(For SI Blog readers Kreacher, Unknown Virus, Boopalan etc)
I am not a big believer in love or its cathartic effects on the human soul!
Insufferable romances churned out by Bollywood and its shittier regional siblings have only intensified my apathy to all things lovey-dovey.
Still, I greatly enjoyed the Iranian film Baran (2001), which has love at its core, because it’s a beautiful work.
Despite Baran’s implausible story line, if I had my way I’d make it mandatory for all Indian film makers to watch director Majid Majidi’s movies so that the bozos get a badly needed crash course in the art and craft of putting out quality movies.
Baran was my second Majidi film. I watched it a few day after seeing after his Oscar nominated Children of Heaven.
Like Children of Heaven, Baran is both written and directed by Majidi.
Baran – Unlikely Love
Baran too is set in Tehran, again within the framework of bitter poverty.
In Baran, the setting is a construction site in Tehran where a whole bunch of dirt poor Afghani immigrants work there illegally.
One day, Najaf, one of the poor Afghani illegal workers on the construction site, is badly injured on the job forcing him to stay away from work.
For Najaf and his struggling family, things go from bad to terrible after the old man is laid low by the injury.
So Najaf (with help from his friend Soltan) resorts to a bizarre tactic to feed his family, setting in motion an unusual love story.
Truth be said I was not in the least convinced by Najaf’s odd tactic but sometimes in movies, as in life, you tend to go with the flow. And that’s precisely what I did here.
I don’t want to mar your joy by disclosing too many details of Baran.
But I’ll tell you that Baran is an unusual and unlikely love story in many ways.
For instance, the principal protagonists Lateef and Baran never speak to each other. Not once.
Seldom do they even ‘see’ each other.
But Baran is proof that love flourishes even in the most challenging of circumstances, oddest of places and strangest of manners.
Director Majidi handles love and the sacrifices Lateef makes for Baran with a subtlety and class that makes this movie so enjoyable.
Dieu merci, we don’t see two well-heeled love-struck chimps ‘dancing’ in Iceland, Greenland or Switzerland as we are often wont to in Bollywood or Kollywood bilge.
Hossein Abedini as the love-lorn young worker Lateef and Mohammad Amir Naji, who plays the construction superintendent Memar, are the pivots of the film, more than even the girl Baran (Zahra Bahrami).
We first encountered Mohammad Amir Naji playing Ali’s father in Children of Heaven. But in Baran he has a larger role and does full justice to it.
The surreal ending in Baran and Lateef’s calm acceptance of his fate is so heartrending.
If you ask me, the beauty of rare movies like Baran is that the whole is far greater than the sum of their individual parts like acting, story, long camera shots etc.
Majidi Majidi is an extraordinary filmmaker and I’m glad my readers recommended his movies.
In the unlikely event you want to watch Baran, the DVD is available at Netflix.