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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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Hope Aur Hum, Review: Hoping against hope

Hope Aur Hum, Review: Hoping against hope Small-budget indies with clean, wholesome, slice of life content, surface regularly, taking you through bittersweet emotions, sans villains and super-heroes, animation and SFX. You appreciate the effort and admire the commitment. Some go on to win awards and renew your faith in alternate cinema. Some others sink without a trace, unable to match market demands and not measuring up to narrative benchmarks. Still others entertain and engage, raise hopes ...

Raazi, Review: Lying and spying, willing and killing

Raazi, Review: Lying and spying, willing and killing As spy thrillers go, Raazi is, at best, average fare. During the first half, it runs the risk of becoming a pedestrian assemblage of trope followed by trope followed by trope. Then, just in time, the writers and the director took booster shots and shaped out the human dilemma, counterpoising it with murder and mayhem. In scale and mounting, Raazi can pass off as a modest Spielberg vehicle, but the total experience remains just about watchab...

The Past, Review: And this too shall pass

The Past, Review: And this too shall pass Tropes and stereo-tropes, by themselves, do not a horror film make. Yes, the appearing and disappearing humanoids, the moving and rising objects, the possession and dual pitch speech of the living visited by the dead, the exorcists who use religious symbols, etc., are all part of familiar horror genre. And The Past has all of these, in plenty. But to make an effective horror film, you need to either get the mix right or introduce new elements. The Pas...

Monster Hunt 2, Review: Monstrous, preposterous, Wubastrous

Monster Hunt 2, Review: Monstrous, preposterous, Wubastrous Three years ago, a HongKong-Chinese dubbed animation firm in 3D captured the imagination of audiences worldwide. In a mythical land where monsters and humans co-exist, a royal baby born to a mortal father and monster mother became the centre of an epic adventure. It is important to realise that the baby was carried in his ‘womb’ by his father, not his mother. In 2018, when the original is now a Netflix ‘Original&rsq...

Raavan ki Ramayan: Puneet Issar dominates like a colossus

Raavan ki Ramayan: Puneet Issar dominates like a colossus Coconut Theatre and The Films and Theatre Society, staged the play Raavan Ki Ramayan, in two-acts, in Mumbai, on the 5th of May. The venue, Bal Gandharv Rang Mandir, Bandra West, used to be a popular location for rehearsals, and even stagings, back in the 70s and 80s. A couple of years ago, it threw its doors open again to events and plays. The play was revived after one and a half-year with back to back shows, schedules at 5 and 8 pm....

The Bomb, Review: Leaves you ticking

The Bomb, Review: Leaves you ticking Special thanks go to Abhishek Bachchan for the end voice over, but till then, The Bomb is an effortless enactment of a slice of life in the wretched existence of actor Inaamulhaq, a National School of Drama graduate (Filmistaan, Airlift, Jolly LLB 2) who is still waiting for his big break. Haq plays a lower class slum-dweller with a sick son and no job for eight years. The three survive on the salary of his wife (Seema Vats), who works as a maid. Poverty ...

102 Not Out, Review: One run short

102 Not Out, Review: One run short In India, cricket is a religion and most filmgoers will need no explanation about the title of this movie. But for those who are unfamiliar with the game, in India and abroad, this is what the title means: when a batsman scores 102 runs, which is a major landmark, being two more than a hundred, and continues to play after reaching the milestone, he is said to be 102 not out. Now that you got the context, you need to be told that the film has nothing whatsoev...

MTV’s Date to Remember is an Ex Ex Ex rated show

MTV’s Date to Remember is an Ex Ex Ex rated show MTV has brought in a new love-based reality show titled ‘Date to Remember’. Nine male Contestants have participated, with their Girlfriends, but with a Twist. One Present and One Ex-Girlfriend will be there with each male contestant. The list is as follows: 1.       Rubdeet Singh with girlfriend Neel Mishra & ex-girlfriend Savina Savi 2.       Sikandar Khan with...

Omerta, Review: Omer talk

Omerta, Review: Omer talk Alright, Omar, of you insist. His full name is Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh. If you see the film, you will discover that he is a hardcore terrorist who indulged in at least one act of barbaric butchery as well. With a name like that, he has to be a Pakistani or Pakistani sympathiser. Omerta spans the canvas from Bosnia to the hijacking of an Indian Airlines’ plane to the Mumbai terror attacks. The film derives its title from the Italian term for a criminal code of ...

