Bicycleran (1987) (aka The Cyclist)
Mohsen Makhmalbaf

“His name is Nasim (Breeze), but he resembles a typhoon. He rides bicycle blindfolded. This man has stopped a train in India with his eyes. In Pakistan, he’s lifted two bulls on a finger and this time he is gonna ride and live on a bicycle for 7 days round the clock.”


The cyclistThe objectives, outlooks and needs of different levels of a community, naturally, do not concur. One man’s grief is another man’s pleasure. Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s Bicycleran (1987) captures this difference in the context of an event as viewed from people from different sections of the society. Though a bit more dramatic than most films then from Iran, Bicycleran has enough raw power and truth value to be classified under the neo-realistic genre.

Nasim is a Afghani labourer whose wife is sick and is in need of immediate treatment. Times are hard and labourers cannot expect more than 50 Tomans per day for their work. But Nasim’s requirements are higher and he tries everything he can including a feigned suicide attempt to blackmail people into giving money. Finally, through a bookie, Nasim agrees to put up a show where he would be riding a bicycle for 7 continuous days. The show begins amidst a lot of objections and . with time pedestrians and vendors begin to gather around him. Nasim witnesses his own exploitation by various people from different strata of society – vendors making it their sales hub, middlemen betting and common people getting relief from his plight. In spite of a lot of physical, emotional and social obstacles Nasim manages to finish the 7 days. At the time of glory, Nasim is asked to dismount from the bicycle by the reporters. He is indifferent to all the commotion (possibly because of the physical and mental fatigue) and continues to ride in the circular path.

The film can be viewed as an allegory of the struggles of the working class, a society that exploits them and an upper class that views them as objects of amusements. The recurrent themes of roundness that occur through the images of wheels, cycles and structures signify the vicious circle of fate and inevitability that the working class treads in. The film won the best film at the Hawaii Film Festival in 1987.