Parviz Khatibi (1923-1993)

Seh Mullah (1985)

He was a prominent Iranian journalist, writer, director, playwright, songwriter and social and political critic. Parviz Khatibi was born on May 18th, 1923 in Tehran, Iran. His mother was the daughter of Mirza Reza Kermani, a liberal political activist and the assassin of Naser' din Shah Qajar. On his fathers side his great grandfather was a famed preacher in the town of Noor, in the province of Mazandaran.

Khatibi had an interest at an early age for poetry, and reading. He enjoyed such works of "Hafez" and "Sadi". At age 13, he wrote his first poem to be published in the only satire newspaper of that time called "Towfigh". By the age of 17 he became "Towfigh's" youngest editor in chief. At age 21, Khatibi finished schooling at the American College in Tehran. He then started to publish his own weekly political satire paper called "Bahram", and later "Ali Baba". Boldly and at criticizing the Iranian social situations of the time, "Ali Baba" was banned from publication by the government numerous times until it was finally forced to discontinue completely. Khatibi then began to publish yet another paper. Staying true to his views, he published "Haji Baba", which went on to become one of the most popular papers of its time. In his early twenties Khatibi began writing political Satire songs as a form of entertainment for theatres during intermissions. His fearless social and political lyrics became the main attraction of the four major theaters of those days. Later he became one of the first and the youngest accomplished comedy playwrights of that era. He staged popular plays in Tehran and many other provinces which would go on to sell out for the months of their running. Not only limiting himself to the theatrical and radio world, he attempted filmmaking. He once again succeeded in becoming one the first writer/directors of his time. In his efforts to make films, he produced, wrote and directed over 23 works all together.

Khatibi had also found interest in radio plays, and proved successful, writing over 3,000 radio plays. In the early days of Radio Iran, Khatibi created live comedy shows using famous theatre actors and actress of the time. In later years, this show would evolve into a 4 hour morning show with millions of listeners around the country.

His artistic ventures came to a sudden halt by the summer of 1953. At this time, British and American governments initiated a joint plan for the covert overthrow of Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh, the Prime Minister of Iran. The decision was made in June 1953 to replace Dr. Mossadegh with General Fazlollah Zahedi; one of the men arrested in February 1953 on charges of plotting to overthrow the nationalist government, ironically enough. So, as the time of the Nationalist government died out, so did the era of free press.

Khatibi's magazine "Haji Baba" was banned by law, and Parviz Khatibi was imprisoned and banned from working for any Iranian government entity for many years to come.

After the Revolution Khatibi once again began publication of "Haji Baba" but the short lived freedom of press of the Islamic Republic of Iran again banned the popular weekly paper and forced Khatibi into exile.

While in Exile, Khatibi began publishing "Haji Baba" once more, but this time in the United States. He continued to criticize the social and political situation under the ruling of the mullahs in Iran. He was on various radio and television stations, continuously getting his message across to the public in any way he could. He put on a variety of live plays which proved popular, and profound in their hidden meanings. These political endeavors were a prominent part of Parviz Khatibi's life until a week before his death in 1993, in Los Angeles, California at the age of 71.

Khatibi's memory and art continue to stay persevered, even in his death. He was not only an artist, but a political revolutionary who influenced the Iranian world of artistic expression, even years after his death.

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