"Santouri The Music Man" or "Ali Santoori" by Dariush Mehrjui

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The new film Santoori by the accomplished Iranian director Dariush Mehrjui tells the tale of a drug addict fighting with his inner and outer demons. With a raw and honest look, the film captures the devastation of drug addiction and how a society can push someone in that direction. Santoori an artist vs. society musical drama, goes deep within Tehran’s society, its problems with drugs and the ill treatments of drug addicts.

Ali (Bahram Radan) is an exceptional musician and a master of the Santur (a Persian zither-type stringed instrument played with two delicate wooden mallets). He is indeed a great artist, but because of Iran’s traditions and social issues, he is among the most triumphant ones. Having never been accepted by his family, Ali chooses one thing that matters the most to him and the one thing that will make his family dishonor him forever – his music. Ali’s true love and passion is his Santur.

From the start of the film, we are conscious of the fact that Ali is addicted to heroin and at the end of his rope. He is on the verge of losing his job, his friends, his colleagues and the love of his life – his wife Hanieh (Golshifteh Farahani). Hanieh too is a very talented pianist, and while together they compliment each other through music. But like an ominous sign on Ali’s apartment wall, there are posters of so many musicians who lost their lives at early ages, and we can feel that Ali is moving in the same path.

Brilliantly portraying Ali is Bahram Radan, one of the most accomplished young Iranian actors. Radan is a well- crafted performer who is always pushing himself further in his roles and craft. Though he is very aware of the beats and emotions of the scri pt, he somehow completely loses himself in the characters he portrays.

The young Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani is known as one of the most authentic, multitalented and versatile actresses that Iranian cinema has ever seen. In the film, she plays Ali’s wife Hanieh. Farahai is an edgy, energetic and keen actress with unique style.

Despite the fact that Iranian cinema prohibits touching or any intimate moments between man and a woman, the director uses his creative mind to portray situations in which we can still experience their relationship. Through their laughs, music, eyes, and their quirky rituals, the audiece can feel the love and chemistry between these two characters. And as always, Mr. Mehrjui brings depth and dramatic story telling to his films.

Daruish Mehrjui has proven himself with each film to be the master of his craft. While watching his films, you can never escape the fact that you are experiencing the work of an exceptional artist. Daruish never violates the purity of his characters, and he always focuses on the rhythms of storytelling which sustain and excite us.

With a long list of stunning films in his resume, Mehrjui has been the most influential Iranian director for the past four decades. He is the first director in the history of Iranian cinema to bring out complex characters to his female subjects. Prior to Mehrjui, Iranian women were always portrayed as one-dimensional characters, but Mehrjui brought life to his female characters and brought us exquisite films like: Pari, Leila, Hamoun and the unforgettable Derakhte Golabi with leading female characters that are multifaceted and complex. Undeniably, Mehrjui is one of the great directors with his traditional poetic style and strong sense of consciousness and reality.
Santoori is a witty, powerful, and honest drama that demands your compassion.

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Weak: 1 Star   Average: 2 Stars   Good: 3 Stars   Very Good: 4 Stars   Excellent: 5 Stars

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Margaret Madrilejos

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