Bitter Coffee (Iranian video series)

Ghahve-ye Talkh
Format Comedy , history, Satire
Created by Mehran Modiri
Written by Amir Mehdi Jhooleh
Khashayar Alvand
Starring Mehran Modiri
Siamak Ansari
Mohammad Reza Hedayati
Sahar Zakaria
Saeid Pirdoost
Saed Hedayati
Country of origin Iran Iran
No. of episodes 30 Released, 90 Planned
Producer(s) Hamid Aghagolian
Majid Aghagolian
Running time 30-40 minutes

Ghahve-ye Talkh (Persian: قهوه تلخ) (Bitter Coffee) is a historical comedy series directed by Mehran Modiri. Three episodes are released at a time (roughly every week) on three VCD or one DVD, priced in Iran at 25000 rials (currently approximately $2.50). The first set of episodes were released on 23 Shahrivar 1389 (13 September 2010).


History and Controversy

Production of the series began in June 2009. Ghahve-ye Talkh was meant to be produced for television, to be broadcast by the IRIB, but due to various disagreements between IRIB and the series' producers, it didn't air. An alleged reason for disagreement between the producers and IRIB was that the producers wanted all of the advertisement profit from the series, but IRIB refused to agree. Another rumoured reason was the planned content of the series, IRIB officials eventually refused to show Ghahve-ye Talkh, and the series was eventually distributed in VCD format, at various outlets throughout Iran.[1][2]


Inside each pack is a ticket number with which the ticket holder could win one of many prizes (including 6 fully furnished apartments in Tehran, 3 brand new cars, and many cash prizes). This is done to aid sales and to discourage copying (in fact Modiri addresses this very candidly before the beginning of the first episode). There are thousands of shops that distribute the series within Iran, but apparently none that do outside of Iran, where Modiri has a very large fan base amongst expats.


Name Role Title in Persian Regular/Support Description of Role
Siamak Ansari Royal Counselor Mostashar-Ol-Molk Regular He is a historian who travels back in time to become a royal counselor, or Mostashar-Ol-Molk.
Mohammad-Reza Hedayati Shah of Iran Jahangir-shahe Davaloo Regular He is an aged Shah of Iran.
Mehran Modiri Great Bluetooth Bluetooth-e-Kabir Regular He is seemingly a defected Greek prince.
Sahar Zakaria Pretty Princess Lo'bat-Al-Molook Regular She, as the only daughter of Shah, is single, waiting for her prince of dreams to propose.
Saed Hedayati Royal doctor Dava-Ol-Molk Regular Only adept in curing simple diseases such as the common cold, he is more of a parasite in the royal enterprise.
Nader Soleimani Royal Chef Gherghi Regular As the royal chef, he is sometimes involved in conspiracies planned by other top officials.
Falamak Joneidi Royal Chef's Wife Kabootar Regular Not only involved in kitchen issues, she is a news source in the royal enterprise, kind of a wire service of old times.
Elika Abdol-Razzaghi First Lady Fakhr-Ot-Taj Regular As the First Lady, she wants to maintain her authority in the royal enterprise.
Shadi Ahadifar Court doctress Zaeef-Os-Saltaneh Regular As the wife of Royal Doctor, she deals with some women affairs.
Shayan Ahadifar History Writer and prime minister's younger son Gonjeshk Regular He seems to be the only clever man in whole royal enterprise. However, he deliberately distorts facts he documents to be read by later generations, in order to demonstrate a more humane, clever image of Shah and Premier (his father).
Borzoo Arjmand Army General Borzoo Khan-e-Sepah Salar Regular As a relatively naive man, he only pretends to be in love with premier's daughter to succeed him as the premier.
Maryam Bakhshi Prime minister's wife and Shah's sister-in-law Akhtar-Al-Molook Regular It seems that her only duty is to covet her sister (First Lady) and try to convince royal family to accept her son as their son-in-law.
Bijan Banafshekhah Chief of Iran's colonies and premier's elder son Bikhodi-Ol-Molk Deylami Regular He, as stupid and useless as one can be, is in love with Shah's daughter. The so-called colonies he administers (which do not exist at all) include France, Russia, etc.
Javad Ezzati Father of the premier Regular Affected by Schizophrenia, he is a source of laughter in the whole series.
Reza Fieze Norouzi Premier Etemad-Ol-Molk Deylami Regular He is just trying to gather some wealth, maintain his position, and succeed Shah.
Fatemeh Hashemi Royal midwife Hamdam Regular She tries to be faithful to the First Lady, but sometimes betrays her.
Aram Jafari Russian Lady of the Shah Katherine the Boy-Maker Regular Since the Shah has no son to succeed him, he gets married to a gorgeous Russian lady to make a boy. As expected, a tough rivalry occurs between this Russian lady and former First Lady.
Sahar Jafari-Jozani Royal secretary and premier's daughter Naz Khatoon Regular After having her studies finished in France, she returns to Iran to become royal secretary. And she falls in love with Royal Counselor.
Hadi Kazemi Father of the Shah Baba Shah Regular As a painter, his only preoccupation is to rival father of the premier.
Ali Lak-Pooriyan Royal Jester Dambool-Os-Saltaneh Regular He does every common thing that a jester does.
Aref Lorestani Royal Sheriff Balad-Ol-Molk Regular Despite being the sheriff, he engages in various illegal activities.
Hamid Kashani Royal executioner Shokoofeh Regular Despite his name meaning "blossom", he is very cruel.
Reza Nikkhah Royal astrologer and treasurer Nostra Khan Damoos-Ol-Molk Regular His name has something to do with Nostradamus, but he doesn't know how to foresee future as the royal astrologer. Hence, he makes dumb predictions which usually turn to be funny.
Saeid Pirdoost Owner of a Cafe in Bazaar Morshed Regular He is the wise man of the story.
Shaghayegh Rahimi-Rad Malih-Ol-Saltaneh Regular Dambool's wife
Darya Aminiyan Support She is another of the Shah's wives
Amir Farzam Soldier Bahram Support He works for Balad along with Mohsen, in detaining and keeping order in the palace.
Mehdi Nateghi Soldier Mohsen Support He works for Balad along with Bahram, in detaining and keeping order in the palace.
Azadeh Mehdizadeh Support She is another of the Shah's wives
Biuk Mirzaee Thug Support He orchestrates assassination attempts and other crime. He can always be found at the bazaar.
Shima Mo'meni Support She is another of the Shah's wives
Sam Noori Interpreter French-Os-Saltaneh Support He translates for the foreign guests of the palace, also tries in vain to teach Borzoo French in order for him to win Naz Khatoon's heart.


