In an exclusive interview with ifilm, prominent Iranian actor Mohammad-Ali Keshavarz talks about his acting career, particularly his role in ‘Seasoned Rider’ which has been broadcast on ifilm. Keshavarz is currently on ifilm with the series ‘The Patriarch’.
Below is a rough translation of selected parts from the interview conducted by ifilm in Persian:
ifilm: Late director Akbar Khajouee went on to make ‘Seasoned Rider’ after ‘The Patriarch’ which proved to be very popular. You portrayed the main role in both series and you were also a close friend of his. Tell us about those days and the production of the series.
Keshavarz: I believe that Akbar Khajouee was a genius in arts, may he rest in peace. Akbar Mahloujian wrote a story based on Pahlevani and zoorkhaneh rituals and since Khajouee was dedicated to ancient Iranian rituals, he decided to make the series. I believe that Akbar Khajouee and Ali Hatami were among irreplaceable Iranian filmmakers who had their hearts set on arts and culture of the land of Iran; they both made enduring series. They both were very careful when it came to selecting their cast and would choose artists who were studious and could truly understand their character. For them, it was important that the actors or actresses be familiar with Iranian culture and literature. I always thank God that I worked with both directors and an actor and learned honor and nobility from them. [Note: Inscribed on the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage, Pahlevani and zoorkhaneh rituals are a traditional system of athletics originally used to train warriors in Iran. In Persian, Pahlevan means Hero and Zoorkahneh literally translates to House of Power which is the place that the ancient rituals are held]
ifilm: Your involvement in ‘Seasoned Rider’ was a result of your friendship with Akbar Khajouee and your good memories from ‘The Patriarch’ or the script was appealing?
Keshavarz: Khajouee and I were from the same city; Isfahan. We knew each other’s characteristics; Isfahani people have features that are unique to them (laughing). Not taking into account this friendship and acquaintance, the script of ‘Seasoned Rider’ was interesting and nostalgic for me. I used to work out in zoorkhanehs in Isfahan when I was young and some very good memories of those days. The Pahlevans of zoorkhaneh were teachers of philanthropy and patriotism. Based on my knowledge of zoorkhanehs and the successful experience of working with Akbar Khajouee, I accept to perform in ‘Seasoned Rider’.
ifilm: At the time, there were some people who thought that you were repeating the role that you had in ‘The Patriarch’ and of course the fact that the late actress Hamideh Kheirabadi performed with you in both series contributed to this mentality.
Keshavarz: Ms. Kheirabadi was one of the best actresses of Iran and she would completely internalize the role. But no! ‘Seasoned Rider’ was different and was not a repetition; the subject was different. ‘Seasoned Rider’ narrated the story of chivalry and nobility but ‘The Patriarch’ was a social drama. I had to practice a lot for ‘Seasoned Rider’ and the result was a new character which people liked.
ifilm: Do you think that rebroadcasting series like ‘Seasoned Rider’ would be appealing to the today’s youth?
Keshavarz: Of course it will be appealing to the youth because the young generation does not know much about the past and do not have any memory of zoorkhanehs.
ifilm: Tell us about yourself, what keeps you busy these days?
Keshavarz: I am at home busy with physiotherapy and treatment. I often read; mostly precious books like Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh, works of Sa’di and Hafez. I also sometimes watch movie that have recently come out and feel proud of talented and fine directors.
Interview Conducted By: Ghazal Nahani