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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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Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari, Review: Heavy load to carry

Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari, Review: Heavy load to carry It is difficult to decide what was more burdensome: sitting through the film or reviewing it for the benefit of unsuspecting prospective audiences. There is just too much happening, a lot of it without logic, over the two hours 19 minutes that Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari spans. In the hands of a competent editor, the two hours would end in the bin and the 19 minutes would then make an interesting TV episode. This is one of the films wherein an item...

That Sunday, Review: Rape is feign

That Sunday, Review: Rape is feign A piece of jazz lets you in on the scene wherein the actor is watching cartoons, with a remote control in his hand and nodding his head. He is a middle-aged man, totally submerged in the antics on his small screen. Meanwhile, a child gets dressed, obviously to go to school. He then comes into the room of the man and announces to his “Papa” that he is “going”, half implying that he is quitting the home altogether. You begin to wonder w...

Lunch With My Friend’s Wife, Review: Not with his friend’s wife

Lunch With My Friend’s Wife, Review: Not with his friend’s wife That is a dilemma and a conundrum. Firstly, the lunch takes just a few seconds of the 15 minute 13 second film. Secondly, it is not with the central character’s friend’s wife, as the title suggests. That means taking huge liberties with the narrative genre. Lunch With My Friends Wife plots two intertwined story lines, one being the apparently straight narrative, while the other a blend of flashback and the...

Footfairy, Review: Feet loosened and fancy freed

Footfairy, Review: Feet loosened and fancy freed You won’t get it at first reading. The adage is ‘foot-loose and fancy free’. But my take on it is in the context of the serial murder mystery, in which the killer strangulates the victim with a plastic bag, causing asphyxia and then saws off her feet. Yes, her feet. Feet loosened and fancy (life) freed. He does more, like dumping the body in a suit-case, not far from the scene of the crime. Since the victim is always a young ...

Aashram Grih-Pravesh, Overview: Lacks originality, packs technicality

Aashram Grih-Pravesh, Overview: Lacks originality, packs technicality Aashram is a nine-episode web series currently streaming on MX player, released on 28th August, and available for watching free. It is an MX Original Production. Episodes vary in duration from 45 to 55 minutes. Based in the fictional city of Kashipur, there is an empire created by a self-proclaimed Godman, Kashipur Wale Baba Nirala, who derives his power from the influence he has over the lower strata of the society. There...

My Client’s Wife, Review: What you see is not what you get

With its lead players putting up pretences throughout the film, it is easy to label the film pretentious. To be fair, it is not pretentious. There is an element of sincerity in the making. My Client’s Wife is potentially full of sexual encounters, only the makers have been careful to keep it ‘clean’. But as is the problem with psychological thrillers, there are too many red herrings and deviations from the plot just to cause shock and awe. Is it based on a true story? The mak...

Widow of Silence, Review: Half-lives, half-wives

Widow of Silence, Review: Half-lives, half-wives Since it is based on many true stories, it is easy to consider Widow of Silence as an amalgamated biopic. Though the central character and her plight may be an amalgam of several of her sisters living in the god-forsaken heaven on earth, rural Kashmir, it works as a personal story too, using the larger picture as a backdrop. Unfortunately, though, besides highlighting the suffering of women whose husbands have been picked-up and taken away, nev...

Aneek Chaudhuri’s Malayalam film Katti Nrittam in Marche du film, Cannes 2020

Aneek Chaudhuri’s Malayalam film Katti Nrittam in Marche du film, Cannes 2020 Katti Nrittam is a modern-day adaptation of Mahabharata, where a major part of the shooting took place in Kolkata. In December 2019, the film’s script got included in the OSCARS’ Margaret Herrick Library, where Aneek’s previous film Cactus is also a part. This year, Festival de Cannes will be held on a virtual platform and is taking place from June 22-26, 2020. Most importantly, most of the ...

Dates announced for FID Marseille 22-26 July! / FIDLab 6-10 July 2020

With all our heart to the events that have been forced to cancel or go entirely online, we are in solidarity with their forced decisions and salute their work and their formidable reactivity.   After many hypotheses, after implementation in various forms already under way - and all this will only have been possible thanks to the unconditional support of all our public partners, whom we would like to thank warmly and whose constancy and complicity we would like to salute - allow us to ...

