NARGIS MAGAZINE
Interview

20 years later...

Man and woman - the eternal tie. She is the actress of Turkish cinema Meral Konrat, time has no power over her. He is the beloved actor Fakhraddin Manafov, National Artist of Azerbaijan. But even 20 years later, meeting on this side of the screen over a cup of coffee to talk about the past, they are again for everyone as Tahmina and Zaur - the heroes of Rasim Ojagov’s film “Tahmina”, based on Anar’s novel “The Sixth Floor of a Five-Storey Building”. In a cozy cafe, we overheard their quiet, almost a whisper, conversation, their never-before-heard, almost poetic memories of their experiences on the set and their deeply personal perception of the still relevant novel.

Fakhraddin: Meral, how do you think, why didn't Tahmina fight for Zaur? After all, she loved him so much.

Meral: You know, at that time everything was much more complicated. For example, remember the threats and insults of Zaur's mother, who all the time threatened to complain about Tahmina to the police. Perhaps this would not stop Tahmina herself. But she expected Zaur to stand up for her in defiance of all fears and threats in order to feel behind him, as if behind a wall. But Zaur was not capable of this, and Tahmina lost her hope. Therefore, a more reasonable question would be: why did Zaur leave her?

F.: I guess no time and no system can erase from a man his desire to love and fight for his love. Unfortunately, Zaur did not become a knight without fear and reproach, who would have managed to overcome both family chains and public opinion - “a spring of honor, our idol”. He, like many, could not resist the people's court, and it's scary. But Fakhraddin Manafov could, because I know how to love to madness, and for my love I am ready to sacrifice everything, even my life. But Zaur is just a character, an extract from the novel ...

M.: But after all, this so-called “extract” is found very often...

F.: That is why this picture gained a stunning success, since it became a reflection of our realities, our aspirations, showing love and a fairy tale in which there is a hint ...

M.: You mention the subject of Zaur's weakness, and I want to mention the helplessness of Tahmina. After all, she was barren, and perhaps this is the most significant reason for her refusal to fight for her love. Tahmina could step over everything, but not through Zaur’s happiness. She understood that as a woman could give him the whole world, but she was unable to give birth to a child ...

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F.: But why Zaur?

M.: This is love, it is blind. For sure, Tahmina wanted to believe that Zaur loved her as much as she loved him, but that was an illusion. Tahmina sacrificed everything for Zaur: marriage, career, reputation, accepted for the sake of her love all the insults. Love knows no pride, no humiliation, no material goods, no status, it recognizes only itself... You can fall in love with because of the eyes, a phrase thrown in passing, in human hands... Sometimes the love object is absolutely not important, in the case of Tahmina it was just that. And, of course, she was waiting for a return. And who was Zaur? Just a jealous young man dependent on family and society. But even in spite of all this, Tahmina loved him with all her heart. Yes, at some point she tried to distance herself from him, but only because circumstances forced her to do so. After releasing him, she sacrificed her life.

F.: It is strange that for some reason, many people perceived Zaur as some unfortunate Romeo, but this is far from the case. He is Daddy's son, who, roughly speaking, gave the car for good behavior.

M.: Yes, but believe me that when a woman really loves, she absolutely doesn’t care who he is ... And the question remains: how could such a “daddy son” get the attention of this very self-confident woman and subdue her ?

F.: Tahmina obeyed to Zaur, and he to his surroundings. He is an ordinary Baku boy from a good family, who could easily have been seduced by any pretty girl. This is a common type. Zaur was obsessed with possessiveness just like his parents. And possessiveness destroys. But the value of the human spirit is above all, and if a few decades ago, an ordinary Baku guy, Zaur, did not have the courage to fight for a woman like Tahmina, then now it’s not worth discussing him as a phenomenon. But Anar’s novel itself became a kind of response to the need of readers in such a work, and therefore turned out to be so reliable.

M.: The fact is that even if Zaur had the courage to remain, yet they would not have a family. Zaur's parents would not allow it, and their life would turn into a nightmare. But even in spite of all this, I am deeply convinced that Tahmina had a chance to experience the most beautiful and pure love. Yes, this love costed her life, but in this life she experienced what little was given.

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F.: I can not disagree. I think in their family life there would be nothing but quarrels. It is even scary to imagine what degree his jealousy would have achieved if Zaur had married Tahmina against of all odds. After all, he lived all the time in doubts that she was cheating on him.

M.: Zaur’s jealousy and mistrust is also a kind of possessiveness.

F.: For sure! And whatever Tahmina did, she would still not be able to win his trust. Meral, if you are not against, I would like to tell a story about you.

M.: Please, do.

