The Lor Girl

English Title: The Lor Girl

Original Title: Dokhtar-e Lor

Country of Origin: Iran

Studio: Imperial Film of India

Director: Ardeshir Irani, Abdolhossein Sepanta

Producer(s): Ardeshir Irani

Screenplay: Rostam Irani, AD Irani

Cinematographer: Rostam Irani, Ardeshir Irani

Art Director: Abdolhossein Sepanta

Runtime: 155 minutes

Genre: Melodrama, Adventure

Starring/Cast: Hadi , Rouhangiz Saminejad, Abdolhossein Sepanta

Year: 1932

Volume: Iranian

The Lor Girl is about Golnar, a teahouse maid who falls in love with Jafar, a government agent. She was kidnapped by bandits in her childhood and now Gholi Khan, the chief of the bandits, has a lustful eye for her. Gholi Khan asks Jafar to join him and work for the bandits, but Jafar refuses. Then Gholi Khan imprisons Jafar but Golnar deceives the gang and helps to release him. Jafar finally murders a number of bandits and also Gholi Khan. Fearing the revenge of the bandits, the couple flee to Bombay and later return to Iran after the 1920 coup, when they hear news of the motherland’s progress.

The story of The Lor Girl, the first Iranian talkie movie produced in India, was supposed to take place in Iran, and costumes and props to reconstruct an Iranian location had to be brought from Iran. The director, Abdolhossein Sepanta, who is acknowledged as the father of Iranian sound films, had almost despaired of finding an actress to play Golnar, when Rouhanguiz Saminejad, wife of a studio employee volunteered to play the role. She had a heavy Kermani accent and Sepanta had to make changes to the script to cast her. Casting for other parts presented no specific problems: Hadi Shirazi and Sohrab Puri could still speak Farsi despite their many years in India.
Although the film title and posters credit Ardeshir Irani with the direction of the film, there is good reason to believe that Sepanta had a greater share in the creation of the film. Publicity materials for The Lor Girl (and also the final sequence of the film) would seem to indicate that its producers were fully aware of the political atmosphere prevailing during the reign of Reza Shah, and of the fact that the regime relied heavily on mass media. Sepanta was a man of letters and a prominent scholar in pre-Islamic literature, but he seems to have been unaware of the social conditions of the country and was easily duped by the official propaganda about the country’s ‘great progress and the establishment of order and social justice’. The Lor Girl illustrates the effect of this propaganda on Sepanta’s nationalistic sentiments. Concerning his motives in making The Lor Girl, Sepanta explains:

As it was the first Iranian sound film to be presented abroad I felt it should present a bright picture of Iran, and thus I fell more or less in line with government propaganda [...] but I have to admit that the film was a great boost for the nationalistic pride of expatriate Iranians.

The Lor Girl was released both in Tehran and India and well received by Iranians and the Parsi Indian population. The financial success of the film encouraged the Imperial Film Company of Bombay to produce a few more Iranian films with Sepanta such as Ferdowsi and Shirin va Farhad.  

Author of this review: Massoud Mehrabi