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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 Hobbit—Battle of the Five Armies, Review: 5 times the fight fest, in 4DX and 3D

The Hobbit—Battle of the Five Armies, Review: 5 times the fight fest, in 4DX and 3D *So snow comes after fire, and even dragons have their endings. *Where there's life there's hope. ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit The film opens where The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug left off: the dragon is on his way to attack the town of Esgaroth on the lake. People flee in terror, while Bard the Bowman struggles to escape from prison in order to help fight the dragon. the dwarf king Tho...

The Babadook, Review: Spook or self-help book?

The Babadook, Review: Spook or self-help book? It’s a ghoulish game! It’s a bed-time horror story! It’s a horrific riddle! It’s Babadook! It’s a self-help book! Not to be confused with Indian/Middle Eastern mystics/sufis/sadhus who go around under the nomenclature of Baba, or (prodigious?) male babies who are affectionately so called, Babadook uses the horror genre to try and conquer the demons within. But heaven help her if any single mother has to take the Baba...

Jessabelle, Review: Voodoo in the Bayou

Jessabelle, Review: Voodoo in the Bayou Jessabelle, co-incidentally similar in its title and name of its central character to another recent horror film, Annabelle, follows the time-tested setting of a country house surrounded by a lake (bayou, in this case) and woods, where a solitary woman faces demons that have a bone to pick with her, and with her kith and kin. It has a great-looking heroine with a starry presence, but a plot that is almost absent for 3/4ths of the film, convoluted when i...

Badlapur Boys, Review: Noble cause, familiar ploys

Badlapur Boys, Review: Noble cause, familiar ploys After films about cricket, hockey and football, here comes one about the indigenous game called ‘kabaddi’. The Badlapur Boys (BB) is named in the tradition of league games, getting popular in the India of the 2000s. A group of kabaddi hobbyists try to seize the opportunity to bring fame to the remote village in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh by participating in a kabaddi tournament and hoping to win against top-ranked ...

IFFI Goa 2014, Festival Diary, Part III

       IFFI Goa 2014, Festival Diary, Part III A bit of luck meant that I got a room at Hotel Neptune Deluxe at an affordable rate. My room was on the fourth floor, and, for an inexplicable reason, the lift only serviced floors 2 to 4, in the five storey building, where only floors 3 and 4 were occupied by the hotel. A staff-boy helped me carry my luggage till the second floor, and I settled in Room 116. The number has significance for film-buffs, for Secret Agent 116 featu...

Badlapur Boys is a film about an old team-game, set against the water crisis in rural India

Badlapur Boys is a film about an old team-game, set against the water crisis in rural India Synopsis ‘Kabaddi’ is a contact sport, born in ancient India, and has since gained popularity in the international sports arena as the only game that requires a strong combination of ‘knowledge’, ‘concentration’, ‘strength’, ‘stamina’, and ‘combat skills’. Our honest attempt has been to revive the spirit of the game, in the film, ...

Bhopal--A Prayer for Rain, Review: In vain

 Bhopal--A Prayer for Rain, Review: In vain Mass deaths and long-term disabilities, going into the next generation as well, due to poisonous gas leak from the Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal 30 years ago constituted the worst industrial disaster in history. It also led to bitter wrangling over liability, compensation and rehabilitation, amid accusations of sell-outs and cover-ups. Warren Anderson, the head of the American company, was largely perceived as the man responsible for th...

Exodus-Gods and Kings, Review: Wrath and bloodbath

Exodus-Gods and Kings, Review: Wrath and bloodbath Exodus is the name of a long novel by Leon Uris, published in 1958, about the establishing of the modern state of Israel, and set in 1947, but this film goes back some 2300 years, to THE Exodus. It was to be titled just Exodus, but the copyright to the name was already taken, so the ‘Gods and Kings’ sub-title had to be added. Exodus-Gods and Kings is an epic on the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt 300-400 years before Chris...

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...

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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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