Monday, December 15, 2014

Majid Majidi’s Cinema: Celebrating the essence of simplicity

Note 1: This is my humble endeavor to present a perspective.

Note 2: Yes, title of the blog is bombastic but I think I can get away with that! 

In the last scene of the movie ‘Baran” – Lateef the protagonist or confused hero beholds the footstep in the mud left by Baran’s (heroine) shoe – drizzle continues and small drops of water fill up that little space created by the footstep. Camera pans in and stays right there on the footstep while it fills up with water, and thus ends the story of love – never expressed or understood by any of the protagonists in the film. I didn’t feel for that ending or couple but only for myself – and it took me a while to justify the ending in my mind – yes, it couldn’t have been expressed better. The unrequited love (from both sides) attained immortality. So let it be!  The virtuousness of love is illuminated in such a pure manner that it leaves you blissfully stoned.

Majid Majidi (Photo Courtesy:

Grew up on a staple diet of Bollywood earlier and then Hollywood – it was a profound experience for me when I watched this unusual ending in Majid Majidi’s beautiful flick – “Baran” means Rain in Persian (Majidi is an Iranian filmmaker). Devoid of any melodrama and hyperbole, the innate beauty of Majid Majidi’s cinema lies in simplicity, while celebrating and weighing in pure human emotions, pathos, ambitions and inner-conflicts – with sheer honesty. Back in 2008, one of my friends introduced me to Majidi’s cinema. During one of our interesting discussions, he named this director and I ended up watching Baran. Sadly, Majid has not released any flick or documentary since 2008. One of his ambitious and most-talked about film “Muhammad” is under production and according to Internet information, it will be released in 2015.

Except the reviews of his films, a film lover wouldn’t find much, written about the cinema of this Iranian director. A lot has been contributed in popularizing his cinema by an Academy Award Nomination, which the director received in the Best Foreign Language Film category in 1998 for Children of Heaven.

Majidi’s absolute gems - Children of Heaven, The Color of Paradise and one of my all-time favorite movies Baran showcase the poignant human stories which captivate the audiences from the start to finish, without indulging in any sort of pretention. Sadly, this is a common ploy used by many notable directors these days, as they deliberately focus on unimportant details in their films to confuse the audiences in order to amplify the overall effect of important scenes or to support the presence of unnecessary sub-plots in films.

I wouldn’t dare to write about his documentaries because I am not capable enough to justify the effort of this great director. There are some outstanding scenes in all of his movies, which I really like and they left an indelible impression on me. One factor that really stands out about this director is his sheer honesty to bring his stories on the screen – the way he wants. Like a dedicated storyteller, who respects his audiences as much as he respects his stories – Majidi never deviates from his path.

Back to his movies… Let’s talk about a few scenes:

There is one scene in Children of Heaven, where Zahara (a girl child studying in a primary school) notices that Roya was wearing her pink shoes. While Roya was busy licking on a sort of candy, Zahara simply notices her – both children do not look at each other. Not sad or angry, but Zahara’s probing look eulogizes the purpose of the scene and tells us about her mental-state. It is always difficult to get the right expressions from children but Majidi has a knack of getting the best out of them – and the output comes as natural as you expect from a child artist. His child actors hold their characters beautifully and pull them off with an uncharacteristic sincerity because here they are not reduced to mannequins or cheeky vocalists or fillers or disordered jesters.

Another important aspect of Majid’s cinema is that he shows the daily chores of common people stunningly like a cobbler mending shoes, women washing clothes in a riverbed, or a vegetable seller attending his customers. Every scene gets enough screen-time and gels along well with the overall momentum of the film.

Majid’s cinema is not only about the celebration of characters or human emotions and dreams, but it’s also about the ambience where these characters live, breath and dream about a better future. Ultimately, this very ambience gives the meaning to their lives. This sort of setting or storytelling can be compared with R.K. Narayan’s Malgudi Days, where the surroundings and people complement the presence of each other and here they are gleefully pictured or presented.

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