By: Reza Taeb
Shaghayegh Farahani, born on 24 July 1972 in Tehran, Iran is a successful Iranian producer, writer and actress. She is the oldest daughter of veteran Iranian actor Behzad Farahani and stage actress Fahimeh Rahiminia. Her sister is actress Golshifteh Farahani.
Shaghayegh has appeared in more than 70 movies such as ‘Where Are My Shoes’ (Kafshhayam Koo) directed by Kiumars Poorahmad alongside Reza Kianian, Majid Mozaffari and Roya Nonahali. In 2015, she played in company of Mohammad Reza Foroutan in Farzad Motamen’s feature film ‘Twilight’ (Sayeh Roshan). Recently she starred in “Ghayeghran”, a drama feature movie directed by Mohamad Asadnia.
Please introduce yourself and give us a bit of background. Undoubtedly, having artist parents had a great impact on your creative life. Were you interested in acting due to your parents’ involvement in the acting world?
I studied graphic and visual arts in high school, and painting at the university, but unfortunately, I did not finish my bachelor’s degree. Regarding the impact of my parents’ acting on me, in this world according to my observations and understanding, a child’s parents are the most influential people in his or her choice of a job, field of study or the child’s behavioral approaches. My mother and father both studied arts, and I grew up in an art circle where I was influenced a lot by my parents as well as by my peers. Behzad farahani
Your artistry in cinema, theater and television and of course the VODs, has made memories for people for many years. Which art medium is your own preference? Please also describe your favorite genre.
In terms of the priority of theater, television, cinema or VODs, it really does not make any difference to me artistically at this time. But unfortunately, due to Iran’s poor economic conditions, for financial reasons and despite my own wishes, I have had to act in films that were not exactly to my liking. On a personal level, I am interested in playing enduring and challenging roles in different genres, and for me, challenges of different role playing have always been of special importance.
I have therefore mostly tried to avoid similar roles and typecasting. According to the teachings of my parents, I have also tried to respect public opinion and beliefs and to walk shoulder-to-shoulder with people of my country. If I cannot be beneficial and effective, I try not to cause harassment and disrespect to others at least.
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In your opinion, what is the impact of acting schools by theater and cinema artists on the artistic future of Iran? Is there a standard set for these classes?
Regarding these classes, since I am not a teacher, I cannot give a professional opinion. My opinion is based on my personal interests and knowledge. As for the effect of these classes, as long as they are not merely a source of income for their organizers and they have a cultural aspect, they certainly will be effective. Some people assess their own potentials in these classes, appreciating that the path ahead in going on stage is very difficult and simply not what they had in mind. On the other hand, many people discover their real interests; for example, those who have taken these acting classes, but eventually have gotten into screenwriting, stage design, etc., and moved in another direction. And then of course there are those who, despite the high cost of these classes, unfortunately fail and simply remain frustrated.
I once accepted the suggestion of a friend who organizes these acting classes to share my professional experience with some students. I was very excited and at the same time very anxious as I did not have enough self-confidence to take on this assignment. But it was a wonderful and very important experience in my life. Unfortunately, I was unable to send my best students on a fruitful career path as, in this profession, what counts most of all is connections and having an inside track, which has always saddened me immensely.
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Cyberspace in Iran has many fans and critics. The presence of artists and athletes in this space has provided a platform for direct communication with the audience. Has the audience’s criticism disrupted your artistic, intellectual and personal life?
Thank God cyberspace has not been able to affect me. I have always tried to keep my privacy and personal life away from my work life. In general, criticisms and compliments, whether in our private or professional lives, are tolerable. But when an experienced and knowledgeable artist gives an opinion, whether in praise or as a critique, it will be effective as it will get our attention.
In your opinion, how much influence do artists have on social and cultural currents, from the environment to the rights of different social groups, etc.? Do you have a memory or personal experience of this phenomenon?
Artists will definitely have some good effects in certain social and cultural areas of people’s lives. But there have been times when a few of my colleagues have commented on subjects without having any expertise, which in my opinion has brought the respect of other colleagues under question. Wrong opinions weaken the effectiveness of right opinions and may even erase them altogether.
I have many memories in this context, but according to my dear master, even one individual person can save or destroy a whole country with a misguide intention. So, as artists, we should try to make a constructive and positive move, even on a single level. It is true that it can be more effective with more people, but if you are alone, you should not be afraid and you should start a good movement anyway.
For example, about 20 years ago, a group of my artist colleagues and I started a recycling effort. At first, we were not taken seriously, but fortunately I have noticed that in many areas around town wet and dry waste are separated, and this may be a small support for our environmental protection.
Also, I remember in 2006, a group of us together with my parents and a number of my close friends and colleagues (like Ms. Sareh Bayat and Mr. Mohammad Reza Ghaffari) recorded the soundtrack for a CD from a very prestigious college in Spain about what causes global warming. The CD explained how excessive human consumption of meat and dairy products has caused the greatest damage to the environment. We tried making people aware that dairy, contrary to what is believed, can not only cause osteoporosis in some cases, but can also be very harmful in other ways, and that the propaganda for its consumption may be purely for economic reasons.
Do you work in other fields of art?
No, I do not have any other activity; I do photography in a completely personal way, which is related to my field of study as a student in my younger days. My grandfather and his parents were prominent Iranian photographers and I have been interested in photography since I was a child. I stopped painting around 1991-92.