Art and Experience: Puppeteer Donya Fannizadeh who was mostly known for manipulating Kola-Qermezi, Iran’s most popular puppet character that features a playful boy, died on Wednesday at 49 after about ten years battling sarcoma.
The illness severely affected the muscles of her right hand so that she had to use her left hand in the sixth episode of the Kola-Qermezi TV series broadcast in March 2015.
“She passed away at Tehran’s Day Hospital today morning,” her husband, Abtin Sahami, said in a statement.
Donya was the daughter of actor Parviz Fannizadeh who rejected a proposal from celebrated Iranian director Bahram Beizai for Donya during her childhood to act in one of his works.
Once, in an interview, Donya had said that his father was opposed to her collaboration in cinema as an actress.
“I never understood his reason for the objection, but I respected his view, shifting my focus to puppetry,” Donya had said.
She began her career in a puppet show with the TV puppet series “Umbrella with the Song of Rain” in 1985 and then collaborated in other TV puppet series including, “The Curious Little Raven”, “The Goat with a Bell Foot”, “Hadi and Hoda”, “Aunt Spider” and “Salty Mouse”.
Donya shot to fame with her collaboration in “Kolah-Qermezi and Pesar-Khaleh”, director Iraj Tahmasb’s box-office hit in 1992.
She also worked in two episodes of the Kolah-Qermezi series “Kolah-Qermezi and Sarvenaz” in 2001 and “Kolah-Qermezi and Mama’s Boy” in 2012.
Her collaboration continued with Tahmasb in the TV series “Kolah-Qermezi” in 2009 and five other episodes.
Once, she had said that she would feel really sad if one day she is told to leave her work with Kolah-Qermezi.
In late September, Donya did a phone interview with anchor Reza Rashidpur on TV program “Hala Khorshid”, saying “Kolah-Qermezi is my elder son.”
She is survived by her husband, Abtin Sahami, and their twin sons, Siavash and Arshia.
In statements published in Persian media, colleagues expressed their deep sadness over Donya’s death.
“We never thought we would lose her so soon,” Tahmasb and actor Hamid Jebelli, who lent his voice to Kolah-Qermezi in all projects, said in a joint statement.
“But, since the merciful God is the real possessor of man, we wipe our tears and surrender ourselves to this great grief,” they stated.
The statement also read, “She had a profound love of children, whose smiles made her happy. Perhaps not every child will know her, but her influence on children will remain for years.”
Kolah-Qermezi producer Hamid Modarresi said, “She made children happy for 22 years and left the stage bitterly.”
“Her death is deeply sorrowful,” he added.