Jabbarli – founder of the National Film Dramaturgy

By Laman Ismayilova

Jafar Jabbarli is a great Azerbaijani playwright and one of the founders of the national film dramaturgy. He occupied a prominent place in the development of Azerbaijani art and literature as a playwright, poet, theater director, translator and screenwriter.

He was a prominent representative of progressive romanticism, whose works reflected the sharp contradictions of Azerbaijani society.

Jabbarli started writing at an early age. His first poem was published in 1911 in the local newspaper Hagigat-i Afkar. Over the next few years he wrote over 20 plays, as well as stories, poems, essays and articles.

He has also translated European classics, such as Othello and Hamlet by Shakespeare, The Marriage of Figaro by Pierre Beaumarchais, etc.

The writer’s focus was on acting where he achieved huge success. His plays Baku War, Devoted Sariyya or Laughter Through Tears, Shah Nasraddin, Bride of Fire, Sevil and Almaz gained popularity.

In his plays, Jabbarli was keen on the freedom of women, the elimination of gender inequality, and the solution of problems related to mass ignorance among women.

Two of her plays, Sevil and Almaz, both written in 1928, focused on the role of women and their struggle against patriarchy.

In 1929 the film Sevil was made based on the play of the same name. It was the first national film against gender inequality.

In this play, Jabbarli describes two women, Sevil, a beautiful woman, who obeyed her husband without question, and Dilbar, Balash’s mistress, and a man named Balash, who disliked her past, disowned traditions and customs and turned away from his own father.

Sevil is the image of a woman who has abandoned all her fears and doubts. The piece shows the transformation of the young woman into an active fighter for a new life. With great difficulty, Jabbrali managed to find an Azerbaijani woman, who agreed to star in the film. Izzat Orujova, the country’s first film actress starred in domestic cinema without a veil, which was a very bold step for that time.

Inspired by the success of the play Sevil, Jafar Jabbarli began working on a screenplay for the film Almaz. Unfortunately, he was unable to complete it due to health issues. His friends and colleagues continued his film activities and completed filming for the film which was released after Jabbarli’s death. The film tells the story of Almaz, who was not afraid to run into a “kulak” – a rich peasant, called Haji Ahmad. She fought against the kulaks, started a revolution in the village, led her struggle and won.

After so many years, Jabbarli’s legacy continues to inspire people. The museum that bears his name was established in 1934. More than 137,000 pieces are kept in the Jafar Jabbarli Theater Museum.

The museum’s collection includes valuable exhibits related to the history of theater, such as manuscripts, role writing books, photos and negatives of different theatrical performances, sound recordings, sketches of clothing and decoration for plays, and much more. All materials are collected chronologically. Here is a complete picture of the development of Azerbaijani professional theater.

The Jafar Jabbarli State Theater Museum systematically organizes events dedicated to prominent theatrical personalities, lectures and exhibitions. In 2004, the Union of Theater Workers presented the museum with the Golden Dervish Award for the acquisition and storage of theater history materials.

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