Daas Dev, Review: Devspeare

Daas Dev, Review: Devspeare Talking about the response generated by Hazaaron Khwahishen Aisi at the International Film Festival of India, Goa, director Sudhir Mishra had told me that all praise was welcome, but he felt a great sense of fulfillment when internationally acclaimed directors had appreciated his efforts. Hazaaron Khwahishen Aisi was liked by a lot of critics as well as a significant number of cineastes. For Sudhir’s sake, I hope that those he holds in esteem see merit in Daa...

Avengers-Infinity War, Review: Ashes to ashes, dust to dust

Avengers-Infinity War, Review: Ashes to ashes, dust to dust #Book of Common Burial Prayer, 1662: Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection to eternal life. #‘Ashes to ashes, funk to funky’ Artiste: David Bowie, Album: Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps), 1980. From all appearances, a large number of Marvel’s Avengers and their partners in common cause have become ashes by the time the film ends. Whether any of them will be Re...

Nanu ki Jaanu, Review: It’s a nu nu

Nanu ki Jaanu, Review: It’s a nu nu What can you make of this mishmash that is as puerile as its title? Whatever you make, it’s all a nu nu, or no no, to spell it right. Misguided, miswritten, misdirected and misacted, the film revels in flouting the basic tenets of mise en scène. If the Tamil/Telugu original of this remake was worth remaking, the makers of Nanu Ki Jaanu have done it great injustice, beginning with changing the profession of the protagonist from a violinist...

Truth or Dare, Review: How Dare you deny the Truth!

Truth or Dare, Review: How Dare you deny the Truth! When you begin with a premise that you horror film need not give rational, or at least credible, explanations, you are free to employ any suitable elements that scare and shock the audience. Truth or Dare uses come of these props effectively, but the sheer predictability of the sequence of deaths makes it less worthwhile. Yes, the lead-ups to the grotesque ‘murders’ are imaginatively devised, not so the preceding contortions and...

R. Lee Ermey: Off to the last frontier

R. Lee Ermey: Off to the last frontier Ronald Lee Ermey, Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, in Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket, passed away on 15 April aged 74. Listed as R. Lee Emery in his film and TV appearances, his pet name was Gunny. Gunny’s roar, "What is your major malfunction, numbnut?"remains an iconic line, 30 years later. The performance made him a Globe Best Supporting Actor nominee, and Boston Society of Film Critics Award Winner, for Best Supporting Actor. B...

Milos Forman: Milostones

Milos Forman: Milostones News has just come in that Milos Forman has passed away at 86. He leaves behind a legacy of superlative work, in a career that spanned more than six decades. Born on 18 Feb 1932 at Cáslav, Czechoslovakia, Milos was the son of a Jewish Professor of Education and a Protestant mother. World War II saw both of them working for a resistance group. Caught, they were sent to Nazi concentration camps, from where they never returned. Milos was orphaned at eight, and wa...

Farooque Sheikh: Memories and Musings on his 70th birth anniversary-II

@ Farooque Sheikh: Memories and Musings on his 70th birth anniversary-II Ramesh Talwar on Farooque Shaikh Director Ramesh Talwar, who directed films (Doosara Aadmi, Sahiban, +5) and plays (Apan To Bhai Aise Hain, Darinde and many, many more), directed Farooque when he was still a student at Xavier’s. Talwar had studied at Khalsa College but had already earned a reputation as a man of great merit. Farooque invited him to direct Dekh Kabira Roya (about one boy and three girls) and Mirza S...

October, Review: Shoojit and the Shirker

October, Review: Shoojit and the Shirker Names have great significance in director Shoojit Sircar’s October. The month symbolises the blooming and autumn fall season of the night jasmine/coral jasmine flower, known in Bengali as Shiuli. Shiuli is also the name of his heroine, though she is Tamilian, Shiuli Iyer, but because Shiuli was so fond of the flower, they name her after it. Her mother is a lecturer and is called Vidya, meaning education. His protagonist is called Dan until three ...