Nina Mehta’s 6th Death Anniversary (12th April 1942-26th April 2014)

Nina Mehta’s 6th Death Anniversary (12th April 1942-26th April 2014) They were the earliest ghazal-singing couple I knew, Nina and Rajendra Mehta. Ladies come first, was the rule back in the late 60s. Born into a Baroda-rooted Gujarati business family, Nina Shah studied at Wilson College, Mumbai, where the family had settled. Winning the Inter-Collegiate Singing Competition four times in a row, she made her radio debut in Ovaltine Phulwari, which was a singing talent weekly show anchore...

Robibaar, Review: Sad, sombre, somnolent, sepulchral Sunday

Robibaar, Review: Sad, sombre, somnolent, sepulchral Sunday It is a Sunday. Not an ordinary Sunday, an eventful Sunday. For the female protagonist, it begins like any ordinary Sunday, a deceptively ordinary Sunday. Except for a strange dream that wakes her up, everything else seems like every Sunday. Till she goes to the neighbourhood café, for her routine breakfast. For the male protagonist, this Sunday could be the most important day in fifteen years, and it all begins when he walks ...

Angrezi Medium, Review: Crazy Tedium

Angrezi Medium, Review: Crazy Tedium Three years ago, Maddock Films gave us a slice-of-life entertainer called Hindi Medium. ‘Medium’ here referred to the language, the medium of instruction in school education. It was just passably humorous yet proved more popular than expected, garnering a few awards as well. A follow-up went into development soon afterwards, repeating its lead actor Irrfan Khan. Though still to recover completely, Irrfan is back in Maddock’s Angrezi (Engl...

18th Third Eye Asian Film Festival, III

18th Third Eye Asian Film Festival, III Iran bagged two of the four prizes in the best short fiction films category at the 18th Third Eye Asian Film Festival (TEAFF), including the most coveted First Prize. The second prize went to an Indian entry, while the third prize was shared between an Iranian and an Indian film. Over the years, Iranian films have regularly made their mark at TEAFF, and there is always a strong presence of films from Iran, whether features or shorts. Here are the winne...

18th Third Eye Asian Film Festival, II

18th Third Eye Asian Film Festival, II Six films were short-listed for the Best Asian Woman Film-maker Award at the 18th Third Eye Asian Film Festival (TEAFF): An Unfairy Tale/Maadathi, 2019, Tamil, 90 min, Director: Leena Manimekalai; Mystic Memoir, 2019, Bengali, 77 minutes, Director: Aparajita Ghosh; The Taste from Happy Island, 2019, China, 90 min, Director: Lai Xueyi; Stories@8/Kathaah@8, 2019, multilingual, Singapore, 90 mins, Director: Shilpa Krishnan Shukla; Dithee, 2019, Marathi, 86 ...

18th Third Eye Asian Film Festival, I

18th Third Eye Asian Film Festival, I Organised by the Asian Film Foundation and P.L. Deshpande Maharashtra Kala Academy, the 18th Third Eye Asian Film Festival (TEAFF) has just concluded. Held during March 1-6, at the Mini-Theatre, located on the third floor of the Ravindra Natya Mandir Complex, Prabhadevi, Mumbai, the festival screened films in six slots each day. Paani, in Marathi language, directed by Adinath Kothare, was the inaugural film while Mai Ghaat, also in Marathi, directed by An...

Baaghi 3, Review: Rebel without a pause

Baaghi 3, Review: Rebel without a pause Meaning ‘rebel’ in Urdu, Baaghi 3 showcases the muscular machismo, kicking quotient and airborne acrobatics of the loose cannon called Tiger Shroff. He first takes on petty thugs and eve-teasers, then murderers and people smugglers and finally the most dreaded terrorist organisation in Syria, nay, it is claimed, the whole world! His own voice-over at the end credits these escapades as the outcome of being a rebel. And does this rebel have a ...

19th Annual Transmedia Gujarati Screen & Stage Awards

19th Annual Transmedia Gujarati Screen & Stage Awards Started in 2002, the Annual Transmedia Gujarati Screen (film and television) & Stage Awards held its 19th edition on 29th February 2020 at the V Hotel, Juhu, Mumbai. On the occasion, the best of Gujarati film and drama talent on display in the calendar year 2019 was awarded. Special awards and lifetime achievement awards were also distributed to a host of luminaries present at the open air venue. The event was sponsored by Gujarat ...

