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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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Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Review: Good, but not as Tarantino was, once upon a time

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Review: Good, but not as Tarantino was, once upon a time It is inspired by the murders of actress Sharon Tate and her friends at the hands of a hippy cult in 1969, only the film re-writes this historical fact. It is inspired by the super-hit spaghetti Westerns of the mid to late 60s, led by Italian director Sergio Leone, only he is never mentioned in the film. It is a satirical take on martial arts’ ‘God’ Bruce Lee, but takes an amazingly unfla...

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, Review: The spirit of Sarah Bellows, and the trauma of teenage fellows

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, Review: The spirit of Sarah Bellows, and the trauma of teenage fellows Though the voice-over insists that stories hurt and stories heal, and that if they are repeated very often, they become true, any amount of repetition will not succeed in making Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark seem anything like real. Hurt, it does, heal, I wonder! It’s a horror story, pure and simple, or, rather, neither very pure nor very simple. A 70 year-old mansion has its se...

Jabariya Jodi, Review: Scaring, paring and pairing

Jabariya Jodi, Review: Scaring, paring and pairing Imagine a country where dowry demands are the bane. Imagine a state in that country where the demands of families of educated and gainfully employed men of marriageable age range in the region of one to ten million bucks. Now imagine a gang that kidnaps such extortionist grooms and marries them off to the hapless women, at gunpoint, after giving them the treatment. Jodi, literally, means a ‘pair’ or ‘couple’, in Urdu a...

Dora and the Lost City of Gold, Review: Adorable Dora, the explora

Dora and the Lost City of Gold, Review: Adorable Dora, the explora Dora is shown first as a six-year old, living in the forest with her explorer parents, and then as a sixteen year-old, studying in high school. That is highly appropriate, because Dora and the Lost City of Gold has something for all those who are in the age-group of 6-16, and some more for the older folks, who have seen 17 or more summers. The film is largely driven by the actress playing Dora, who is simply scintillating. TV...

Khandaani Shafakhana, Review: Familial Clinic, Unfamiliar picnic

Khandaani Shafakhana, Review: Familial Clinic, Unfamiliar picnic A title like that would suggest a medical practice that has been in the business for generations and garnered a formidable reputation of efficacy in treatment. Khandaani Shafakhana (Urdu for Familial Clinic) is not about any such practice. The subject is sex, in general, and the distressing conditions of erectile dysfunction and lack of libido in particular. Okay, so they have a misleading title. You could overlook this fact if ...

Chase--No Mercy to Crime, Review: Robbing trains for electoral gains

Chase--No Mercy to Crime, Review: Robbing trains for electoral gains A taut crime thriller in the making, Chase: No Mercy to Crime proceeds at a languorous pace that is quickened only by some rapid cuts and jerky pans. It is based on true events that spanned two Indian states, and the criminals-police chase crossed into Nepal and Thailand too. But, unless the thrills are present and confined to the first few scenes, which I missed due to awful road traffic, the film ends up being a routine cr...

Ash is Purest White, Review: Never Love a Gangster

Ash is Purest White, Review: Never Love a Gangster Ash is Purest White is a tale of unrequited love that flows seamlessly along the backdrop of the socio-political upheavals in China, during 2001-18. It is an ode to old-fashioned love, set amidst gangsters and con-artistes, making two, revolutionary, and highly controversial, observations: gangster mobs are the last vestiges of loyalty and righteousness, and men are incapable of reciprocating women’s sublime love. Qiao (Zhao Tao) lives...

Family of Thakurganj, Review: Nannu, Munnu and nothing New, New

Family of Thakurganj, Review: Nannu, Munnu and nothing New, New Referencing dozens of mafia/gangster movies made in India and the West, Family of Thakurganj glorifies crime for the major part, gets into a conscientious hiccup and sermonising after the midway mark, and ends-up offering ‘crime kills crime’ as a solution against the rot of corruption that has set in the entire fabric of the Indian police/law/politics nexus. Except for a couple of twists in the plot, there is little t...

Jabariya Jodi, First look: Swinging infection

Jabariya Jodi, First look: Swinging infection Jodi, literally, means a pair, in Urdu and Hindi. It also refers to husband and wife. Jabar or jabr is force, and jabariya, by extension, means forced or forcibly formed. So, we now understand the title of the upcoming film Jabariya Jodi to mean ‘Forced Couple’. As indicated above, the inference here is that the husband and wife were forced into matrimony. Nothing earth-shaking about it, in a country where thousands of such marriages t...

