For the last couple posts I’ve been focusing on Iranian films instead my usual Bollywood theme. The other posts have been on directors Abbas Kiarostami and Tahmineh Milani, and this time I saw a film by director Majid Majidi. Baran (2001) is a film the mesmerized me. It was so beautiful to watch and was nearly free of dialogue, telling its story through stark, yet beautiful images.
Baran (Persian: باران) is a 2001 Iranian film directed by Majid Majidi, based on an original script by Majid Majidi. The movie is set during recent times in which there are a large number of Afghan refugees living on the outskirts of Tehran. Almost a silent movie, Baran won a number of awards both nationally and internationally for the director and writer Majid Majidi. The movie is about maturing of the character Lateef and his silent romantic interests in an Afghan refugee, Baran, in the construction site where he works. It is necessary to describe the work force at the site to fully appreciate the movie. At the point the story is told, in 2001, there are many Afghan refugees in Iran due to the war with Russia and also due to the oppressive regime of Taliban. There are many Afghan refugees working at the site for far less wages than the Iranian workers. In Iran, the Afghan refugees are not allowed to stay anywhere except the refugee camps unless authorized and hence the Afghan workers need to travel everyday from the camp to the work site. The Afghan refugees also need authorization cards to work in the country but it is difficult to obtain. Hence many of the Afghans are working illegally which is depicted in the movie. Lateef, who is an Iranian, is having an easy time at the construction site with the job of making tea and lunch. He always seems to be making witty remarks which are not taken by some of the other characters in a similar manner, especially Faraj. He is also shown to be very careful with his money and saves every single pocket money he gets. He is also shown to be intolerant towards doves. One day when Lateef comes to work he finds one of the Afghan workers, Najaf, has been injured and is being taken to the hospital. The next day, Najaf sends his son – Rahmat – to work, since he is unable to work with a broken leg and he has many children to take care of. Rahmat is a weakling and is unable to do to the heavy manual work at the construction site. Hence, the contractor, Memar, allocates Lateef’s easy job to Rahmat and Lateef has to help with the construction of the building. Lateef is sore about losing his comfy job and continuously torments Rahmat until he learns by accident that Rahmat is actually a girl. He is really sorry about his early acts and vehemently tries to be protective about Rahmat at the work site, trying to save her from Faraj and the inspectors. (source)
Here we are in the dismal, yet somehow lovely work site near Tehran:
Yet when Rahmet is given Lateef’s chai wallah job, Lateef is enraged, but not for long because he discovers Rahmet (aka Baran) is really a girl and that he has feelings for her.
He even helps protect her from work site inspectors looking for the illegal immigrants working at the site.
“Rahmat” has to leave the work site and Lateef spends time tracking her down, eventually finding her. Lateef’s search is difficult and lonely, but he gets unexpected support and encouragement from strangers along the way.
I had so many images from this film that are still playing in my mind. One of the most gorgeous but sadly poignant scenes was when Lateef spies Baran from afar working in harsh conditions, pulling large rocks from an icy cold river.
If you’re interested, you can see Baran HERE. I’d also like to see Majidi’s 1997 filmChildren of Heaven (Bacheha ye Aseman) which sounds wonderful. Please let me know if you’ve seen any of Majidi’s films and what you thought of them.