With IRIB Channel 3 acclaimed TV series ‘Gando’ under his belt, Qom-born, Tehran-raised director Javad Afshar took his time picking exactly the right project for his audience. Since 2000 when he first settled on ‘Never Ending Sunset’, Afshar has become a well-known name in Iran national television. He has written, directed, and produced many TV series among which ‘Kimia’ brought him national and international fame.
Javad Afshar: We had something like 450 actors in ‘Kimia’ and I think it would not be fair to say that all the 450 actors of ‘Kimia’ also played roles in ‘Brother’. Over and above that, we had a total of 50 different roles in ‘Brother’ 7-8 out of which were played by ‘Kimia’ actors and it is a typical thing in acting. I do not see any problem here.
This also is an indication of two things. First off, ‘Kimia’ is engraved in people’s minds; that makes it difficult to close eyes to it so soon. Audiences have found it difficult to see the actors of ‘Kimia’ in any other series and this – I think – shows how successful ‘Kimia’ was. Secondly, the actors in ‘Kimia’ were smart enough to show two distinct performances in these two series.
ifilm: What makes you choose an actor for a role? Is it their working background with you or what?
Javad Afshar: The thing is I select 90 percent of my cast team during the first round of the read-through and make my team from the very beginning. I always put myself in the viewers’ shoes and try to look at the story and the characters of the story from their point of view. Later on, I add my personal and professional judgment to it. When I first study a screenplay, I know what I want and achieve it with little change in the whole project.
Javad Afshar: If people had their own version of ending to the story, it means ‘Brother’ could make it winning. The audience tried to bring their favorite character to an end in a way they wanted. This all well indicate the success of a TV drama. However, this is the writer who decides how to end the story. There are always certain characters whose final destination is clear from the very beginning. For instance, Haj Kazem was killed achieving his goals as if he was martyred because he was loyal to his ethical standards till the very end.
To me, ‘Brother’ ended well. If the final episode was to be like any other series that everyone marries in the end or police arrest all the criminals, I would have seriously avoided making it. People are used to see the characters marry at the end of the story or the criminals are punished. The reason why some people complained about how ‘Brother’ was ended was because they are used to see cliché endings.
ifilm: The majority of the series directed by you have been warmly received by audiences. Why is that?
Javad Afshar: I made a pack of 12 to 13 series; and ‘Brother’ makes my 12th series. I also made several telefilms and also staged many plays. Honestly, I can claim that I very well know what my target audience wants exactly. If it is needed to address the emotions of my audience, I go for it. If it is needed to make them think, I make them think. My knowledge of the subject and also my ability to recognize the taste of my audience comes from experience. I think if we find the way to identify the taste of our audience, we can make successful works.
ifilm: As the last question, what is your main concern as a director?
Javad Afshar: I have always had my concerns for fighting against corruption and supporting the economy of my country. This concern of mine has been well depicted in ‘Brother’ and ‘Dirty Money’. When you want to support the internal production cycle and supply chain of your country, the first issue to tackle is the smuggling of importing goods, and when, in different ways, our industry is shattered by smuggling, the economy of the country – and social status alike, are influenced by it all of which lead to corruption. For instance, one might think that smuggling is profitable, but it is a huge damage to a country's economic system, and in the future, the next generation, and even the smuggler’s own child, will be influenced by the consequences. These are the things I care so much about and touched them in many of my series such as ‘Like a Mother’ and ‘Kimia’. I think this is a social issue needed to be tackled upon.