Language : Persian
Director : Abbas Kiarostami
What a movie. If I hadn’t seen it I would have dismissed ‘Shirin’ as pretentious stuff passed off as an experimental film. Here is the gist. Make what you can of it. Abbas Kiarostami experiments with an audience, comprising of 112 Iranian women (and I think I vaguely remember 2 men as well), watching a twelfth century Persian love story, the story of ‘Khosrow and Shirin’. All you see is the face of the audience. This goes on for five mins… ten… twenty… and by then you know that is all you will see for over an hour and a half. All you see is the expression of the women in the audience, who are really us. The expressions tell you the story. There is just the play of light on their faces, and the rich soundtrack that you hear. You almost feel you have seen the love story on screen. The actors have been filmed in fixed-frame close-up I gather. And for Juliette Binoche fans out there her face is one among the many women watching the film and reacting to it: sometimes smiling, sometimes shedding a tear, sometimes trying hard to mask an emotion. Surely was one movie that left an impression at this year’s IFFK. Hats off to the director for even thinking of making something that would seem outrageous unless of course you have seen it. This ran to a full house in Kerala. What more can I say?
Abbas Kiarostami is among my favourite film-makers. Loved his ‘Where is the friend’s home’ trilogy (although the film-maker doesn’t see it as a trilogy), ‘Taste of cherry’ and his short films ‘Bread and Alley’ and ‘Two solutions’. ‘ABC Africa’ remains my favourite though.
And thanks Arindam for ‘Rocket Singh’. I didn’t think there was a single extra scene, nor did I find the film too long or preachy. That to me is a movie well cut. But then, it is not good enough to make the ‘Bollywood’ grade. It is not loud, it has no item numbers, it has no cheap humour or women in a hurry forgetting to put on their clothes. I loved watching this one. Pick up the DVD. Good Hindi movies don’t stay long in theatres.
Useless trivia : ‘Khosrow and Shirin’ (a true story found in the ‘Shahnamah’ by the Persian poet, Firdausi) is the love story of the Sassanian prince Khosrow and Shirin, a Christian woman. Talk of inter-religion / inter-class love affairs making news as early as 580AD. Nezami Ganjavi, the poet, is credited with bringing the story to its romantic heights to give it a place right alongside ‘Romeo and Juliet’, ‘Heer Ranjha’ and ‘Laila Majnu’.
Abbas Kiarostami has published his collection of poetry as ‘Walking with the wind’. Another famous Iranian film-maker, Jafar panahi started as his assistant. Jafar Panahi was arrested along with his wife and daughter. This when they were taking part in an opposition rally protesting against the repression during which demonstrators were killed in the aftermath of the highly disputed Iranian elections.
Also read this piece from ‘The Hindu’ calling the Oscar sham http://www.hindu.com/mag/2010/03/07/stories/2010030750040100.htm