When you think of Iran, which picture would you like to imagine in your mind, crowd of women in their traditional chador, or would you think about fatwas of Khomeni and Khamenie former and current supreme leader of country, or you would think about their nuclear reactors producing weapons of mass destruction which Mr. Obama and his Israeli 'partners' feel are threat to their securities, you may think of berserk crowd chanting 'death to America' and 'death to Israel', perhaps your imaginative flight can land on the great kebabs and dry fruits of Iran but, perhaps someone who does not go and hunt to find good quality movies from around the world, one may never think that such a country might have very rich, magnificent and mature cinema.
Interest to movies came to me very late, I started my journey from Indian, American and British movies and slowly started exploring world cinema. I watched quite a few number of movies of French, German, Italian, Spanish, African, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Arabic and Persian cinema. Though each one had its distinct taste and charm but nothing came close to the charm and sweetness of Persian movies. Here I would like to say that, there are people in the world making much better movies than Hollywood is making.
Iranian film makers, post Islamic revolution were constrained immensely in their content and portrayal of their characters in their movies. There was a heavy censorship upon the subjects with political, religious and sexual overtones which is enforced quite harshly even today. But Iranian governments support with their funding movie making within their confined boundaries which did not let the art die, rather it flourished and gave some of the magnificent movies ever made.
Hayat - A Persian Movie
Persian cinema does not have superheros, spaceships, aliens, dramatic actions, picturesque warfare, gigantic sets, dance and songs and many other stuff which we have started to expect from Hollywood and Bollywood movies but rather they have very ordinary characters a school kid, a shepherd, a father, a blind, a husband etc. Their stories are not about stories of good vs evil, attack on planet earth, world wars, biographies of great people but rather it would be something very very ordinary, simple and normal to which you will relate yourself from very first second of the movie.
The Cow, is a story of a relationship ofa man and his pet, the movie can say thousand things to you about human love of animals, Baran, a romantic love story, which will steal your heart, Range Khoda, tells you chronicles ofa blind, how he learns reading, a truely mesmerizing masterpiece, Children of Heaven is a story of a boy who participates in a race, not to win it but to be a runner up so that he could give shoes to his sister which is the prize of the runner up,Hayat, tale of a girl who battles with her life to study, its not her life which movie shows but only few hours of a day but still leaves you with an enthralling andexperience of life. There are so many more, A separation, Taste of the Cherry, Songs of the Sparrow, Hammoun, The White Balloon and many more, each one of them are unique.
These movies have been acclaimed at international stage and they have won numerous awards even last year A Separation won Oscar in the category of the best film in foreign language. Many cinema scholars believe that Iranian cinema represents best of the cinema we have today.
Another very important aspect is the aesthetic of these movies, they are simply beautiful not because of blaring sounds, extraordinary lighting or expensive sets but because of subtle portrayal of ordinary things. You may sit back and enjoy a Persian movie and do not expect violence, nudity, strong language or any extra ordinary thing which gives it kind of charm which is hard to find in any other cinema. I understand that depending upon the subject sexual content and violent contents have to come but such movies may leave you satisfied but they do not leave you happy. If you are watching Persian movie, you would either have a smile or you will sob in tears but it will leave you with emotions and feelings very new to you and you will also feel you were hunting these feelings since long.
(Habib is currently based in Doha and can be contacted at . He blogs at )