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A beautiful mind

Oscar nominated director Reza Mirkarimi revelled students of KC College with his film As Simple As That. Rochelle Pinto meets the Iranian director.

india Updated: Feb 18, 2009 18:01 IST
Rochelle Pinto
Rochelle Pinto
Hindustan Times

Recently in town as an ambassador of Iranian cinema, Oscar nominated director Reza Mirkarimi revelled the students of KC College with his film As Simple As That. The film is based on Iranian housewives and their silent effect on society. This is Mirkarimi’s second time to India, the first, when he screened Under the Moonlight at the Delhi Film festival.

“My trip has a dual purpose — apart from interacting with students, I want to set up a relationship with the Indian film industry.” The event was orgainsed by The Iranian Culture House in association with the WorldKids Foundation.
Mirkarimi’s current project involves an adaptation of the classic tale of Rustom and Sohrab, a popular Iranian fable. “I was impressed with the way Jodhaa Akbar was filmed. I hope to create a synthesis between Iranian storytelling and Indian technical experience.”

Culture connect
Many may not know that Iranian cinema produces almost 100 movies a year, with most of the funding coming from the government.
When asked if that posed a problem of heavy censorship, Mirkarimi responded, “While Iranian movies explore social themes, they do not touch upon sex and violence. If the movie is not in tune with Iranian culture, it is banned.”
Although admitting that rape and women’s abuse are taboo for filmmakers, he insists that there are other means of exploring these issues. “I do not think that sex and violence helps promote women’s liberty. I have taken my movies to over 12 international film festivals and nobody has ever complained.”

Beyond glamour
Though the list of taboo subjects is long, Mirkarimi believes that reality is the foremost demand of the Iranian cine-goer. Unlike its Indian counterpart, Iranian cinema does not bow to glitz and glamour. “In India, all the heroes want to look young and perfect. Our people want the protagonist to be one of them,” he explains.

The lack of glamour hasn’t damaged their prospects at award ceremonies, where Iranian films are regulars on the favourites list.

On the importance of international awards Mirkarimi says, “Cinema represents the image of the nation. Awards are important because it means that the world is watching us.. learning about our culture.” He also acknowledges that it demands more responsibility on the part of the film maker.

And does the volatile nature of the region affect outdoor shoots? “You should make a trip to Iran to see how peaceful it is,” Mirkarimi laughs. “All the problems you hear about are for our neighbours.”

First Published: Feb 18, 2009 18:00 IST