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Khosrow Shakibai (1944 – 2008)
Was a Star
by Mehrzad Danesh

A large crowd gathered in front of Vahdat Hall, which is one of the most important playhouses in Tehran, on July 21, 2008, to take part in funeral of an Iranian actor. Before that, Tehran had witnessed such a big gathering for bidding farewell to an Iranian actor only on two occasions. The first was in 1996 when Ali Hatami, the seasoned director and writer who was interested in Iranian history during the past 200 years passed away and the second instance was funeral of Mohammad Ali Fardin, a pre-revolution cinema star, which led to a heavy traffic jam. This time, funeral for an actor caused a similar jam; an actor whose credit in the Iranian cinema combined with his technical abilities and high instinctual understanding gave him a unique standing: he was Khosrow Shakibai who succumbed to hepatic cancer. Shakibai was born in a southern Tehran neighborhood in 1944. Like many movie buffs, he became interested in cinema right from early childhood, but since he lost his father as a teenager, he had to work in different professions as a tailor and elevator repair man in order to make a living for his family. When 18, he started his career in theatrical plays after studying viewpoints of Brecht and Stanislavsky. He was a member of Tuska group from 1968 to 1970 and appeared in many plays. In parallel, he was active for a short time as a dubbing artist because he had a special and husky voice, before being employed by theater department of the then Ministry of Culture and Arts. He appeared for the first time in a television series called Samak the Picaro (Mohammad Reza Aslani) before playing roles in television series called Instant (Mohammad Saleh-Ala) and a 16-mm film called The Inscription (Fariborz Saleh). After the Islamic Revolution, he continued to appear in theatrical plays until he was assigned to a supporting role in Massoud Kimiaei’s The Red Line in 1982, which marked the beginning of his professional career in films. That film, however, was banned and Shakibai’s performance was not appreciated. Although his next films signaled the rise of a powerful actor, due to structural weaknesses of those films, his performance was overshadowed by those weaknesses, especially because on-the-set sound recording was not common in the Iranian cinema and films were dubbed. Therefore, his pleasant voice, which gave him a unique identity, was seldom heard. He appeared in different roles in those films: a leftist revolutionary worker, a middle-aged Baluch, a man caught in a family crisis, a teacher at a school for children with hearing problem, a thief, a revolutionary Muslim opposing Shah’s regime, and assistant locomotive driver...

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