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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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Peter Rabbit, Review: Fertile comedy

Peter Rabbit, Review: Fertile comedy Peter Rabbit is an irreverent, computer-generated (largely) animated comedy, based on a 125 year-old story that has been updated to present times. Most of the story undulates as a never-ending, recurring chase, and battle of wits, between the live action hero and the cartoon animals, in Tom and Jerry style. While it should appeal naturally to kids in the age-group of 3-12, some adult-ish content makes it more relevant to the 13-18 bracket. Adults, who are ...

A Quiet Place, Review: Silence is Golden

A Quiet Place, Review: Silence is Golden In 2017, the world undergoes lockdown as blind monsters search for victims by sound. The few survivors of an unknown attack in New York appear as the Abbott family, who are visiting a supermarket, while maintaining total silence. The family is mourning the death of Beau, a victim to the monsters a year earlier. Back home, following several prior encounters, the monsters become aware of the family’s presence while Lee Abbott develops a sound-proo...

NSD’s Theatre Olympics continue, with classic French playwright Molière’s Tartuffe

NSD’s Theatre Olympics continue, with classic French playwright Molière’s Tartuffe National School of Drama, New Delhi, an autonomous institution under Ministry of Culture, Government of India, is currently organising the 8th Theatre Olympics all over India. We, in Mumbai, are witnessing plays from India and overseas, staged at two venues, both in central Mumbai. With free entry, the Olympics are a treat for connoisseurs of drama, both traditional and modern. Mumbai is hos...

Baaghi 2, Review: Do we still need an army?

Baaghi 2, Review: Do we still need an army? He’s an army-man and he’s angry, first at the stone-pelters in Kashmir, and then at the drug-peddlers in Goa. In the former case, he has a bee in his bonnet. Rather, he ties a local to the bonnet on his Jeep, using him as a human shield, and drives through, teaching the militants a lesson. This earns a serious reprimand from his superior officers and a strenuous survival punishment as well. In the latter case, he conducts a master class ...

Director Ashutosh Gowariker, actor Vikram Gokhale flag-off 8th Theatre Olympics in Mumbai

Director Ashutosh Gowariker, actor Vikram Gokhale flag-off 8th Theatre Olympics in Mumbai Taking forward its long association with the world of drama, the city inaugurated the 8th Theatre Olympics, a fortnight-long international theatre festival, organised by the National School of Drama (NSD), New Delhi, on 24th March. Eminent film and theatre actor Vikram Gokhale, and reputed film-maker Ashutosh Gowarikar inaugurated the festival, at a function held at the prestigious Nehru Centre, that was...

Farouque Shaikh: Memories and musings on his 70th birth anniversary

Farouque Shaikh: Memories and musings on his 70th birth anniversary My earliest memories of the fresh and confident Farouque date back to the time when he was a senior at the elitist St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai, and I was a junior at the then humble National College, circa 1970-72. Among his contemporaries were Shabana Azmi, Satish Shah (Farouque was rather close to Satish), Pankaj Udhas, Anuradha (Paudwal) and Sharada (Kavita) Krishnamurthy, all celebrities in waiting. The college had...

Hichki, Review: Hitch key

Hichki, Review: Hitch key Protagonist Rani Mukerji plays a spunky woman with Tourette Syndrome*, who sets her mind on teaching as a profession. Rather ambitious, considering she bursts into tics, making funny, bark-like noises every 30 seconds or so. It is inspired by the life of American Brad Cohen, probably the most famous person with Tourette Syndrome. With no real stars, this come-back vehicle of actress Rani Mukerji, who took a break for about four years, post marriage to the Yash Raj Fi...

Baa Baaa Black Sheep, Review: Wolf in sheep’s clothing

Baa Baaa Black Sheep, Review: Wolf in sheep’s clothing Director Vishwas Paandya is not serious. A confessional in the beginning dedicates Baa Baaa Black Sheep to the films he grew up on. He’s also asked his partner in crime (it’s a crime story), writer Sunjiv Puri, to strictly follow his brief. So, when the film was launched, in early 2015, they were probably referencing films of the 1980s-1990s. One character is named Charlie, in a tribute to the legendary comedian, who rul...

The Strangers--Prey at Night, Review: “Why kill strangers?” “Why not?”

