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Old cinema screening nostalgic movies in Tehran
Amirieh is an old neighborhood located in the central part of the capital city of Tehran. Qazvin Square, known also as Qazvin Gate, situated in the southern part of Karegar Street, was once one of the entrance gates of Tehran.
Farrokh Cinema is one of the oldest movie theaters of the city located in the southeastern part of the square. It was established by Hossein Noor as a venue for theater performances in 1958. However, it was repurposed to function as a movie theater in 1961.
The entrance of the cinema, which has remained in its original form, is presently full of posters from 1980s and 1990s Iranian movies. Majid Malekian Nouri, whose father is among the oldest residents of Amirieh neighborhood, bought the cinema in 2007.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Iran Daily, Malekian said his father was very interested in watching movies, in a way that sometimes he stood in line at the cinema’s box office for hours.
“We accidentally saw an advertisement for the sale of the cinema in a newspaper. On my father’s advice, I decided to buy the movie theater in 2007,” he added.
A few years later, Tehran’s cinemas were upgraded to digital technology. Farrokh, however, is the only cinema in Tehran that still uses the old projection technology.
He noted that in the 1960s and 1970s, people lined up around Qazvin Square to watch movies in the cinema with 226 seats, extending in an area of 400 square meters. In those days, Amirieh was one of the main neighborhoods of Tehran.
Malekian noted that the current residents of the neighborhood are art lovers, but when there are a large number of movie theaters in the city equipped with modern facilities and ventilation systems, no one wants to set foot in an old cinema.
He added that the old movies were screened four or five times a day in the cinema before the outbreak of COVID-19. But the cinema was closed till two months ago and, presently, if three or four people come, a movie is screened once a day.
“Our film projection equipment is old, and if not used for a long time, it will fail. That’s why sometimes we screen old movies for free. Usually, the ticket price in our cinema is half that of others.
“We can sell the theater, or turn it into a shopping center, but we have kept it because we love it. We want to keep the cinema alive,” he noted.
Malekian continued that due to the significant change in people’s lifestyle and the lack of parking spaces in the neighborhood, known as a main commercial center of Tehran, the renovation of the movie theater has no economic justification.
“So far, many people have offered to buy the old movies and equipment but I refused because I like to continue screening old movies in the cinema,” he noted.
He said a number of people are still interested in watching old movies which are exciting. Middle-aged and elderly people, having beautiful memories of the cinema, are among those who are willing to watch such films.
“I wish to turn the place into a cinema café but I would keep the old film screening equipment. There is a large number of modern movie theaters in the country and even some apartment towers have cinemas and amphitheaters. We can never compete with the movie theater complexes, but we are proud of what we do, and how we do it,” he concluded.
Classical Persian literature
A vast amount of Persian prose literature, in fields ranging from history to philosophy, was produced during the pre-modern period. This prose literature certainly has its value, and much of it is in print and read by Iranians today.
However, it is fair to say that it is mostly of interest to specialists and academics of one sort or another rather than to any general audience. The greatest achievement by far of classical Persian literature was rather in the field of poetry, and it is this poetry which still resonates most vibrantly and extensively with contemporary Iranian audiences. No survey of Persian culture and customs which ignored the role of poetry would be adequate.
An appreciation of classical Persian poetry requires taking into account three major factors that have influenced it. First, this poetry developed against the background of the Arabic poetic tradition, which was based on a very complex and rather rigid theory of prosody and on very specific genres, the qasideh or panegyric ode being the most important. So far as can be determined, pre-Islamic Persian poetry was a popular, oral art which had neither a formal system of prosody nor sharply defined genres. The Persian poetry of the Islamic Period, however, tried as far as possible to adapt the theory, technical vocabulary, and practice of the Arabic model to its own needs. This applied in the first instance to the rhythm of the poem: The metrical units were not based on stress, as in English poetry, but on the alternation of long and short vowels, as in Arabic. These were assembled into the key building block of the poem, the bayt or verse, itself composed of two units of equal length (the mesra‘ or hemistich). Each bayt needed to express a complete thought and could stand independent of the bayts which preceded and followed it. The convention in Arabic was for the final words of each hemistich of the first verse to rhyme with each other, and the last word of each subsequent verse to match that rhyme throughout the entire poem, which could be quite long. Monorhyme was also the case for certain genres in Persian, especially the qasideh and the shorter ghazal, or lyrical ode. However, Persian poetry also readily accepted poems with multiple rhyme schemes, most famously the masnavi or “couplet,” where the rhyme only had to be kept between the hemistichs of each verse, as well as genres such as the robai or “quatrain” (actually two verses where three or all four hemistichs rhyme).
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