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Get to know mega-budget Iranian TV series

ifilm English breaks down the most expensive Iranian TV series ever made.

Since its launch date, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) has screened many TV series among which some have carved their way into the minds of the audience. However, among the long list of IRIB-produced TV series, there are some series that have cost so much to make while paying off the huge price tag in the end.

In the following report, ifilm English intends to break down the most expensive Iranian TV series ever made.


Imam Ali (AS)

Undoubtedly, ‘Imam Ali (AS)’, directed by Davoud Mir-Baqeri, is one of the best epic/history television series ever made. Few works could be found out there that are able to stand up to this series. It is no exaggeration to say that ‘Imam Ali (AS)’ is a glitter in Mir-Baqeri’s resume. 

‘Imam Ali (AS)’ cost an exceptional amount due in large part to the series’s massive crew, many of whom are the best in their field, as well as expensive voice actors.

Some of the long list of the acclaimed actors appeared in the series include late Mehdi Fathi, Daryoush Arjmand, Behzad Farahani, Parviz Parastouee, Mohammad-Reza Sharifinia, Asghar Hemmat and late Hossein Panahi.   

Perhaps, one of the main reasons behind the success of ‘Imam Ali (AS)’ was the length of time spent by Mir-Bagheri on writing the screenplay; and to do so, he studied so many valid sources. 

The screenplay of ‘Imam Ali (AS)’ was endorsed in 1991 with the initial title ‘A Thorn in Throat’. Mir-Baqeri, then, was asked to rewrite it; and finally the most popular religious Iranian TV series entered pre-production stage in 1994. ‘Imam Ali (AS)’ took four years to be made; and one year later it went on air.    

According to many reports, ‘Imam Ali (AS)’ went through budget amendment over 10 times during the four years of production; and eventually, it was made with a budget approximate to 20 billion and 690 million Rials. The cost was hugely high compared to the time it was made. Some say ‘Imam Ali (AS)’ is the highest quality historical TV series ever produced by IRIB.

The high production cost paid off in the end as the series was warmly received by the audience.


Prophet Joseph

Joining ‘Imam Ali (AS)’ on the list of most expensive TV series ever produced is the 2008 release of ‘Prophet Joseph’ penned, produced and directed by late Farajollah Salahshour.   

‘Prophet Joseph’ was faced with wide-ranging reviews since Salahshour was not a big name in filmmaking as he appeared mostly as an actor before the camera of many other filmmakers. Salahshour could bring so many people, both national and international audiences, to TV screen with his historical drama.

‘Prophet Joseph’ makes one of the most star-studded Iranian TV series, introducing world-famous Mostafa Zamani as a young talent to Iranian cinema.   

It is worth noting that the biggest expenses for this series’s production came from the ground-breaking visual effects.  As reported by the director, ‘Prophet Joseph’ cost 64 billion Rials.


In the Eye of the Storm

Included on our list of the most expensive TV productions would undoubtedly be ‘In the Eye of the Storm’ directed by Masoud Jafari-Jozani.

The screenplay to Jozani’s blockbuster TV series took 2 years to accomplish following five years of shooting time.

‘In the Eye of the Storm’ narrates the momentous historical and political events took place in three periods of time during 1951, 1941 and 1981 in Iran. The first part encompasses the end of the Qajari and Pahlavi dynasty. The second part, however, delves upon the World War 2 with the third part portraying what has happened after the Islamic Revolution of Iran.

Jozani spent so much time to gather together a professional cast team made of some of the high-rated actors in order to make a high-quality TV series.  

Given the already preposterously high cost of the production, ‘In the Eye of the Storm’ was made using 480 different locations with trips made to 10 Iranian cities.

The music score of the series was also composed by one of the acclaimed maestros of Iranian contemporary classical music named Hossein Alizadeh.  

Jozani once mentioned that ‘In the Eye of the Storm’ cost 120 billion Rials. However, according to Jozani, it was the least budget spent on a TV series while most of the cast team did not even get their real paychecks.

‘In the Eye of the Storm’ lived up to its insanely high expenses as the series had a large number of audiences during screen time.


‘The Mukhtar Narrative’

Swooping in at the bottom of our list is ‘The Mukhtar Narrative’ produced by Mahmoud Fallah.

‘The Mukhtar Narrative’ kicked off production in 2004; and pursued up until 2009. It is a successful attempt by Davoud Mir-Baqeri following the largely success of ‘Imam Ali (AS)’ years back.   

After ‘Imam Ali (AS)’, Mir-Baqeri embarked on several historical projects like ‘A Passenger to Rey’ and ‘The Lost Innocence’. However, ‘The Mukhtar Narrative’, compared to his other works, experienced an arduous film shoot.

The series came out in 2010 and starred some Iranian big shots. Over 140 actors were cast in this Iranian epic/history television series with a budget of 200 billion Rials.    

The story reviews the events leading to the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (AS). The series also deals with sixteen years of Mukhtar’s life and includes the death of Muawiyah, the succession of Yazid, and the events leading to Ashura and whatever related to the uprising of Mukhtar until his and his companions’ martyrdom.

The series was produced in forty 60-min long episodes; and was shot in various locations in different Iranian cities, including Tehran, Qazvin, Takestan, Varamin, Abadan, Shoushtar, Shahriyar, Aran and Bidgol, Eslamshahr and Sahroud.

Part of the reason for the high expenses of the series can be attributed to the high cost of costume design. It also took 200 carpenters to build the sets and there were over 7,000 props involved in the series.