Readers Write In #443: A Hero, by Asghar Farhadi

Posted on February 20, 2022


By An Jo


In ‘A Hero’ Asghar Farhadi lays out to you a story that could be passed off as an Aesop’s fable. A man, already declared by legal system as a criminal, trying to be honest: This is the emphasis; this is what the story is about; you need to make an effort to be yourself. If a society and its constructs demand that you need to make an effort to be yourself, to act per your conscience, what does it say about the society and the legal systems that always claim, they are the best? India is the best per Indians, the United States is the best per Indians mainly, and Norway per the health-system experts!

There’s a line in the movie that’s uttered by the so-called villain in the movie, the creditor and he says, “This is a hogwash to paint a picture that this country is an eden or paradise that gives another chance”: Now that, that is where Asghar’s brilliance lies: He slips in a greater discussion-filled sessions for us, the audience with one line that has opened up a bloody 100 acres for thought/s.

So this is the story of Rahim Soltani’s journey when he comes out on a leave – didn’t know the system existed in Iran; why would one grant a ‘criminal’ a leave? – and supposedly finds a bag with some coins worth hell of a lot monetarily. He works on his conscientious shenanigans and wins over the devil, which, would have obviously goaded him to use the money to pay back the creditor and thus lead a ‘normal’ life. No, he teams up with his sister and they return the money to one woman, who claims it is hers. The ordeal that he has to face for being honest, is what constitutes the rest of the story and it’s here, delved deep within the story, that one starts asking fundamental questions to oneself.

a hero asghar farhadi

Brick by brick, thread by thread, Farhadi lays bare how difficult it is for a certified ‘criminal’ to belong back to society that abandoned him/her in the first place. I do not need to reveal much of the story but when it comes to a point where one starts doubting oneself regarding the path chosen, that means one has hit the nadir. At that point, one realizes the worthlessness of the situation. It is extremely painful and beautiful at the same time when people/charities/organizations let go of ethics and ethos to just, survive: The ‘greater common good’ as they say. Let’s funnel these funds to a different charitable cause; but hey, you will get your share of good-will!

At the end of all this, falling at the feet of the disgusting social-media to bare out your feelings, to usurp and use one’s son’s stuttering feelings to gain sympathy votes, if this is what constitutes being ‘in the groove’ then to hell with it.

I urge you to watch BETTER CALL SAUL, one of the GREATEST, no, let me correct, THE GREATEST series ever made with Bod Odenkirk as the protagonist [antagonist?]. ‘Breaking Bad’ literally works as an off-shoot for this brilliant written and soul-searching series; a brutal take-down of the so-called ‘perfect’ legal system in the US. Just watch it, and you will get to know the difference between bull-crap rendering of prison-system versus the so-called ‘reformatory’ system.

Farhadi has walked us through the painful divorce system and the ‘real’ work of looking after one’s aged parents in the brilliant, absolutely brilliant and humanistic ‘A Separation’. Farhadi has a way with emotions, and that is, simply put, he understands emotions can vary in different situations; we CANNOT be defined as a whole, by putting us in a precarious situations; our summations is different from the situational emotions. This is his greatest gift as a film-maker; that puts him on par with Manik Da or Michalengeo or Mifune…they understood, that we are greater than our situations…

In one brilliant scene, after Rahim fights with the charity organization that he cannot use his son’s stutter to get him out of jail, and that’s unethical, a niece asks: ‘What’s life in prison like?’