The Lion King, Review: The Lions Sing

For a film production company that has been in the animation business for 90 years, and earned its initial popularity by creating Mickey Mouse, making a film, replete with state-of-the-art, photorealistic computer images of a host of animals and birds, has to be basic instinct. That it tells the story of lions, hyenas, vultures, and other creatures whose names one needs to look-up in Google, or Oxford or Cambridge or Merriam Webster dictionaries, that possess human instinct rather than animal ...

Super 30, Review: Inequality, equality and variable quality

Super 30, Review: Inequality, equality and variable quality Two basic tenets form the paradigm of Super 30: a real-life story about a nondescript do-gooder who is a super achiever must strike a chord with audiences, and, secondly, any tale of a low caste and poverty-stricken protagonist, sacrificing his lady love and filthy lucre for the cause of educating fellow under-privileged ‘untouchables’ in his society, will have them rooting for the unlikely hero. How these doctrines pan o...

ConnecTechAsia 2019, 10: Recap

ConnecTechAsia 2019, 10: Recap ConnecTechAsia, comprising BroadcastAsia, CommunicAsia and NXTAsia, wrapped-up on 20th June, drawing 38,000 attendees and 1,700 exhibitors, over two venues, Marina Bay Sands and Suntec City, Singapore. The event unfolded over three days of networking, announcements, thought leadership keynotes and discussions, showcases on the latest innovations and trends, including 5G, AI, IoT, Smart Cities, next-generation broadcasting and more. Highlights this year inclu...

Marudhar Express, Review: Chain reaction

Marudhar Express, Review: Chain reaction You might need to look-up the meaning of Marudhar, even if you are a native Hindi speaker. It refers to the Marwar area of Rajasthan, and the Express is a train that runs between Varanasi, in Uttar Pradesh, and Jodhpur (Rajasthan), touching Lucknow and Kanpur, the two biggest cities in UP, with Allahabad (now renamed PrayaagRaaj) being the third. Now, lest you begin to think that this film is a travelogue or that events take place on the said train, le...

Hume Tumse Pyar Kitna, Review: Limerence, belligerence and incoherence

Hume Tumse Pyar Kitna, Review: Limerence, belligerence and incoherence A clutch of songs, exquisitely picturised, with little or no lip sync, linked together by a skeletal story about obsessive love, came to Mumbai cinemas today under the title Hume Tumse Pyar Kitna (How Much Do I Love You). Taken from a hit number from the film Kudrat that was popular in the early 80s, the title of the film is appropriate, and the original song itself occurs several times in the film, on the radio, or as a ...

One Day Justice Delivered, Review: Perhaps, but not today

One Day Justice Delivered, Review: Perhaps, but not today A judge dispensing justice by extra-judicial means immediately after retirement is not a common theme in Hindi films, and the novelty is undeniable. Sadly, that is just about where the merits of this film rest. Actors ham, the script meanders, co-incidences abound, dialogue disappoints and the climactic twist is of no consequence. One Day Justice Delivered espouses a noble cause but does more disservice than service to it. Ranchi High...

Spider-man--Far From Home, Review: PP, HH, Ray, May, MJ, Ned, E.D.I.T.H., Nick and Beck

Spider-man--Far From Home, Review: PP, HH, Ray, May, MJ, Ned, E.D.I.T.H., Nick and Beck Can a pulsating teenage romance between a super-hero’s alter ego and a beautiful schoolmate over-ride inherent flaws in a film’s scripting and logic? Is the inability to go “aw..so cute!” every time you see an awkward boy mustering up the courage to approach his love interest, to utter the three magic words, a sign of aging and fossilisation? Is the need to look beyond the obvious, ...

Malaal, Review: Tragic love saga, with cause for introspection, and some regret

Malaal, Review: Tragic love saga, with cause for introspection, and some regret Sanjay Leela Bhansali, producer-director of many a box-office mojo-maker and purveyor of a certain kind of stylised cinema, picks a 2004 Tamil film and sets it in 1998, the year of Titanic, and his own Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. If you can take a hint, three in this case, you will know that this is going to be a romantic tale of a disparate couple, with a tragic ending. That he casts two debutants and asks another d...