The Strangers--Prey at Night, Review: “Why kill strangers?” “Why not?” They last preyed on innocents in 2008. Since then, families must have been praying that they do not return. No such luck. A sequel was taking shape since 2012, and Prey at Night saw light of day in 2018. Writer-director of the original, Bryan Bertino is only a co-writer this time round, the three murderers are the same, and so is the quest for Tamara. The rest is new. Is unmotivated mayhem and psych...

The Past coming to haunt you

The Past coming to haunt you The Past is a terrifying horror story that has been shot in an actually ‘haunted’ location. The film stars Vedita Pratap Singh, Yuvraj Parasher, Rajesh Sharma, Samiksha Bhatt, Jaya Villey and Soniya Albizuri, in pivotal roles. It is directed By Gagan Puri  and produced by Peacock Motion Filmz, an Indian film studio founded by Jaspal Singh and Nitesh Kumar. Gagan Puri has over eight years of experience in Hindi Cinema, and is also the writer of...

Raja Abroadiya, Review: Staying home is a better option

Raja Abroadiya, Review: Staying home is a better option Both for the lead characters in the film, and potential viewers. If the film-makers had been warned in time to stay home themselves, the viewers would not have had to be given this warning of staying home, and would have been spared a film that has almost nothing to offer, the Miss India and Miss Diva connections of the two lead actresses notwithstanding. Okay, so there must be some audiences who like over the top buffoonery and will wat...

7 Days in Entebbe/Entebbe, Review: Week plot

7 Days in Entebbe/Entebbe, Review: Week plot In the cast are the President of Uganda and Prime Minister of Israel, Defence Minister of Israel as well as several Israeli Prime Ministers-to-be. The plot consists of the most daring rescue operation, called Thunderbolt, violating the international border of a friendly country, aerospace as well as land trespass. Indeed, some might even say that it was the Israelis who taught the Western powers how to attack the enemy by air and on land, wherever ...

Irrfan Khan, Naseeruddin Shah and Om Puri’s Alma Mater, NSD’s Theatre Olympics

Irrfan Khan, Naseeruddin Shah and Om Puri’s Alma Mater, NSD’s Theatre Olympics India’s National School of Drama (NSD) has produced many a luminary in the field of film and television, both in front of and behind the camera. An autonomous institution under Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India, it is located in New Delhi. The first batch of students came in 1961. Since then, between 10 and 33 students pass out every year. NSD is now holding its 8th Theatre Olympics in Mumbai, ...

Gringo, Review: Enough of Judas! What about Peter?

Gringo, Review: Enough of Judas! What about Peter? “Which is the best Beatles album?” asks the man with the gun. If your answer is ‘Sergeant Pepper and the Lonely Hearts’ Club’, you die. If you do not like the Beatles or have outgrown them, he will still kill you. Your only hope is...‘Let It Be’! Get it right and he might either let you off, or just settle for chopping your finger off. That is Gringo, a slightly confused and wayward take on an Americ...

Raid, Review: Concealing ceiling

Raid, Review: Concealing ceiling Let us warn you in advance that this film is not about an army raid or a guerrilla foray into another country. ‘Raid’ here refers to an operation launched by an Income Tax (the original ‘IT’) official, with the help of his co-workers and the police, to unearth wealth that has not been accounted for and stowed away as ‘black’ assets, evading income tax, by a legislator. Based on a true story, and set in 1981, the movie has ju...

Rani Mukerji plays Brad Cohen in biopic Hichki, about living with Tourette Syndrome

Rani Mukerji plays Brad Cohen in biopic Hichki, about living with Tourette Syndrome Front of the Class, a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie shown on CBS in 2008, was viewed by over 12 million people. The movie is based on the true story of Brad Cohen, a young man diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome, who defies the odds, to become a teacher. Ten years later, it is coming to Indian screens as Hichki (hiccup), releasing on March 23, and a probable audience of 120 million or more. The earlier date announc...

FICCI FRAMES 2018, VIII: Glitches and beeps

FICCI FRAMES 2018, VIII: Glitches and beeps It’s an age-old catch 22 situation: An event needs coverage, and a journalist needs events to cover. Symbiosis is the name of the game. In the given equation, a big event or a big media house may prove equal to each other, but an unequal arrangement—big event, small journalist; small event, big journalist--usually leads to bitterness. What confounds the issue is the playing of favourites: certain event organisers inviting only certain me...