The series begins with history teacher Nima Zande-Karimi (Siamak Ansari) realising that his extensive research on Persian and world history is of little use to financing his day-to-day life. He is about to leave Tehran for good to go back to his hometown when he comes across young university student Roya Atabaki (Sahar Jafari-Jozani) who is researching for her final year dissertation, which is regarding the period 1198-1203, that is said to be a period of turmoil for Iran's ruling elite. Such turmoil that, very few books are available on that period for Roya's research. It is then that Nima receives an anonymous telephone call, which leads him to Saadabad Palace (currently a museum), where he is told to have a coffee and wait. The coffee (which is bitter) is ready and he duly drinks it, his sight becomes hazy, and when he manages to refocus he is in the year 1201 (1822 AD), and the story develops therein.

Introduction Music

As well as being a director and actor Modiri is also a classically trained musician and has performed in sell-out concerts all over Iran. Like his previous two series', he covers a famous Iranian song and invokes a classical twist for the intro. The song "Shabe Mahtab" was chosen for this particular series, as chosen by his son Farhad.

Running Jokes

  • Kieh? KIEH?: The paranoid schizophrenic father of the premier shouts this (meaning "who's there? who's there?) when he thinks he's heard someone behind him.
  • Pedar Sookhte!: When Balad-Ol-Molk threatens someone (usually Mostashar) he starts by using something they've said, makes 4 or 5 deductions from that, and ends up accusing them of something completely unrelated, all the while raising his voice higher and higher, eventually erupting shouting this (which is a common Iranian curse) and violently whipping his head back and forth.
  • Ahhh! Khodaye man!!: The over-emotional Blutooth begins almost every sentence with this (meaning Oh! My God!) before super-praising whoever he is talking to in order for them to like him. He also wears a bracelet of olives and offers an olive to his victims when he's done. This is a send-up of Greece and Greek people.


A main feature of Mehran Modiri's series' in that he parodies Iranian society using characters and storylines within the series, which makes the storyline funny on more than one level. Some of the parodies of this series are listed below.

  • Borzoo/Exaggeration: Throughout the programme Borzoo can be heard telling exaggerated or even fabricated stories about his time in war, when in fact before he became a General he was a waiter in a cafe. Borzoo also has a strong Mashhadi accent and Mashhadis are always accused of exaggeration in Iran.
  • Balad/Reza Shah: Balad's character is meant to mirror that of Reza Shah (of course not formally), who also was an illiterate royal sheriff. The clothes worn by both Borzoo and Balad would have been the uniform worn in the period it is set in.
  • Princess' wedding storyline: When planning the royal wedding, the royal family tell Mostashar not to make a huge ceremony, as the country's people are experiencing a tough time financially. They tell him to invite only 30,000 guests and have only 100 types of food cooked, amongst other things. This could be seen as a reminder of the extravagant wedding between Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and Farah which took place in the face of growing poverty in Iran.


This was a very much anticipated series, as are all of Mehran Modiri's works, partly because it had been 4 years since his last major series work Baghe Mozaffar, discounting the two short series he did for the new years 1387 and 88, and partly because it had been rumoured to be ready for release the previous winter, and then the new year period for 89, before eventually being released at the end of the summer of 1389, and not on television but as a DVD release. As a result, according to the series' website, half a million copies of the first installment were sold on the first day of release alone.[3] Ghahve-ye Talkh is planned to be a 90 episode comedy series.[4] Ghahve-ye Talkh's story, like recent Modiri works, is focused on critiquing aspects Iranian social behaviour.[5]


Episodes 01-03

In the first episode the director shows Nima Zandekarim as a history professor who has a difficult life. When no one values, cares, or pays attention to historical subjects, he decides to leave everything and go to his village and live with his parents. However, destiny changed his path and he met a lady, Roya Atabaki, and fell in love. With extravagant incidents, he traveled to the past (about 1780s).

Episodes 04-06

Nima thought he was in a film or TV series, but he was wrong: he was in the house of the Shah of Persia! He made the Shah angry and Shah wanted to kill him but the first treasurer of Persia asked king to forgive him and he was saved.

Episodes 07-09

After Nima's servants and his lucky fortune telling, he had a good place in the government. The Shah made him to Mostashar-Ol-Molk, but after a short time Shah was very sick and tired and decided to go to Russia for few months. After he came back he got a new wife named Catherine (Sogoli) and after this subject some extravagant things happened.

Episodes 10-12

Episodes 13-15

Episodes 16-18

Episodes 19-21

Episodes 22-24

Episodes 25-27

Episodes 28-30


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External links

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