Tracing Indo-Iranian cultural similarities

Tracing Indo-Iranian cultural similarities

Film festival

A middle-aged homemaker, Tahereh feels lonely at home. Her husband, a construction engineer, is always busy. Her son Ali and daughter Arezou keep her occupied once they are back from school. Her daily routine includes dropping Ali for English classes, making Arezou learn cooking and taking social responsibility as a resident of the building that she lives in. She sometimes writes poetry and goes out to meet friends. No, she’s not entirely unhappy, but she craves for companionship.

Tahereh’s life in Reza Mirkarimi directorial As Simple as That (2008) is very similar to a lot of other homemakers in India and abroad. But the simplicity in which the situation is portrayed won many hearts during the screening of the movie at the ongoing Iranian Film Festival (IFF) at Siri Fort Auditorium.

“Iranian films mostly touch upon themes of love, peace, tolerance and humanism,” says Ghulam Raza Ansari, ambassador of Iran to India.

The festival, which celebrates 60 years of Indo-Iranian cultural ties, showcases various cultural similarities that India and Iran share.

Kicking off on Saturday, July 16, IFF opened with a powerful performance from Ronak music group playing traditional music from different parts of Iran. With instruments like tar (similar to sitar), duff (similar to dafli and table) and kamanche, which gave the audience a slice of Iran’s vibrant culture.

“Music has a universal language. We did not have to do much effort to connect with the audience here. After the kind of response that we received, we hope to get invited by music festivals from India,” Kaiwan Ali Mohammadi, member, Ronak group, tells Metrolife.

Apart from films, artworks from Iran, including paintings, khatamkari, meenakari or enamelling, ghalam zani or Persian engraving and kalamkari are also on display.

Despite limited advertisement and minimal media presence, the festival has received an overwhelming response from Delhiites.

“It was only after the effort of coming to the festival I got to know how similar the two countries are,” says Asha Nehra, who, after being impressed by A Cube of Sugar (2013), which was screened on the first day of the festival, came to attend the screening of As Simple as That on Sunday.

A Cube of Sugar, also directed by Reza Mirkarimi, is the story of a traditional Iranian family and the rituals that they practice in events like weddings and funerals.

“The movie shows how even for Iranians, it is very important to take care of guests and host them in the most welcoming manner. Irrespective of financial constraints, they will throw a grand wedding, and even a funeral will be done on a large scale,” adds Nehra.

Iranian cinema also showcases simplicity and humanity as deep-rooted values in the society. Ali Akbar directorial, A Five Star (2013) showcases how the management of a five-star hotel has deep concern and respect for its housekeeping staff, three of whom were suspected of theft.

The film portrays the life of a girl (Maryam) who wants to get herself enrolled in a university. But, the lack of money forces her to work as the housekeeping staff in a
five-star hotel, where her mother (Homa) has been working.

The feature film has many instances that showed Iranian’s love for Bollywood movies like Sholay and Naseeb and for Amitabh Bachchan. “Not just the sensitivity, but also the emotional relationship that Maryam shares with her parents is something that I could relate to. I observed that the plot of these movies is so simple and direct which I like the most,” says Prachi, a film buff, adding that movies like these remind her of masterpieces in Bollywood like The Lunchbox.

IFF, showcasing 14 award-winning films, ends today.

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