Forouzan, a leading superstar and icon in Iranian cinema before the revolution, passed away yesterday 24 January 2016 and was buried hurriedly in Tehran, Iran. She was 78 years old.
Born in Port of Anzali in 1937, she began her acting career in 1963, playing the leading role, alongside Fardin and Mohammad Ali Jafari, in Beach of Expectance, directed by Siamak Yasemi. Her second role, in Ensanha (Human Beings, 1964), directed by Mehdi Misaghiyeh, came about when Farah Afiatpour (Panahi) dropped out and they needed a replacement. After that, she returned to working with Yasemi, who directed her third film, Lezzate Gonah (The Pleasure of Sin, 1964) and her fourth, Ganje Qarun (The Treasure of Qarun, 1965), both of which also featured Fardin, a beloved figure who was a wrestler before he became an actor. Ganje Qarun in particular was both an immediate and significant commercial success, cementing the reputations of both Fardin and Forouzan; her appearance in any film would subsequently guarantee huge attendance and profit.
Over a span of fifteen years, up to the Iranian revolution in 1979, she acted in more than 60 films, becoming the highest paid female star in the national industry. Although most of her films were commercial, some rather trite, her impact on Iranian cinema is undeniable. She was beautiful, with a coquettish, independent spirit and a magnetic screen presence that played well in the mostly melodramas and love stories in which she appeared. Most of her films had her playing a cabaret singer or a prostitute with whom the leading man would fall in love.
Overall, she was the most representative of all the leading actresses of the purely commercial cinema created by the Iranian film industry before the revolution.
Her other important films are: Emshab Dokhtari Mimirad (A Girl Dying Tonight, Mostafa Alamian, 1969), Raqqasehye Shahr (City Dancer, Shapur Qarib, 1970),
Khaterkhah (Amorous, Amir Shervan, 1972), and two films by Ali Hatami: Babashamal (1971) and Qalandar (The Wandering Dervish, 1972).
Her performance in Tangehye Azhdaha (The Dragon’s Path, Siamak Yasemi, 1968) was honored with the Best Actress Award at the first Sepas Film Festival in 1969.
Her acting ability was on display in its highest form in her final film, Daryoush Mehrjui‘s Dayerehye Mina (The Cycle, 1976). Also starring Said Kangarani and Ezzatollah Entezami, the film was an adaptation of the story by Qolam Hossein Saedi, the great humanist Iranian writer.
After the Islamic revolution in 1979, Forouzan was banned not only from acting but from even being seen, and she soon disappeared from the scene in Iran. Her assets and wealth were confiscated by the government.
In 2002, the last time I was in Iran, on a trip specifically for the purpose of interviewing major prominent Iranian artists who worked in pre-revolutionary Iranian cinema (actors, directors, cinematographers, screenwriters, editors, producers, etc.) for my new film, Razor’s Edge: The Legacy of the Iranian Actress, she was on my A-list for desired interviews. We had a few conversations, but she eventually declined to participate. Determined, I reached out to a few eminent figures from Iranian cinema, hoping they might be able to convince her to do so, but unfortunately the answer continued to be in the negative. Despite my regret about that outcome, I knew I could not make a film about the actresses of pre-revolutionary Iranian cinema without including her in some way, and ultimately, I was able to construct a good segment honoring her particular legacy. The film will be released this year.
My most heartfelt condolences go out to her family and all Iranians who care about and love Iranian cinema.
January 25, 2016