Onward, Review: Upward, downward, northward, southward, eastward, westward, and afterward

Onward, Review: Upward, downward, northward, southward, eastward, westward, and afterward A potpourri of various elements found across several genres, animation giants Disney and Pixar’s Onward is good fun while it lasts. The film uses motivational and familial themes to string together a tale of an era wherein everything modern co-exists with almost everything mythical and magical. It stretches your imagination to some limits, but once you set your disbelief to the required frequency o...

Har Kisse Ke Hisse Kaamyaab, Review: Many parts, many holes, no whole, no soul

Har Kisse Ke Hisse Kaamyaab, Review: Many parts, many holes, no whole, no soul In one scene of Har Kisse Ke Hisse Kaamyaab, the protagonist, an actor who goes under the screen name of Sudheer, cannot get his lines right, because he has not had a swig of his favourite brew, and gives retake after retake. We see him do seven/eight retakes, after which, mercifully, the film-maker goes into a montage, with only music, after which it is revealed that he had given as many as 32 retakes. Mercifully,...

Guns of Banaras, Review: Where are the bullets?

Guns of Banaras, Review: Where are the bullets? When Nathalia Kaur, who was born Nathalia Pinheiro Felipe Martins, in Brazil, appears in the credit titles as the lead actress in probably her first Hindi heroine assignment, and Karann Nathh, son of producer and star-secretary ‘Rikku’ Rakeshnath, 37, who had worked in Yeh Dil Aashiqana, Ssshhh... and Tera Kya Hoga Johnny, makes a come-back after 12 years, your curiosity is aroused. It is further fuelled by the belief that this must ...

Thappad, Review: This slap is going to cost you dear

Thappad, Review: This slap is going to cost you dear A simple, significant, timely and relevant story line might be too thin to stretch into a full-length movie. Having settled for such a plot, the options would include spreading the narrative thinly across the pages of a tight screenplay, or padding it up with sub-plots and characters that might not be vital to the theme. Thappad (Slap) opts for the latter choice, and, in the process, dilutes its impact. What emerges is a well-made film that...

Bhoot, the Haunted Ship-Part I, Review: Scares are scarce

Bhoot, the Haunted Ship-Part I, Review: Scares are scarce Considering the negligible number of ghost stories being made in India, Bhoot, the Haunted Ship-Part I, made by names Dharma and ZEE, would have been a film to look forward to. It turns-up with a mixed bag, offering more mix than bag. Firstly, the title is a giveaway, for we already know that there is going to be a ship and that it will be haunted. Secondly, the film plays totally safe, in catering to both kinds of audiences—thos...

Brahms the Boy II, Review: Let sleeping dolls lie

Brahms the Boy II, Review: Let sleeping dolls lie A potentially scary movie that does not scare you loses all meaning. Avoiding tropes should not mean doing away with horrible goings on almost altogether. Brahms the Boy II is about a living doll (with apologies to Cliff Richard) that performs all its super-natural feats off camera, barring one or two, and that takes away the fear factor. Most of the film has a logically progressing narrative, but one that holds little interest to audiences wh...

Shukranu-Hui Emotion ki Nasbandi, Review: Tale of forced sterilisations lacks potency

Shukranu-Hui Emotion ki Nasbandi, Review: Tale of forced sterilisations lacks potency In modern Indian history, the Internal Emergency, proclaimed in 1975 and in place for about two years, is regarded as a highly controversial phase. During this period, buses and trains ran on time, attendance in government establishments increased astronomically, corruption was all but eliminated and prices of a host of essential commodities were controlled. But all this was accompanied by curbs on freedom o...

Fantasy Island, Review: Risks submersion

Fantasy Island, Review: Risks submersion Inspired is equal measure by two incompatible sources as divergent as Agatha Christie and the U.S.S.R. film Solaris, Fantasy Island plays deep desires against harsh realities in an implausible tale that is part vendetta, part science fiction and part psychic phenomena. There are too many back-stories and unexplained events, as a result of which the movie gets bogged down. In the end, you will make sense of it only if you stop analysing or questioning t...

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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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