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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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MFF 21, 02: Fernando Meirelles to get Excellence in Cinema Award

MFF 21, 02: Fernando Meirelles to get Excellence in Cinema Award "My deepest thanks to MAMI and the Mumbai Film Festival for this honour. As a director who makes his home on the opposite side of the world from where this festival takes place, I am humbly reminded that cinema is the perfect conduit for people to recognise and celebrate our shared humanity. I have strived to convey in my films an understanding between people who do not seem to have anything in common. To show that we have...

Deepika Padukone in MFF 21 Movie Mela: Pre-festival feast of conversations with stars, directors

Deepika Padukone in MFF 21 Movie Mela: Pre-festival feast of conversations with stars, directors For the last few years, Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI) has been holding Movie Mela as a forerunner to the Mumbai Film Festival (MFF). They skipped it last year because some of the likely male panellists were facing groping and molestation charges, but it came back this year with renewed vigour. Mela is Hindi/Urdu for feast/carnival. It is held in the shape of interviews/interactions between...

Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival with Star begins on the 17th of October

Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival with Star begins on the 17th of October The platform announced its stellar film and talent line-up for the upcoming edition at a press conference held at JW Marriott, Juhu, on 30 September. The below report is based on their press release, as this correspondent was not invited to the event, which was attended by MAMI Board of Trustees: Zoya Akhtar, Vishal Bhardwaj, Siddharth Roy-Kapur, Rohan Sippy, Ajay Bijli, along with Festival Director Anupama Chopra, and Arti...

Gemini Man, Review: Clone arranger

Gemini Man, Review: Clone arranger Ang Lee directed this poor man’s James Bondage? The man who made Eat Drink Man Woman, Sense and Sensibility, Crouching Tiger--Hidden Dragon, Brokeback Mountain and Life of Pi? No, this is the Ang Lee who made Hulk, which earned twice its cost. A VFX delight, Gemini Man is about a clone on a mission to kill a man who is a professional killer, and is also the man he was cloned from. The movie disappoints, with a below par screenplay, and few impressive d...

Diego Maradona, Review: Feet of gold, hand of God

Diego Maradona, Review: Feet of gold, hand of God Amy got him the Academy Award. Senna got him the BAFTA. And now, Diego Maradona has raked in £ 2.2 mn, since its release in June, which is a welcome collection for any docu-feature. Asif Kapadia has now won three matches in a row. And by convincing margins, at that. By definition, a documentary appeals to niche audiences only. Though football is the most popular team sport in the world, it is not the numero uno sport in India, unlike Ar...

My friend, Vijoo

My friend, Vijoo Of his reported 440 film count, I shared screen space with the late Vijoo Khote in only two. Yet, I could call myself his friend. During the 1970s and 80s, the refrain I often heard from producers and directors whom I approached for acting assignments was, “You are an educated man. Why are you pursuing a career meant for ‘good-for-nothing-else’ types?” Obviously, I saw no merit in this facetious argument. Nevertheless, in an active career of 26 years, ...

Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy, Review: Per capita

Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy, Review: Per capita “This Gandhi Jayanti, India unites to fight,” declares a large card on the trailer of Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy. Mohandas Karamchand ‘Mahatma’ Gandhi (born 02 October 1869) was the father of the nation and an apostle of peace and non-violence. ‘Jayanti’(in Hindi) refers to his 150th birth anniversary, which is being celebrated with many campaigns across the country, like  voluntary service to society, cleanline...

10th Jagran Film Festival, Mumbai-I: Sweet and sour, like the candy of the sponsor

10th Jagran Film Festival, Mumbai-I: Sweet and sour, like the candy of the sponsor Accreditation as a media-person was not a problem, this year, probably due to the intervention of the Principal Correspondent of Jagran, Ms. Smita Srivastava. Jagran is a media major, and this was the tenth Jagran Film Festival (JFF) they held across India, culminating at Mumbai. It was a short festival, lasting just four days, with screenings and sessions at the four auditoria of Cinépolis (once known a...

