Sokout ( the silence) , Iranian film maker Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s 2007 release, leaves one surrealistically floating in twilight hues. Through an intensely affectionate door, we walk into a little boy Khorshid’s dark world of sweet sounds , silent waters and crimson cherries, while his little friend Nadereh dances to dulcets with petalled petunia nails and a porcelain chastity so ethereal, that one fears for her fragile beauty.
While Khorshid tunes his master’s delroba, Nadereh prances with the cherries dangling on her ears and hands swaying to the waves of his untuned stringed notes. The effect of the scene is ephemeral. So are most of his other imageries in the film. Just when we think we know what we see, the moment turns into a surreal canvas where we no longer know. The beauty of the film lies in this shift in our state of mind where we move from a bourgeois information seeking state to the state where we no longer feel the need to know or be informed. We simply surrender to its experiential spell.
Replete with metaphors , the film takes on a poetic liberty typical of Makhmalbaf.Perceiving a world through blind Khorshid’s ears, the movie captures sound in its most beautiful visual form. Sights that we see, he hears.Little Khorshid , however, hears only sweet sounds.. be it losing his way in the market following a folk singer, or teaching pretty schoolgirls poetry from their own textbooks. So he is made to stuff cotton in his ears, lest he be distracted on the bus and lose his way . Silence for Khorshid , sounds like the lapping waters of the stream where his mother catches fish for a living.
With childlike naïve optimism and with a brazen outlook of an observer of life , the director takes us through a rich canvas of light, colour and texture, and turns them all into sounds for the boy. The boy lives in poverty. He works to support his lonely mother. They face eviction at the hands of their landlord. Time , as always, is cruel in running faster in the face of such situations. These are factual stains of their lives. And the director leaves them untouched with a dignified silence. What he does is to show us the beauty, the wonder, the love and the innocence of purity. The affectionate love of the director towards this boy is embodied in the tone in which Khorshid's mother calls out to him every single time,'Khorshid... Khorsheed jaan!'
Khorshid needs only his sounds, his music and Beethoven’s fifth symphony to make him feel complete . Nadereh , needs only her mirror to make her a queen at the banks of the stream. The street singer needs only his instrument to play out his loneliness for him. Makhmalbaf needs only this silent song , to make us hear the sound and colour of silence.