ConnecTechAsia 2019, 09: Hughes JUPITER System Chosen by 5 Service Providers to Power Satellite Broadband Services throughout In

Previous reports: ConnectTechAsia  8 I 7 I 6 I 5 I 4 I 3 I 2 I 1    Hughes Network Systems, LLC (HUGHES), the global leader in broadband satellite networks and services, today announced that its JUPITER™ System platform has been selected by five service providers to help bridge the digital divide across Indonesia. The service providers--including Lintasarta,  Pasifik Satelit Nusantara (PSN), Te...

ConnecTechAsia 2019, 08: WarnerMedia chooses AsiaSat as strategic partner for HD channels distribution in Asia Pacific

ConnecTechAsia 2019, 08: WarnerMedia chooses AsiaSat as strategic partner for HD channels distribution in Asia Pacific Asia Satellite Telecommunications Company Limited (AsiaSat) has been selected by WarnerMedia as a strategic partner for distributing regional HD services of CNN International, Cartoon Network, Boomerang and Warner TV, as well as HBO HD in South Asia, via AsiaSat 7 in the Asia-Pacific. AsiaSat has been distributing a total of five WarnerMedia SD channels on AsiaSat 7 (previou...

ConnecTechAsia 2019, 07: Hoods Inc. Productions Powers its New Modern Media Operation with EditShare

ConnecTechAsia 2019, 07: Hoods Inc. Productions Powers its New Modern Media Operation with EditShare EditShare, a technology leader in intelligent scale-out storage, AQC and media management solutions, announced last month that Singapore-based Hoods Inc. Productions (Hoods Inc.) has designed its next-generation media operation around EditShare media solutions, putting XStream EFS scale-out shared storage, Flow production asset management and Ark archiving and backup at the core of its media p...

Shoplifters, Review: Only those who cannot study at home need to go to school

Shoplifters, Review: Only those cannot study at home need to go to school Through many decades, albeit once in a while, a Japanese film comes up in the rich tradition of Frank Capra, Vittorio De Sica, Satyajit Ray, Ritwick Ghatak, Mrinal Sen, and the better films of Hrishikesh Mukherjee. Back in the 30s, 40s and 50s, in the days of Yasujirō Ozu and Mikio Naruse, it was called neo-realistic cinema. Most of these films were made with non-star casts, on shoe-string budgets, had realistic styles...

The Promise of Heaven, Play review: The buffoon as philosopher

The Promise of Heaven, Play review: The buffoon as philosopher Viagra in heaven, virgins, virgin-swapping, deflowered virgins re-virginating, really long-lasting erections, homosexuality, masturbation with a prop, sexually stimulating deodorants…what is this play about? (Kashmiri/IS) Suicide bombers. Yes, you read that right. But it is equally about all of the above, and in good measure. Having restricted entry to adults, writer-director Kamlesh Acharya has a field day playing with the...

Aarohi, Review: Play about decadence, women’s empowerment and good v/s evil

Aarohi, Review: Play about decadence, women’s empowerment and good v/s evil A Kinkini Production, Aarohi had its premiere show on Saturday, 29th June, at St. Andrew's Auditorium, Bandra, Mumbai. It is an ode to the classical Indian dance form of kathak and its exponents, weaved into a narrative that brings in other societal evils into focus, like the maltreatment of women, equality of all citizens and moral values, like truth and honesty. During the 19th and 20th century, there was...

Amazon Prime Video launching all-new season of original series Comicstaan, unveils trailer

Amazon Prime Video launching all-new season of original series Comicstaan, unveils trailer Comicstaan becomes the first Indian Amazon Original to launch a second season, which comes as part of Prime Day 2019 celebrations. The first three episodes of the much-awaited second season of Comicstaan are set to release on July 12, 2019, followed by a weekly release, only on Prime Video. Ace comedians like Zakir Khan, Neeti Palta and Season 1 host, Sumukhi Suresh, join veteran judges Biswa Kaylan R...

Noblemen, Review: Merchant of menace

Noblemen, Review: Merchant of menace Children in a classy public school are preparing a play for Founders’ Day, and the work chosen for the occasion is William Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice. Our protagonist has been selected to play Bassanio, after an audition, and is waiting anxiously for the staging. His mother, a former Wing Commander, now confined to a wheel-chair, is likely to be cured in a short time, and hopes to attend her son’s big day, for the first time ever. O...

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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.


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