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Film / Baran

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Baran is a 2001 Iranian film directed by Majid Majidi. The movie is set in Turn of the Millennium, when during Taliban years a large number of Afghan refugees live on the outskirts of Tehran, most of them as unregistered workers.

The protagonist is Lateef, a 17-years-old lazy tea boy for a building construction site managed where most of the workers are unregistered Afghans. One day one of them, Najaf, falls from the building and breaks his leg which makes him unable to work. The next day, Soltan, another Afghan worker, brings in Najaf's son Rahmat, who is around 14 years old, to replace his father. Memar, the site foreman, soon realizes that Rahmat is too weak to work in a construction site, and switches jobs between Rahmat and Lateef, who is now old enough to work as a mason. Lateef picks in on Rahmat mistreating him at every occasion. One day, by looking through the door of the storage room where Rahmat prepares the dishes, he is totally shocked to discover that Rahmat is a girl, Baran. Our Lateef seeing Rahmat/Baran combing her long hair (which usually keeps weel-hidden under an hat) is instantly smitten with her and becomes her secret champion, in an increasing desperate escalation of keeping her out of trouble.

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The film was fairly weel-received in Iran and outside, showing also the harsh condition endured by Afghan refugees, who despite getting in and out Iran from Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan are never granted much rights in Iran or elsewhere they usually head.

Baran displays the following tropes:

  • Bilingual Bonus: Since the Afghans also speak Farsi, the ethnic Azeris speak their Azeri dialect leading the Afghans to be frustrated with them.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Lateef manages to see Baran again, who is implied to love him back, and gives some money to help her family. But to do so, he sold his ID card, the last valuable thing he owned, and Baran comes back to Afghanistan, meaning that they'll never see each other again.
  • The Bully: Lateef towards Rahmat, who's younger and helpless and also "stole" his job.
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  • Coming-of-Age Story: The entire story is a growin-up arc for Lateef, who becomes from a lazy and bratty boy to a humble and helpful young man.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Not for a lack of feelings, but because Baran goes back to Afghanistan with her family, and staying in Iran alone was probably not an option.
  • The Dulcinea Effect: Seeing Baran in female clothing the first time is enough for Lateef to be fall hard and become her improbable champion.
  • Feminine Women Can Cook: Subverted. Not a single man in the site wonders why this small boy too weak for carrying a load is so skilled in housework stuff like cooking, cleaning or preparing tea.
  • Graceful in Their Element: Rahmat/Baran is fairly useless in a construction site, but given the job as a tea boy she is far better than Lateef, since it's what she usually does at home with little effort.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: lateef hates Rahmat/Baran at first, because she replaced him as the tea boy because she's younger and weaker.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Memar, despite running a construction site with Afghan cheap labour, is actually quite a good person if not grumpy. He doesn't fire Najaf for being injured, takes his son (actually a daughter) instead of him, ang gives money to his family for helping them with the ordeal.
    • Lateef himself grow to be this as he groes to vsre for Baran and her family.
  • The Klutz: Rahmat/Baran is this when working at the site, doing more harm than good. It's justified since she's actually a girl, and not suited at all to carry heavy burden. Fortunately for her she's more helpful in caring roles.
  • Secret Keeper: Soltan is the only one who knows Baran's gender.
  • Secret Secret-Keeper: Lateef eventually finds out Rahmat/Baran's gender but never tells anyone. At some point Baran figures out he knoes, though.
  • The Speechless: Rahmat/Baran never speaks. Language barrier was never a reason to start (Afghans speak a variant of Farsi that is mutually intellegible with Iranian Farsi, as shown with other Afghan characters) but her behaviour could be explained with two reasons a) a feminine voice would instantly give away her cover b) she's shy and lives in a culture where every contact of an unmarried woman with other men is seen as inappropriate, so she tries to stick to what she's taught as much as she can.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Baran's father gets injured and cannot work for months. As the eldest daughter she's the only one who can provide for the family, so goes working to the construction site dressed as a boy.
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