Baran, Region free. UTV World Movies, R349
Baran means rain in Persian and this is a film drenched with love and longing. Iranian director Majid Majidi’s filmography includes Colour of Paradise and Children of Heaven, movies told through the eyes of children but reflecting the grown-up truths of modern day Iran such as shackled freedom, poverty and gender oppression. Baran meditates on the plight of Afghan refugees in Iran but soon shifts ground to matters of the heart, specifically, the forbidden desire that a 17-year-old boy feels for an Afghan refugee girl.
Everybody loves to hate Lateef, a motormouth know-it-all working at a construction site in Tehran. His job is to serve tea and food to the workers, Afghan refugees who don’t have work permits and must run for cover every time the labour inspectors show up. When a construction worker gets injured on the job, he disguises his daughter as a boy and sends her as a replacement. She ends up taking Lateef’s job and he constantly tries to get his back until he sees her combing her hair through a curtain billowing in the breeze. The film begins to skate on forbidden territory as Lateef gets slowly crazed by his love for Rehmat.
Like most Iranian filmmakers, Majidi subverts the severe restrictions on expression and says more with less. Baran is suffused with bittersweet emotion, strongly outlined character sketches – such as Lateef’s boss, played by Mohammed Amir Naji – and beautifully composed visuals. Beauty and grace guide the camera as it photographs the construction site where Lateef hates, then falls in love with Rehmat. After all, he’s only 17.
By Nandini Ramnath on March 17 2011 6.30pm