IPTA’s 48th ICDC: Testament to teenage talent

IPTA’s 48th ICDC: Testament to teenage talent An inter-collegiate short Hindustani (Hindi/Urdu) drama competition (ICDC), introduced by the Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA) 47 years ago, has captured the imagination of budding talent in Mumbai’s colleges. It was this contest that has given us actors like Aamir Khan, Kunal Khemu, Neha Sharad, Channa Ruparel and Deven Bhojani. The 48th edition took place, as usual, in September, attracting 23 entries from local educa...

Hustlers, Review: Hurt people hurt people, butt naturally

  Very few films showcase so much of the female anatomy for so much screen time, with the barest possible ‘coverage’, while highlighting the lives and life-styles of pole/lap-dancers/strippers. Hustlers does all that and adds a new twist to the scenario by adding a hustle to their bustle trade, drugging, conning and blackmailing their clients, to rip off thousands of dollars from their credit cards. It’s a dirty game, played with one-sided rules, providing some vicarious ...

Prassthanam, Review: Loyalty, integrity and legacy, to see or not to see, that is the question

Prassthanam, Review: Loyalty, integrity and legacy, to see or not to see, that is the question When you have classics like the Mahabharat, Ramayan and Shakespeare’s works, why look elsewhere for inspiration? Update the setting and references but retain the blood and gore, conceit and deceit, loyalty and betrayal, vice and avarice, and above all, good and evil. You now have a story that every lover of mythology, every cinephile identifies with, and the figure could be well above a billio...

The Zoya Factor, Review: Cricket superstitions, and bowling a ‘maiden’ over

The Zoya Factor, Review: Cricket superstitions, and bowling a ‘maiden’ over It’s a romantic comedy about cricket, superstition and finding your soulmate after several heart-breaks. Strange bedfellows? Not if you know your cricket, appreciate the quirky beliefs of cricketers and can empathise with a woman who has been dumped several times, yet dreams of finding Mr. Right very soon. All three angles are developed substantially, yet something is missing. Perhaps, unlike all the...

Rambo-Last Blood: Rambo No. 5

Rambo-Last Blood: Rambo No. 5 On its last legs, rather last leg, the Rambo series takes one last shot at the franchise, extending its title from the 1982 sample, First Blood. Nobody can quarrel with this confessional finality of the moniker of Last Blood, which could not but be the last poke of the syringe, or a last bow to the bow, in a subject that has already drained itself out, and badly needed a transfusion to save itself. If Last Blood is that transfusion, it is contaminated, for it is ...

The Family Man: Say Hi, to the middle-class guy, who’s a world class spy

The Family Man: Say Hi, to the middle-class guy, who’s a world class spy National award winner for acting (films) and Padma Shri (civilian honour) awardee Manoj Bajpayee (Satya, Gangs of Wasseypur-1, Bhonsle) makes his digital debut in the eagerly anticipated Amazon Original series, The Family Man, which releases 20 September on Amazon Prime Video. Created by producer-director duo of Raj & DK (Raj Nidimoru & Krishna DK; Shor in the City, Happy Ending, Stree), The Family Man wil...

Dream Girl, Review: Lady Boy’s multiple nightmares

Dream Girl, Review: Lady Boy’s multiple nightmares Can one accuse film-makers of misleading audiences by describing their films as anything but what they really are? Dream Girl, dubbed ‘family entertainer by its makers,’ panders to below the belt viewers and frustrated loners, under the garb of showcasing the lead actor’s mimicking talent, and providing a telephonic helpline to lonely hearts. It is a series of stand-up comic jokes, with one-liners, puns and double ente...

Badshaah Pahelwan, Review: There’s a brown wrestler in the boxing ring, tra la la la la

Badshaah Pahelwan, Review: There’s a brown wrestler in the boxing ring, tra la la la la When director of photography S. Krishna turned producer just over two years ago, vicariously, through his wife, Swapna, having directed two action genre films, he decided to make his third film in nine Indian languages. Down the line, he settled for five, with the original in his native Kannada, and dubbed versions in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam. Rather ambitious of Krishna, considering the fi...

