Rafsanjani’s publicity stunt turns into a flop
A publicity film produced for frontrunner candidate Ayatollah Ali-Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani by one of Iran’s most successful directors has backfired after being shown on national television, according to informal opinion polls taken in dozens of cities across the country.
Kamal Tabrizi, the director who produced the hugely successful comedy Marmulak (The Lizard), which portrayed the life of a thief impersonating a mullah, put in all his artistic talent to come up with a publicity coup for Rafsanjani in the campaign’s closing hours.
The film showed Rafsanjani, the man who has been at or near the apex of all decision-making processes in the Islamic Republic’s quarter century of existence, as a humble, sentimental, soft-spoken “man of the people” who is himself a victim of the clerical regime’s excesses.
Rafsanjani is shown in several scenes without his traditional turban to distance him from the image of “yet another despised mullah”. At one point, while recounting memories of his mentor, Ayatollah Khomeini, Rafsanjani breaks into tears. In one scene, he is holding the hand of a small girl, gently guiding her through a garden. He is also shown using a computer with his grandson.
But perhaps the most risible part of this soap opera is Rafsanjani’s powwow with his family members on whether to run for president again or not. As family members one by one urge him not to run, a pensive Rafsanjani ends the debate with this question, “If I don’t work for the Revolution, who else would?”
Judging by the adverse reaction the film has aroused among viewers, director Tabrizi seems to have flopped in presenting an extreme make-over of Rafsanjani.
Across Iran today, people have been mockingly referring to the publicity stunt as “Marmulak 2”, drawing parallels between Rafsanjani and the comedian in Tabrizi’s original film, who played the role of a thief impersonating a mullah. Rafsanjani, widely regarded in Iran as a man who has built up a huge family fortune by using his powerful position, could easily be identified in the eyes of the public with the central character of Marmulak. READ MORE
Websites and newspapers run by Rafsanjani’s protégés today tried to put on the best face. The website Baztab, run by Rafsanjani protégé Mohsen Rezai, said the film was “an emotional shock that moved many religious people to vote for Hashemi, after he cried while recounting his memories of Imam Khomeini”.