dimension? Why not doubt even the demi-god status, and let the audience think that the tale is a myth, and that the real Hercules is just a hard-hitting, large-framed mercenary? They will...

Mumbai Women's International Film Festival, 2014

Women’s Film Festival returns to Mumbai The second edition of the Mumbai Women’s International Film Festival (MWIFF), an 8-day event, organised by Oculus Creations, is slated for 6th to 13th December, 2014, with the goal of showcasing women's talent behind the camera and giving them the spotlight they deserve.  The competitive category includes Short Films, Documentary Films, and Feature Films; the non- competitive category includes World Cine-busters, Wor...

Lucy, Review

Lucy From La Femme Nikita and The Professional to The Fifth Element, writer/director Luc Besson has created some of the toughest, most memorable female action heroes in cinematic history. Meet the latest: Lucy (Scarlett Johansson). Lucy is attractive, not tall, not muscular, with a cutish face, vulnerable, even gullible--An unlikely action hero, an unlikely drug-racket battling, science’s accidental guinea pig who is about to prove unwittingly the theory of an eminent scientist concerni...

The Grand Budapest Hotel, Review

The Grand Budapest Hotel Wes Anderson’s 8th feature film is inspired by the writings of Austrian writer Stefan Zweig (he admits to having “directly stolen” many ideas from Zweig’s works, as well as from his life). He pays tribute to Zweig in the credits, though he then takes co-credit for the film script. In terms of detail, scenic splendour, costumes, make-up and free-wheeling narrative, The Grand Budapest Hotel is an exciting experience. As a comedy, it falls short o...

James Garner: Life, films, TV, quotes

James Garner: Rockford, the Maverick James Scott Bumgarner, born on 07 April 1928 in Oklahoma, known to millions of film-buffs as James Garner, died on 19 July 2014, aged 86. Here’s a tribute to the TV and film-star. It was a tough childhood, by any standards. James’ mother Mildred died when he was four. His father, Weldon (Bill), an alcoholic, remarried. The new mother was abusive. Soon, the Hollywood High School student James was a drop-out. He joined the merchant marines at ag...

CommunicAsia-BroadcastAsia 2014 was a block-buster, VI

CommunicAsia-BroadcastAsia diary, Singapore, June 2014 --A revisit 12 years later, to a block-buster event Sony’s new camcorders and Ericsson’s 4K campaign Sony released two new cameras in the XDCAM series of cameras at Broadcast Asia, Singapore, last month. The PXW-160 and 180 both feature 3 1/3"full HD Exmor CMOS sensors. A 25x zoom (26mm-650mm 35mm equivalent) G lens and a world first electronic variable Neutral Density (ND) are two of the stand out features. Full HD...

PLANES: Fire and Rescue, Review

PLANES: Fire and Rescue/PLANES2 Dozens of talking, humanoid, attractive planes+hundreds of talking, humanoid vehicles of all cute shapes and sizes+lush landscapes+recurrent forest fires+zero human beings. That is the cast and locale of PLANES: Fire and Rescue, a Disneytoon production, directed by Bobs Gannaway, sequel to the 2013 PLANES, directed by Klay Hall. It is a 3D animated comedy, with morals galore and a handicapped hero who comes of age in the climax. You might recall the earlier ou...

Begin Again, Review

Begin Again Almost all the characters in Begin Again are losers, and in the end…sublime love prevails…no spoilers here! The film has an Adults Only rating in India, which seems a bit harsh. Some mutes, some beeps, a couple of more snips (a couple are noticed as jerks on screen) and it should have managed a UA (persons below 18 allowed if accompanied by adults). The latest film from Irish writer-director John Carney (Once), Begin Again is a musical (as  about the music rec...

CommunicAsia-BroadcastAsia 2014 was a block-buster, V

CommunicAsia-BroadcastAsia diary, Singapore, June 2014 --A revisit 12 years later, to a block-buster event V: 4k resolutions up to 1,000 fps, HD up to 3,000 fps Prime Focus was the first familiar Indian name that I noticed at the Communicasia-BroadcastAsia twin events, while the first Singaporean Indian booth I stopped at was t-eight. Two persons were busy demonstrating the merits of ‘slowing down your world’. In film parlance, that means using high speed cameras that, when...

