F for Fireworks Wednesday (Chaharshanbe Suri)

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This time I have chosen a film that is not too heavy but more closer to home. It explores the eternal question of what is marriage? Is it lifelong bliss or does it come apart when the dreams we had woven when we first stepped into wedlock seem to disintegrate and crumble like a sand castle. Though I am calling it not too heavy this Iranian movie is  intense.

Fireworks Wednesday is an Iranian movie, which is an intimate and personal portrayal of a fast eroding sanctity called marriage set against the Persian New Year. As the story moves forward it also brings to the fore the strained gap between the upper and lower classes of Tehran. ‘Chaharshanbe Suri’ or Firworks Wednesday on one hand has the literal meaning as everyone is gets ready for new year with their fireworks and on the other it’s metaphorical, as the drama hit a crescendo just like the fireworks. The film is directed by Ashgar Farhadi, and stars Hedyeh Tehrani, Taraneh Alidousi and Hamid Farokhnezhad.

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Though the entire city celebrates the New Year, there is no respite for Rouhi. She has no holidays and has to come to work for her new employees . The movie starts with a young girl, Rouhi, riding the pillion of the bike. Her fiancé is dropping her off at her work place. Their casual, carefree and loving banter is endearing and full of love, not in a physical way though. She comes to work for a couple with a young son, a family waiting to explode. Rouhi finds herself to be a pawn in the couple’s endless confrontations, which conclude with a final scene of fireworks of New Year

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Mozde is the ever-depressed wife who constantly suspects her husband, Morteza, of having an affair with the next-door neighbor and a salon owner. She is driven to such a state of distraught and hysteria that she tries to listen to conversations at her neighbor’s house through the water pipes, of her bathroom, which seemingly acts as a voice carrier. The accusations and suspicions take such proportions that the apparently loving husband, going about with his business is forced into violence. Amazingly the viewers sympathize with Morteza. Even the neighbors find Mozde losing her mind and empathizes with Morteza.

In the midst of this imbroglio enters Rouhi and inadvertently becomes Mozde’s spy. Learning of her impending wedding her employer sends her off to the salon to trim her eyebrows. But this is only a façade; she wants Rouhi to spy on Simin the floozy, salon owner. Throughout the movie the viewer’s sympathy shifts from one character to the other unable to make a fix as to who really is the wrong doer.

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The movie passes no judgments as it unfolds. Until the end the viewer is left suspecting if the circumstances are the main villain. But we do get to know the reality. Morteza once caught has no qualms saying that he can cheat because his wife is not the best housekeeper. Well isn’t that how human minds work? When caught, shift the blame so that you are not responsible for the consequences no matter how dire it is.

In the end it is the story of a young, cheerful woman with a lot dreams, who sees the murky dissolution of a marriage – truth, lies and deception that the institute of marriage constitutes.

As the ground reality hits her, she goes back at the end of the day as a more matured woman, whose dreams are more practical. Her initial shyness and her conservative attitude also come off as her Chador comes off (because it is used for a different purpose by Mozde) at the end of the movie.

Fireworks Wednesday is a movie, which ha been seamlessly intertwined with the fireworks and celebrations outside that resonate the fireworks of family life and strife, inside.

I leave you with a scene of the movie.

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