F .: 20 years ago there was a great love in your life that your relatives and friends knew about. And in Azerbaijan, I was devoted to your secret, our translator Fatima and the late director Rasim Ojagov. You were madly in love and spent all your free time and money on telephone conversations. I will never forget how during our filming in Petersburg you complained of insomnia because of the white nights. And we, to pass the time, went with you to the casino, played until the morning, and after we went back on the set. Why did I mention this topic? The fact is that I was often asked one question: were we close friends behind the scenes, did we have an affair? We haven't had a novel with you. But nobody believed it, they said: you look at each other with such loving eyes, is it possible to play like that? 20 years later, I will reveal a secret: the fact is that it was you who were madly in love with another man, and that hurt my feelings! How is it so, why she does not pay any attention to me, treats me so superficially, sometimes even biased - it enraged me! I remember once you wanted to chewing gum, and I rushed to find out a branded chewing gum. With a satisfied look, I went to the dressing room with a trophy in my hands, and you shrugged it off - I don’t want to. I got angry, threw this gum through the window, you turned around, looked at me haughtily and smirked. And I wanted badly to fall in love with you. I was very angry and offended. But then, your state of love fits perfectly into your role…

M.: Indeed, having familiarized myself with the script, I became so intimate with my heroine, I got so close to her that at some point I believed - I am Tahmina! This is the main component of acting, which is why it happens that I often refuse the role if I do not feel it. I will always be grateful to Rasim Ojagov for the fact that he so beautifully transferred Anar's novel to the film. This picture is still loved by everyone; it has become a classic of Azerbaijani cinema.

F.: Rasim Ojagov could amazingly feel and transmit emotions. He started as a photographer, then he was an outstanding cameraman. There were moments when he specifically painted how and what will be captured on. He even painted the faces of Tahmina and Zaur.

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M.: Zaur originally was played by another actor with whom half of the film was shot. You will not believe, but I was very worried, because this person did not cause me any emotions. We did not feel each other. For the weekend, I returned to Istanbul, and then the director called and said that we would retake everything once again, and Zaur would be played by Fakhraddin Manafov. I was elated, since I was already familiar with your work. And now I am very glad that you played the role of Zaur.

F.: Thank you, I am also very happy about it. You know, I suddenly wondered why we, loving some, marry others?

M.: I find it difficult to answer this question ...

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F.: But I know the answer. They may not consider me cynical, but I think this is all because we all love freedom. Returning to Zaur: even while on a cruise with his young wife, he kept thinking about Tahmina. Because she gave him such freedom - in relationship, in communication, in bed - which he could not even dream of. Therefore, giving freedom to a partner, you make it so that he (or she) will never forget you ...

M.: You're right, for sure. And even now I feel sorry for Tahmina, because her attitude towards Zaur was very special.

F .: You know, Meral, it hurts me too. But look at it from the other side. A young guy meets with a married woman, she is always in the center of all the gossips, add to this the mentality features. If Zaur really loved Tahmina, he would close his eyes to everything, he would not be interested in her past. He simply did not love her. He loved her body, her company, her bed, after all, but no more. And that is why he so easily abandoned her. The late Rafik Babayev wrote a wonderful “Əlvida” - “Goodbye” song for this film, in which such words: “Görüşdük nə çətin, ayrıldıq, ayrıldıq nə asan” (“How difficult it was to meet and how easy it was to go away”). These are heartfelt words, and in them is the paradigm of Zaur, his leitmotif, his insides. How hard it was for him to get Tahmina, so easily and simply he broke up with her. Zaur is not Romeo, not Majnun. He married and lived on happily ever after ...

M.: Do you remember the saying: “When a cat cannot reach the meat, it says that the meat smells bad.” Imagine: a young, beautiful, successful woman, quite progressive for her time, works in television and, inaccessible to everyone, becomes an object of gossips. But she loved only Zaur and died with this love. This problem exists today: women, if they are successful, independent and yet known, simply they are not loved and others often tell stories about them. But still, Tahmina made a mistake - when she met Zaur, she was still married, and at that time this was the main argument against her.

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F.: By the way, the question of whether she had other novels remained unanswered...

M .: No, she had no other relationship, she just knew how to be friends with men. The same Spartak and Mukhtar were actually her friends. Perhaps they were in love with her, but not she with them. Tahmina, being a very self-confident woman, wanted Zaur to have the same confidence.

F.: Zaur is a type of a person who is with us today. We are surrounded by similar Zaurs who do not know and do not want to know the taste of freedom. This is their biggest trouble. And I personally, like Fakhraddin, addressing Zaur, saying: “I know what freedom is! Freedom is the highest happiness! There is nothing better than allowing yourself to be who you are.” And Tahmina, as a person, was incomparably stronger. It is not by chance that the film is named after her. Rasim Ojagov - not only a deep director, but also an astute reader - did it intentionally. For him in this story was only one - Tahmina.

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