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'Rebel' Iranian Actress Golshifteh Farahani Plays One In Upcoming Film, 'The Girls of the Sun'

In 'The Song of Scorpions', which is set in Rajasthan, actress Golshifteh Farahani is devoid of makeup and appears so ordinary that she could have easily blended with women of the region.

Gautaman Bhaskaran |

Updated:January 16, 2018, 12:29 PM IST
'Rebel' Iranian Actress Golshifteh Farahani Plays One In Upcoming Film, 'The Girls of the Sun'
Golshifteh Farahani in a still from 'The Song of Scorpions' (Image courtesy: AFP Relaxnews)
Often I have felt that an actor or an actress needs to be gutsy to experiment. It may not be easy for a star to slip into a slot where he or she is stripped of his or her stardom – appearance, mannerism and dialogue delivery among other aspects. Even a fantastic actor like Irrfan Khan was a trifle apprehensive about a physical transformation (which actors like Sivaji Ganesan once and Kamal Hassan now - both from Tamil cinema – have indulged in). He paused when I shot this question at him at the recent Dubai International Film Festival. “I will” he answered with a trace of hesitation, “if the role calls for it”. I hope he would, but I wonder sometimes. For, seeing him in a blazing crimson color jacket there, he looked every inch a star.

Getting back to courage, and how it pushes actors to cross the boundaries of comfort (which is looking as they do off screen), I have always felt that the fabulous looking and rivetingly performing Iranian actress, Golshifteh Farahani, had that daring in her to step into the scandalous.

My first “meeting” with Farahani was on the screen, in a movie called The Patience Stone, helmed by Atiq Rahimi – where she plays the young wife of an older man, who because of a bullet in his neck is in a deep coma. Shot by fellow jihadists and abandoned by his own brothers, the man is tended with love and care by Farahani (who does not have a name in the film), married to him for 10 years. Set in war-ravaged Afghanistan, she is lonely and frustrated, and decides one day to pep up her own life by telling her comatose husband all about her desires and dreams – and also about her affair with a young soldier. As the days of story-telling pass one after another, her descriptions become more and more saucy, and are punctuated by the sexual escapades she has been having with the soldier. And a moment comes, when the husband is shaken into consciousness, and he tries to strangle her.

I have seen Farahani in several other movies, the latest being Anup Singh's Rajasthan-based The Song of Scorpions, where she essays a healer, who has the magical ability to draw the deadly insect's poison from a victim by humming a tune. Khan is a camel dealer, whose unrequited affection for Nooran (Farahani) evokes such a rage in him that he does something beastly. A hauntingly wonderful work, The Song of Scorpions is lyrical, the undulating sands of the desert in Rajasthan forming a perfect backdrop to what I felt seemed like a Shakespearean tragedy. And I found the actress devoid of makeup and appearing so ordinary that she could have easily blended with the women of the region.

Now, Farahani is all set to portray a Kurdish fighter in the French director, Eva Husson's The Girls of the Sun. As Bahar, the commander-in-chief of an all-women battalion – known as the The Girls of the Sun – she is all set to recapture a town taken by extremists. This part comes to the versatile, Paris-based Farahani after Pirates Of The Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge. This year, she will be seen in The Upside, and the zombie thriller, The Night Eats The World. Farahani's character in Husson's work has been inspired by real-life Kurdish women – who were taken hostage by Islamic fighters in Syria and Iraq, but who later took up arms against their captors.

Incidentally, Farahani's own life has been no less adventurous. At school in Teheran, she protested against lack of heating, and took love letters from one to another playing Cupid. At 16, she tonsured her head, because she did not want to wear a scarf and cycled the streets of her city – unthinkable in a nation run by conservative clergy. At 20, she acted with Leonardo Di Caprio in Body of Lies. The mullahs were not pleased at all. She fled to Paris, divorced her husband and made up her mind to enjoy freedom to its fullest in the French ambiance. In 2012, Farahani posed nude for a French magazine, Madame Figaro, And appeared topless in a film by Jean-Baptiste Mondino, titled Bodies and Souls.

This was it, and the Iranian administration banned her entry into her homeland.

(Gautaman Bhaskaran is an author, commentator and movie critic)
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