Paying homage to a pre-revolution superstar in Tehran turned into a large and noisy protest against the ruling establishment on Sunday, May 27.
Nasser Malek Motiee, 88, passed away on Friday evening of kidney failure in a hospital in the capital city.
Although he was barred from appearance in movies and TV series for four decades, still thousands of Iranians took to the streets to pay homage to him. Even young men and women, born long after Malek Motiee was barred from screens, came in large numbers to pay homage.
Those taking part in the funeral ceremony were particularly angry about Iran’s state TV’s behavior. The TV did not allow two recent interviews with the superstar to be aired. These would have been Malek Motiee’s only chance to talk to his fans on national TV, although he occasionally spoke to his fans on social media.
Thousands of people, who had poured into the streets to attend his funeral, chanted slogans condemning the regime for banning Malek Motiee from performing in movies and TV series.
Borrowing a catch a phrase from one of his best movies, people chanted, “Qeisar! Help! They slaughter the people!”
Meanwhile, in an unprecedented event, the voice of one of Malek Motiee’s fellow actors, US based exiled actor Behrouz Vosouqi was aired for the people attending the funeral ceremony.
Vosouqi told mouners that the Islamic regime had banned artists like him and Malek Motiee from the screens for forty years.
Malek Motiee was a popular superstar before the Islamic Revolution in Iran and appeared in more than 100 movies and TV series. After the 1979 revolution, he appeared in only two movies. Both were quickly pooled from the screens by regime hardliners.
“I entered cinema with empty hands and lack of knowledge and unsupported, but with love. People ignored our mistakes, and it would be a pity if we do not appreciate them,” Malek Motiee once said.
Born in Tehran in 1930, he studied physical education at the Tehran Higher Education College and pursued an educator’s career as a sports teacher at several of Tehran’s schools.
Later, he stepped into the magical world of silver screen and made his debut in 1949 with “Spring Variety”.
For the first time in almost four decades, daily papers were allowed to publish his pictures and pay homage to him on first pages that led to a significant increase in their circulation.
Meanwhile, actors and actresses grabbed the chance to barrage state-run Radio & TV with criticism for totally ignoring Malek Motiee and other pre-Islamic Revolution stars in its shows and newscasts.
Speaking at a ceremony at Iranian filmmakers’ trade union, prominent actor Parviz Parastoee criticized Iran’s state-run TV for ignoring Malek Motiee for so many years and showing pictures of him only after his death.
According to social media, the heavy presence of security forces, supported by motorbike riding plainclothesmen was dominating Malek Motiee’s funeral and in some occasions, they fired tear gas to disperse people chanting angry slogans against the Islamic Republic and its authorities,
Malek Motiee was buried in a cemetery exclusively allocated to Iranians who have been involved in music, arts and Cinema.