Chhichhore, Review: Posers for losers, choosers and imposers

Chhichhore, Review: Posers for losers, choosers and imposers Few ideas would be more contradictory than a parent’s attempt to revive his dying son by calling his college mates to the Intensive Care Unit of a posh hospital and collectively narrating to him, in some detail, their recollections of the hellcyon days they spent in a college hostel, as a bunch of slimy, gooey, swearing, cheating, boozing, smoking, rude, flippant, frivolous ‘losers’. All this is done in the hope th...

Saaho, Review: Posture Boys

Saaho, Review: Posture Boys Grand emptiness fills the screen as the Saaho saga unfolds. There is a semblance of a plot and a picture post-card collage of both serene and breath-taking visuals. However, most unfortunately, the most crucial element of a well-crafted film, story-telling, is at a discount. Gory and one-sided fights, a floating, free-falling and soaring mortal superhero, and flesh flaunting femme fatales cannot compensate for flimsy premises and disbelief inviting sequences. Prit...

47 Meters Down-Uncaged, Review: Shallow Attempt at Hollow Horror

This underwater horror-survival movie takes its cameras and main cast down 47 meters (going by the title) and discovers a Mayan labyrinth of caves and cages. When one cage is broken open, out come deadly sharks. Oh, they are as blind as dead bats, but as hungry as whale-sized ravens. Why did four teenage girls venture into uncharted oceanic depths, and will any of them re-surface alive? To find out, you will have to endure some amateurish story-telling and some cyclical, repetitive scares. Mi...

Bhonsle, Review: Cinema of no escape

A maker with a penchant for addressing social and sociological malaises tries his hand at the intra-nation village/small town to big city trans-migration issue in India, as seen through three different angles, by inhabitants of a Mumbai chawl (shanty/slum). Though Bhonsle is largely realistic cinema, Devashish Makhija, nevertheless, bends his treatment occasionally, to use tropes to move the story forward. The result is an above average film that has enough merit to be watchable on its own, bu...

Angry Birds Movie 2, Review: And angry birdwatchers 2

Angry Birds Movie 2, Review: And angry birdwatchers 2 To even begin getting lightly entertained, you will have to sit through the first twenty minutes of Angry Birds Movie 2, which are a cacophonic assault on your senses. During this testing time, you are served a machine-gun fire recap and a kind of general introduction to the birds and pigs that are going to play out a tale of spurned birdy love and its calamitous consequences. Proceedings do get more and more tolerable, and offer a modicum...

Angel Has Fallen, Review: Dad’s Bad, Banning’s Mad, Jennings’s Glad

Angel Has Fallen, Review: Dad’s Bad, Banning’s Mad, Jennings’s Glad Angel here is the guardian angel of the President of the United States of America, and fallen refers to his being critically wounded and, allegedly, falling from grace. So much for ethereal and angelic interpretations of the title. Now, the subject: it is a run-of-the-mill ‘cop injured in attempt to murder a VVIP that kills all others except him, falsely accused of attempted murder, discredited, arrest...

Crawl, Review: Alligator…will it get her?

Crawl, Review: Alligator…will it get her? If you were to consider making a film about a creature that has equally or more lethal Jaws than sharks, you would have little problem coming up with the alligator. In fact, it is a more dangerous and slimy looking being than the shark. An alligator’s jaw exerts 1,342 kg of pressure, giving it the most powerful bite ever recorded in a living animal. It can swim at 32.18km/hr, faster than the Olympic record. And the fact that it is an amph...

Yomeddine, Review: Disability or this ability?

Yomeddine, Review: Disability or this ability? Unlikely companions embark on an impossible journey, to trace their roots, hundreds of miles away, on a donkey cart, with little money and barest of supplies. Both, the journey and the destination, hold many surprises for the two, some pleasant, some very unpleasant. On the way, they offer you a tribute to the indomitable human spirit, but also make you realise that in a society of regulars and normals, the irregular and abnormal cannot find thei...

Batla House, Review: Policeman with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Batla House, Review: Policeman with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Distinguishing one police thriller from another is becoming an increasingly difficult task. He is part of an incident/encounter that results in deaths of alleged criminals. The officer’s marital life is disrupted due to his erratic working hours and heavy post-traumatic stress. Having had enough, the wife threatens to leave him. The incident creates controversy and he runs afoul of the powers that be. Most of his higher-...

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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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