FICCI FRAMES, VII: India’s filmed entertainment sector, 2016-2020E

FICCI FRAMES, VII: India’s filmed entertainment sector, 2016-2020E EY--Re-imagining India's M&E sector; Ernst and Young  Report, released 04 March, 2018, at FICCI FRAMES 18, Grand Hyatt Hotel, Mumbai Most multilateral agencies see India grow above 7% in the medium-term. While the World Bank forecasts India to grow by 7.5% in both 2019 and 2020, IMF forecasts suggest the growth rate to be 7.4% in FY19 and further increase to 7.8% in FY201. The M&E sector grows with the ...

FICCI Frames 18, VI: Master Class by master director R. Balki

FICCI Frames 18, VI: Master Class by master director R. Balki Ace ad film maker turned ace feature film director, R. Balki, chatted with senior TV journalist Anuradha Sengupta in a Master Class on the broad convention theme of Re-Imagining India’s Media & Entertainment Sector, at FICCI Frames 18, on the second working day of the three-day international convention. Balki has made two of his most successful films with India’s longest reigning superstar, Amitabh Bachchan, in the ...

FICCI-FRAMES 18, V: Keynote address of Mr. Sudhanshu Vats, Group CEO, Viacom 18

FICCI-FRAMES 18, V: Keynote address of Mr. Sudhanshu Vats, Group CEO, Viacom 18 After Sunday evening’s inaugural, where Ms. Smriti Irani, India’s Federal (Union) Minister for Information and Broadcasting & Textiles, was in an Q & A with one of India's biggest film personalities, producer-director-actor Karan Johar, Sudhanshu Vats, Group CEO, Viacom18, a leading TV and film company, started the day’s proceedings on the first functional day at the three-day Convent...

Shashi Kapoors don’t die: Part II

Shashi Kapoors don’t die: Part II The second and concluding part of a personal tribute to the great man. It has not come soon, as you might have expected. My apologies. Too much was happening. But here we are, talking about a good actor and a great human being. Shashi Kapoor still lives. In his day, was a star. And like many in the media, he loved good music. So, my friends and I were not really surprised to spot him leaving the hall after a Runa Laila live performance at Birla Matush...

Red Sparrow, Review: Spread-eagled

Red Sparrow, Review: Spread-eagled Think of an American film that is 158 minutes long--probably 150 minutes in a country like India, which has a reasonably strict censorship regime—and then read the following lines, found on the 20th Century Fox website, “As for the filming of the scenes and working with her Hunger Games director Francis Lawrence, she (Jennifer Lawrence) added: We talked about it extensively, which was really important for showing up on the day and there being no ...

The Valley, Review: A suicide, a steep cliff, the sea and a gun

The Valley, Review: A suicide, a steep cliff, the sea and a gun Silicon it is. And IT. The Valley story is told from the perspective of an Indian family. It is placed in the present, or the not too distant past. The Valley follows the slice of life, realistic style of narration and strikes a chord frequently. In English, it features Indian, Pakistani and American actors, with only one easily identifiable name that Indians will relate too. Yet, it is recommended viewing. The film retraces eve...

Ice, Review: Life v/s ice, too much too late

Ice, Review: Life v/s ice, too much too late Melancholia guaranteed, but so is good cinema. Ice is a 15-minute Estonian film that has been shown at 28 film festivals so far (correction: 35; update provided by Anna Hints), and won four (five, she says)  prizes too. Harri is a lieutenant colonel in the Estonian army. Divorced, he only sees his ten-year-old son during the school holidays. Harri decides to make up for lost time and take him on a trip to an island where he went with his fath...

MIFF 2018, XIII: Ivan Leonodovich Maximov: Bizarre, darkly humorous

MIFF 2018, XIII: Ivan Leonodovich Maximov: Bizarre, darkly humorous Ivan Maximov (sometimes spelt Maksimov), is a Producer, Screenwriter, Artist, Animator and Teacher from Russia. Maximov was born in Moscow in 1958 and studied at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (1976-82), following it up with a workshop course in cinema, under directors and screenwriters, like A.Yu. Khrzhanovsky and V.M. Ugarova. At the beginning of his creative career, Ivan worked as an illustrator in various...

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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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