CommunicAsia-BroadcastAsia 2014 was a block-buster, IV

CommunicAsia diary, Singapore, June 2014 --A revisit 12 years later, to a block-buster event IV: HD going, UHD coming Intelsat to spread 4K UHD 60 fps broadcasts One of the events I could not attend at CommunicAsia 2014 was: Intelsat, BT, Ericsson, Newtec and Sony cordially invite you to a 4K Ultra High Definition (UHD) discussion and transmission of a live event via satellite at CommunicAsia 2014.   Date:         Tuesday, 17 June 2014 Time:&n...

CommunicAsia-BroadcastAsia 2014 was a block-buster, III

CommunicAsia diary, Singapore, June 2014--A revisit 12 years later, to a block-buster event III: 58,500 sq metres, Names and numbers Incorporating CommunicAsia, BroadcastAsia, EnterpriseIT, SatComm, MobileCommAsia, NetworkAsia, ProfessionalAudioTechnology 2014 and the imbX Ministerial Forum on ICT, the magna event brought together business leaders, companies and industry professionals to showcase their latest innovations, network, exchange ideas and tap new markets. It was arranged on five l...

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Review

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Apes more human than homo sapiens, humans decimated by a simian flu, their two kingdoms separated by a boundary bridge in the USA, clichés that crossover from human story-telling to the world of our evolving Darwinian predecessors, role reversals on captivity and clinical trials, and the end of this eighth instalment laying the ground for the ninth movie in the 46-year-old science fiction franchise, based on a French novel, by Pierre Boulle—that&rsq...

Daawat-e-Ishq, First look

Invitation to a first look Saturday evening, four days after my return from Singapore. A call on my mobile phone. Some young woman said she was calling from Spice Bhasha. No, not a restaurant chain nor a spice manufacturer, but the non-English focus public relations firm, Spice PR. Line was unclear, so I requested her to send the details of the event she was inviting me to by SMS. Nothing came till Sunday night. And then I got it. An ‘iftaar’ (meaning breaking of the 16-hour total...

CommunicAsia-BroadcastAsia 2014 was a block-buster, II

'Communicasia diary, Singapore, June 2014--A revisit 12 years later, to a block-buster event II: Changi-Marina Bay-Kallang Who do you blame for choosing a terribly timed flight? AI342 landed at Singapore’s Changi International Airport at about 7.30 am. I had reported at Sahar at 7 pm. No, the distance between Mumbai and Singapore does not take 12 ½ hours to cover (it takes 5), but then this was not a direct flight. Including the stop at Chennai, it took 10 hours. Add to that t...

Review of the film Wadjda

Wadjda A title that reminds us of the great Polish film-maker (Wajda), a subject that revolves around a bicycle (Italian master De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves comes to mind) and a director whose first name is the same as the name of a Middle-eastern city! The name Wadjda is pronounced Wajda or Wajida by most persons who live in the Indian sub-continent. Woman director Haifaa Al-Mansour’s debut feature, the first film to be shot entirely in Saudi Arabia and the first ever made there by ...

CommunicAsia-BroadcastAsia 2014 was a block-buster, I

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Communicasia diary, Singapore, June 2014--A revisit 12 years later, to a block-buster event I: Prologue Films, television, radio, internet, mobile phones, satellites…Communicasia has a wide ambit. Twelve years ago, I visited the exhibition in its earlier Broadcast Asia avtaar at Singapore’s quite new Expo centre near the Changi airport, while I was based in that country. It was big even then. Attractive staff at the booths led you on to explore the products and technology on offer...

Grace of Monaco, Review

Grace of Monaco Where would you hope to find the Prince of Monaco, the Oscar-winning actress Grace Kelly, Charles de Gaulle, Robert McNamara (former US Defense Secretary), Maria Callas (legendary opera singer), Alfred Hitchcock and Aristotle Onassis (Greek business tycoon) on the same page? In a fictionalised biopic called Grace of Monaco. Perhaps too fictionalised, according to some. Writer Arash Amel (who earlier wrote The Expatriate, 2012), on being accused of taking too many liberties wi...

How to Train Your Dragon: 2, Review

How to Train Your Dragon: 2 “Life here is amazing. Dragons used to be a bit of a problem, but now they've all moved in,” goes the voice-over in the beginning of How to Train Your Dragon: 2. It is a 102-minute sequel to HTTYD 1 (2010), which was directed by Dean Deblois and Chris Sanders, the Lilo & Stitch (2002) duo. Part 2 is directed by Deblois, solo. It's been five years since Hiccup (now 20) and his dragon Toothless successfully united dragons and Vikings on the i...

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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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