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Siraj Syed

Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for 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. 



Divergent, PREVIEW

Divergent, Preview

Divergent is an action-adventure film set in a not-too-distant world where people are divided into distinct factions, based on human virtues: Abnegation (selflessness), Amity (kindness), Candor (honesty), Dauntless (bravery), and Erudite (intelligence). Anyone who does not conform is banished to the city outskirts, as "factionless." A person who values all five virtues equally, and who has the ability to do so, is known as "Divergent." Beatrice ‘Tris’ Prior (Shailene Woodley) is a 16-year-old girl living in Chicago, whose world does not extend past her city. She is warned that she is a Divergent and will never fit into any one group. When she discovers a conspiracy by a faction leader (Kate Winslet) to destroy all Divergents, Tris must learn to trust in the mysterious Four (Theo James), and, together, they must find out what makes being Divergent so dangerous, before it's too late.

Tris Prior is played by Shailene Woodley

Originally born into Abnegation, Tris is idealistic, vulnerable, brave and compassionate. When faced with the biggest decision of her life, she struggles between choosing her family and her yearning desire to discover her true identity.

Tobias ‘Four’ Eaton is Theo James. Strong, mentally tough and emotionally guarded, Four is one of the leaders in the Dauntless faction with a mysterious past. As an instructor, Four becomes close to Tris and helps guide her during her initiation process.

Jeanine Matthews is the name of Kate Winslet’s character. Leader of the Erudite faction, Jeanine is cold, calculating, and wickedly manipulative. Despite her gifted intelligence, Jeanine's unscrupulous desire for absolute control poses a serious threat to the five factions.

Tori is Maggie Q. Tori is a member of the Dauntless faction. She administers Tris’ aptitude test and first discovers that Tris is Divergent. As she continues to provide Tris with advice, the two establish a bond that helps Tris throughout her journey

Eric is played by Jai Courtney. Eric is a tough, brutal leader in the Dauntless faction who becomes an early adversary to Tris.

Divergent is a novel by Veronica Roth, adapted for the screen by Vanessa Taylor (writer/producer, Game of Thrones) and Evan Daugherty (Snow White and the Huntsman).

Veronica Anne Roth


25 year-old prodigy Veronica Roth started writing when she was 12. Divergent (2011) is her first novel. Since then, she has published Insurgent and Allegiant, thus completing the trilogy. Insurgent is being filmed for a March 2015 release. She is 6 ft. tall, in her shoes (1.83 m), loves to lounge around in her pajamas, fond of bland breakfast cereals and is an avid reader of Wikipedia. She describes herself as "… the good kid who came home at a reasonable hour and never did anything wrong."

On the film adaptation of her Young Adult (YA) novel, Divergent

 “I was completely absorbed by it. I clearly remember grabbing the arms of my chair when Tris runs to catch the train after the Choosing Ceremony because I was nervous that she wouldn’t make it. (And then I thought to myself…YOU WROTE THE STORY, VERONICA.) It was beautifully shot—Chicago is such a gorgeous city, and to see it transformed into this futuristic wasteland was incredibly cool—and suspenseful, and the cast did a wonderful job. And we were so lucky to have Neil Burger driving this—his vision of the world, the amazing details and subtleties of it, his understanding of the story, and how seriously he took every part of it…I mean, you can tell. You can see it everywhere.”

Her favourite faction

“When asked to choose a faction, I used to say Dauntless, but I've recently come to believe that's just wishful thinking (who doesn't want to think they'd be able to jump off a moving train and zip-line off the Hancock building?). Really, when it comes to my aptitude and my affinity for a peaceful life, I think I would choose Abnegation. (I also tend to gravitate toward the factions/groups that no one else gravitates toward, so that could be part of the reason.) Also, selflessness makes you brave, right? So I'm really just covering all the bases.”

Neil Burger


Neil Burger is a Connecticut native began his career directing commercials, including the cult MTV campaign "Books: Feed Your Head," MTV in 1991. Divergent is Burger's fifth feature film. Burger studied fine arts at Yale University before shifting from painting to experimental films, in the late '80s. Following a stint with Ridley Scott Associates, Burger took a crack at directing his first feature film. His next was a ‘mockumentary’ detailing the confession of a former Marine who claimed to be the mythical "second gunman" in the President John F. Kennedy assassination, Interview with the Assassin. The Illusionist was a stylish tale of a Vienna magician who used his powers to unmask the hypocrisy of the aristocracy. It starred Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti, and Jessica Biel. His favourite films include La Dolce Vita, Dr. Strangelove, and Raging Bull, Mike Leigh’s High Hopes and Naked.

He will not be directing the Divergent sequel (titled Insurgent), which is slated to arrive in theatres in March 2015.

On Divergent

“There’s a scene, a character named Edward, who is an important character actually in the next book, but is less important in this story, at least to Tris’ journey.  He’s important to the fans, but he gets knifed in the eye by Peter and it’s a chilling scene, and it’s not in there obviously, which was really painful to take out.  I think some of the fans will miss it but there was just no way to get it in and keep the movie moving. We’re going to put them in the deleted scenes area or the additional scenes, whatever you want to call them, in the Blu-ray extended cut.  We’re including a couple of extra scenes just to show to the fans and for ourselves.”


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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 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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