Iranians on social media were amused after a photo of Iran's much celebrated and censored 73-year-old novelist Mahmoud Dowlatabadi emerged on Twitter, showing him sitting with a look of indifference next to the man in charge of censorship in Iran – the Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Ali Jannati. The photo was shot at the funeral of musician Mohammad Reza Lotfi.
In the post below BBC Persian presenter Ali Hamedani described the photo:
ديدني: علي جنتي، دستيار حسن روحاني و كلنل ما محمود دولت آبادي! كلنل كراواتي ما، بي تفاوت، سيگار دود مي كند pic.twitter.com/roFOb0c0Ts 
— Ali Hamedani (@BBCHamedani) May 4, 2014 
“Must see: Ali Jannati, Rouhani's man, and our own Colonel Mahmoud Dowlatabadi. Our tie wearing Colonel, indifferently puffs his cigarette.”
@GEsfandiari  حرکتش قوی بود. :) از صبح حال کردم باهاش.
— Nariman Gharib (@ListenToUs) May 4, 2014 
“@GEsfandiari His move was strong :). I've been enjoying it since this morning.”
@ListenToUs  نگاه و حالت آقاي دولت آبادي فوق العاده است.
— Golnaz Esfandiari (@GEsfandiari) May 4, 2014 
“@ListenToUS Mr. Dowlatabadi's look and gesture are brilliant.”
The photo left a poignant mark on viewers familiar with the work of both Lotfi and Dowlatabadi, which have been banned on occasion by Iran’s Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. In another image, covered less prominently on social media, Dowlatabadi and Jannati are captured in cordial conversation.
دولتآبادی و جنتی( وزیر فرهنگ) از نمایی دیگر… pic.twitter.com/jMm0WgJav6 
— Sam.Kia (@Sam1Kia) May 5, 2014 
“Dowlatabadi and Jannati from another perspective.”
Dowlatabadi was invited to eulogize Lotfi’s life and career at the ceremony. The two were known to have spent 10 years developing an oral and musical rendition of Dowlatabadi’s famous 3000-page, 10-volume epic novel Kelidar.
Dowlatabadi told ISNA reporters , “Our work on Kelidar began years ago, even before we applied to distribute our work through the Ministry of Islamic Culture and Guidance, which was rejected.”
— Hanif Z. Kashani (@hanifzk) May 4, 2014 
Dowlatabadi is a celebrated contemporary Iranian writer, having won the 2013 Jan Michalski prize in literature for his novel The Colonel. The novel is about the 1979 Iranian Revolution, and its violent effects on a Colonel in the Shah's army and his family. The book is available in English and German, but has not been authorized to be published within Iran by the Ministry.
Dowlatabadi recently received criticism from dissident and exiled musician Shahin Najafi in the video below entitled, “A message from Shahin Najafi to the artists who welcomed the Akhoond [cleric] Rouhani at Rudaki Hall.” Najafi criticized Dowlatabadi and the other artists who agreed to speak and work with President Hassan Rouhani's administration. He claimed these artists humiliated themselves and their work as artists through the association.