Exclusive interview with Aneek Chaudhuri, director of off-beat films Streer Potro and White

Exclusive interview with Aneek Chaudhuri, director of off-beat films Streer Potro and White *Tell us about the themes/central ideas of your two feature films, The Wife’s Letter (Streer Potro, in Bengali) and White (no dialogue). Aneek: The Wife's letter is based on an abstract theme where mathematics has been related to emotions, inspired by the surrealist form of Dali and simplistic form of Tagore. White is based on sexual assaults on women and has a universal relevance. *You hav...

Mercury, Review: The evil that corporates do kills after them*

Mercury, Review: The evil that corporates do kills after them* No, not the planet, but the element. Like lead, mercury poisoning can cause permanent damage to the human body. The movie, Mercury, begins when the damage is long done and the factory that caused it is shut and abandoned. However, the after-effects are about to wreak havoc on five deaf-mute friends, and one blind man will extort vengeance of the most brutal kind. Made without dialogue, Mercury has a soundtrack that ranges from cac...

Curtain falls on NSD’s historic Theatre Olympics after 16-day Mumbai marathon

Prof. Waman Kendre and Nawazuddin Siddiqui Curtain falls on NSD’s historic Theatre Olympics after 16-day Mumbai marathon Staggered across 17 cities, National School of Drama’s 8th Theatre Olympics came to an end after 16 continuous days of performances, seminars, master classes, interactions and street theatre shows. A glittering closing ceremony was held at the Kamgar Maidan, Elphinstone Road, Central Mumbai, not very far from the venues of the Olympics themselves. Among the lu...

A recap of the plays and theatrical performances at NSD’s 16 day Theatre Olympics, II

The Brink! A recap of the plays and theatrical performances at NSD’s 16 day Theatre Olympics, II DAY 14 COURT MARTIAL ​ ​ (Hindi)​ ​ Show:  Friday 6th April  - 4:30 PM at Ravindra Natya Mandir, Prabhadevi. Synopsis: Court Martial’s central character is Ram Chander, a jawan in the army. He has been accused of murdering one of his senior officers, Captain Verma, and injuring another, Captain B.D. Kapoor. When the play begins, Ram Chander is already in the court...

A recap of the plays and theatrical performances at NSD’s 16 day Theatre Olympics

Gazab Teri Ada A recap of the plays and theatrical performances at NSD’s 16 day Theatre Olympics DAY 1 MOHE PIYA A tale from the epic Mahabharata. Director: Waman Kendre, Director of the National School of Drama, organisers of the Theatre Olympics Group: Rangpeeth, Mumbai Language: Hindi Duration: 1 hour 30 mins. Rating: ****   DAY 2 MAIN HOON NA (IN TIME AND SPACE) A tale from the Mahabharata, about Lord Krishna. Director: Bharti Sharma Group: Kshitij, Delhi Languag...

Destiny, Review: Your vengeance, my luck

Destiny, Review: Your vengeance, my luck You might think that a film about vengeance would be bloody and gruesome. Destiny, about a jilted girl’s vengeance against her imagined prospective husband, has only a few drops of blood, and they come from the lover’s bleeding forehead, not caused by anything thrown at him but a result of tripping at a pizzeria’s entrance. It is more of a romantic comedy than a revenge story. Destiny is a cute, neat film that has a twist at the end, ...

Drishtti, Review: Reflections in a crystal ball

Drishtti, Review: Reflections in a crystal ball Mugdha Veira Godse, a popular model and Hindi film actor, has turned producer (co-producer, to be accurate) with the short film, Drishtti (stylised from Drishti, meaning vision) which is streaming on Hungama Play from 30 March. It is the story of a crystal ball gazer (Mugdha Godse) who has the gift of analysing personalities and traits, and predicting the future, albeit partially. A journalist called Naina comes to interview her. During the con...

Missing, Review: You aren’t missing anything

Missing, Review: You aren’t missing anything It’s a confessional title and admission of guilt, for there is a lot that is missing in this film, a credible plot to begin with. Crisp editing and some good performances cannot rescue Missing, a psychological thriller that isn’t. Like one character in the film, who takes everybody for a huge ride, the makers have decided to inflict the same punishment on the audience. The fact that persons of the calibre of Neeraj Pandey (directo...

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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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