Fiction films in Iran started with two silent comedies Abi and Rabi (1931) and Hadji Aqa, the Cinema Actor (1933), both directed by Avanes Oganiance. The first film was a light comedy, with no other purpose but to make the audience laugh, while the second film, beyond the laughter it brought about, had a social theme, showing the contrast of tradition and modernity in the Iranian society. Hadji Aqa was the first Iranian “film-within-a-film” and a kind of pre-post-modern cinema, which has preserved its novelty as a unique and exceptional experience. But the film had a meager box office success and was not embraced by the audiences at the time, since, with the advent of sound and ever-increasing popularity of sound films, people didn’t pay much attention to silent films anymore. On the other hand, the film did not have the common narrative style and attractive ups-and-downs of the standard style of story-telling people liked to follow.
At the same time, however, the first Iranian sound film, The Lor Girl (1933), a musical melodrama, was screened, becoming a blockbuster. Abdolhossein Sepanta was the writer, artistic director and the main actor, while Ardeshir Irani was credited as the technical director. The film, made in India, with Indian film industry facilities, tells the story of Jafar, an Iranian army officer, who is dispatched to Lorestan, a province in central Iran, to suppress Gholi Khan, a local bandit, in the meantime falling in love with Golnar, the Lor girl of the title. He succeeds in his mission, leaves the country, going to Bombay, India, and returns after some years to rejoice by seeing the progress made in his homeland, and decides to live happily ever after with Golnar, his beloved wife.
The Lor Girl was a melodramatic love story, inspired by components of Indian melodramas, and combining love, separation, struggles against injustice, tear and laughter, songs and music, it could successfully attract the Iranian film-going audience’s attention. In later years The Lor Girl became the eternal model of Iranian films; and melodrama, in principle, turned into the prevailing genre of the Iranian cinema...