Movie review: The Mirror (Persian)

The Mirror is a story that starts as a movie but ends as a documentary sans any factual information but a portrayal of something real though. Directed and edited by Mr. Jafar Panahi, the movie was released in the year 1997. The cast includes Mina Mohammed Khani, Kazem Mojdehi, Naser Omuni, M. Shirzad and T. Samadpour. This is the second film directed by Jafar Panahi which received the Golden Leopard Award at the Locarno Film Festival( Italy). The whole plot of the movie is shot with the backdrop of the city of Tehran.

The movie’s central character is a cute little girl Mina (Mina Mohammed Khani) with a fractured arm in a sling, face covered with a white headscarf wearing a pink coloured jacket. One fine day her mother doesn’t turn up at the school to pick her up, this is when the movie starts. Mina decides to go back to her home all by herself. But mistakenly takes the bus that is going in the opposite direction instead as she identifies the bus conductor and driver as the ones who drove her to the school in morning.

While in the bus she observes different people of different age-groups and overhears their conversations. An old woman ill- treated by her son and daughter-in-law sharing her problem with a fellow passenger, some young girls talking about their friend whose family was deceived and she is unhappily married to some older guy, a group of musicians that boards the bus and plays a beautiful piece of music during which another young lady (probably sitting with her mother and aunt) is sharing glances with a handsome young man who is clumsily standing on the footboard of the bus. The little girl Mina is so adorable and the look on her face so innocent that you can’t stop yourself from developing a soft corner for her in your heart. And moreover due to that sling in her hand you start sympathizing with her. I myself felt very bad indeed when the old woman in the bus asked her to stand up and offer the seat to another lady holding a baby. Her beautiful smile and sparkling eyes are so enlivening that it brings an inner joy and happiness to your soul.

As the movie progresses further, suddenly Mina starts looking into the camera. It’s when you start wondering and figuring out what is happening and what is going to happen. After sometime you can’t stop laughing about how Mina gets reluctant about not working any further in the movie the arguments she gives in this favour. She deboards the bus and removes her sling, changes her boots (the one she came wearing in). The crew members try to persuade her to change her mind but all in vain. This is when the director decides to shoot the rest of the movie according to Ms. Khani and following her. All this while viewers get to see the real scene of Tehran streets courtesy microphone wore by Mina that goes off and on. It’s interesting to watch how finally this headstrong girl roaming about on the streets of Tehran reaches her home.

A wonderfully shot movie exemplifying the challenges that a director can go through and equally good decision-making shown by Mr. Panahi. The transition from the reel role to real role of Ms. Khani is just as delightful. And finally the aptly chosen title of the movie which, according to me, is trying to reflect upon the roles (images we possess as an individual in a society) we play in our daily lives and how we constantly keep on modifying them as and when they don’t appear good to us or others around us.

Anumeha Saxena