It’s been a few days since I wrote something. So, let me break the ice by sharing an embarrassing childhood story. One morning, I woke up craving for some biryani (more like every morning in your life Sagar ;). Back then, the world was a great place because there was no internet to complain about the elaichi(cardamom) in biryani or have great debates about having or not having aloo(potatoes) in your biryani. The world was so kind that even if a person calls a pulao a biryani they’d forgive them.
I asked my mom and explained to her why I need this biryani in my life so that I can be the happiest kid on earth and be a good boy and do my homework, go to school and one day I’d become a graduate, earn money and eat biryani every day. My very efficient mother understood my cravings that day and gave me a sum of 20 rupees to get the ingredients from a nearby shop. I go to the shop and stand in the queue to get my things and suddenly as the moment came to buy I realized that I lost the money to buy my stuff.
That’s it, then began the rant from the shop keeper, it has everything from the bad influences of cinema to why today’s youth (come on dude I am a kid) can never understand the value of money. The people who were watching this scene happening, the audience were amused and some critics came up with artistic explanations and conspiracy theories about me not carrying the money at all to me dreaming about having money in my hands, I wish I could tell them “Give me a totem, I can prove it to you right now that it’s not a dream” but because I felt enough of my age and insignificance over there I howled and ran away from that place. Now, before you wonder how any of this is related to the discussion, I was reminded of the incident while I was watching Jafar Panahi’s ‘The white balloon’.
It is the story of a 7-year-old Razieh and her wish to have a new goldfish for the Iranian New Year’s decoration. Her mother brushes it off as an unnecessary expense, her brother Ali understands her wish and convinces his mom to give money to buy her the fish, and while on her way to buy it she loses her money, will she be able to find it? How she will deal with this want and a problem is the rest of the story.
Now, this might be quite a boring story for some of you, but through constant reminders about the ticking clock to the New Year event in the background radio and the effort of these kids to find the money makes it more intriguing and makes you go awe in a few scenes. This story is also set in times where the world was a better place and people were kind to others in general. A lot of people try and help them and a lot of people ignore them. There are a few scenes that show us how insignificant these kids are made to feel in this world, but there are also scenes that portray the exact opposite and show people being kind and helpful towards them.
Every character they encounter with from the snake charmer to the man who passes by on a cycle singing about crossing the sea, all of them are not mere passing people but living and breathing characters that help or hold the narrative. A brief insight is given into everyone’s life and their issues which makes them even more real. It is about money and how everyone needs it, yet if they don’t have it they are happy with their own lives or at least they are forced to be. Watching something like this in the lockdown period helped me hold together my thoughts, made me nostalgic on multiple levels and finally made me think about this film and appreciate its beauty and simplicity the entire day. These films are generally hard to get access to but we are fortunate that Hotstar has his entire filmography, what does this mean? A series about Iranian films will follow soon ☺