Author: Zohra FARAJOVA Baku
He is originally from Baku: his father Mehdi was from the village of Nardaran, and his maternal grandparents were from the villages of Buzovna and Mashtaga. His father was a clerk, mother - a housewife. Before the establishment of Soviet regime in Azerbaijan, it was a very rich family. But the new government expropriated their property and homes. His father’s houses located in the upper part of the city were taken in return of an apartment on the Lermontov Street. That is where Hasan Seyidbayli was born on December 22, 1920 and spent his childhood.
From childhood to movies
He had elder and younger brothers. All three were doing sports since childhood. The elder brother, Kamil, was playing volleyball, Hasan - acrobatics, and the youngest, Adil, gymnastics. Later, Kamil became a military officer in the rank of colonel. Adil has chosen a profession according to his interest in sports and became a sport journalist working at the state television company. Hasan became a film director and screenwriter.
Since childhood, he was the most mischievous and disobedient among the three brothers. His friends from the neighborhood used to gather together as in "Bizim Cəbiş müəllim" (Our teacher Jabish) and play various games.
Hasan used to recall these sweet memories of his past life with nostalgia. There are dreams that sink into the human soul since childhood. However, being only dreams, they remain in memories. Hasan Seyidbayli’s love for movies has grown along with him. When he was young, movies began to gain popularity in Baku. The world of cinema has fascinated him. He wanted to be in this world.
In 1938, Hasan graduated from high school and entered the Leningrad Institute of Film Engineers. In 1939, he went to Moscow to study at the Faculty of Film Directors of All-Union State Institute of Cinematography.
These were difficult years of the Great Patriotic War. When Moscow was under the threat of Nazi occupation, his institute was evacuated to Alma-Ata, where Seyidbayli has spent his last years as a student.
A dream that came true
After graduation in 1943, he returned to Baku and started to work on Azerbaijanfilm studio. At first, the young director was not allowed to make films, some veteran directors were causing problems on his way.
Hasan Seyidbayli has become involved in artistic creation since his student years. He has published his stories and novels in newspapers and magazines since 1944. Later, he became a certified screenwriter. During his studies at the courses, he married with Susan-khanim introduced to him through his friends. The relationship, which began as a friendship, soon grew into love, and in 1950, they celebrated the wedding. In 1953, their first child Ziya was born. Then they had the daughter Mariam and son Mehdi (1961).
His wife Susan-khanim was a doctor. After medical school and before retiring, she worked at the Central Clinical Hospital.
To be a film director, one had to be a member of the Communist Party. Hasan Seyidbayli also had a membership card. However, he was a descendant of the Seyyids and his ancestors believed in Allah. Apparently, the senior officials of the Soviet government knew about his fact of Hasan’s biography.
There was a time when those who had words "bay", "khan", "sayyid" in their last names were in danger. Once Seyidbayli was summoned to the Central Committee. The then head of Azerbaijan Mirjafar Bagirov asked the young director where he came from. Hasan replied: "I am from Baku." Later, he learned that the Central Committee has been informed of his namesakes. Bagirov ordered to examine the documents. It turned out that Seyidbayli had nothing to do with them. He has been left alone and no longer bothered since because of his name.
His son told us that his father was by nature very gentle and kind, but at the same time a demanding person: "That’s true, mature directors did not allow him to make films but his situation has gradually improved. He was very serious about the rehearsals. Therefore, the actors had to appear in front of the cameras already prepared. When Rasim Balayeva was invited to star in Nasimi, he was still young. Therefore, it was very difficult for him to encompass such a complex image as Nasimi. Father was rehearsing the role with him for quite a long time. It turned out to be a very interesting performance."
While Hasan Seyidbayli was extremely demanding to his actors, at the same time he gave them the freedom to create conditions so that they could show their skills. During the filming of Bizim Cəbiş müəllim, his eldest son Namig performed one of the leading roles: "The filming involved people of all levels and ages. It was difficult to work with children, of course. Every now and then during the filming someone started to look into the camera. We were told not to look into the camera and imagine that there was no camera at all. Since the character of Makedon has been repeatedly rehearsed, the actor was more prepared for his role. My positive side was that I was able to watch the filming since my childhood. The same experience had the son of Nasiba Zeynalova, Jahangir. The film has only 3-4 children in major roles. The rest were not in the spotlight. They were explained how to perform. The filming took multiple takes. During filming, there were moments when father was angry with me. I was not playing as he wanted. In one scene, I had to slap Makedon, the character of Agil Aghajanov. My father told me to strike him harder. I was shy. Shooting was paused several times.
We were charmed by performances of Aliaga Agayev and Nasiba Zeynalova. They were professional actors. They were told something, explained how they should play, and the rest was up to them. Father did not interfere - it was necessary to create conditions for professionals."
Every actor is in his proper place
Another reason that brought success to Hasan Seyidbayli’s films was the casting. The famous performer of Makedon in Bizim Cəbiş müəllimwas a young man far from the world of cinema. He was director’s own discovery. Ziya Seyidbayli remembers: "We were in Pirshagi. We rested there in the summer. Father was preparing to film Bizim Cəbiş müəllim. Then he noticed Agil. He liked his type, appearance. During 3-4 months that we stayed in Pirshagi, he has worked with him. Agil played the role of Makedon as if he was a professional actor."
Other children of Hasan Seyidbayli, Mariam and Mehdi, played the children of Jabish in the film. Prior to that, Mariam played the character of Mehriban as a child in Telefonçu qız ("The telephonist").
Although Seyidbayli filmed his own children, he did not want them to become directors or actors. The eldest son Ziya has successfully performed the character of Namig but did not choose this profession. Mariam initially wanted to become an actress but she passed her desire in the future. From the memories of Ziya Seyidbayli: "We have seen how difficult and nervous this profession was. Besides, if we even dreamed about it, it was unlikely that father would allow us to be actors. He had suffered enough. First, like all directors, he also shot about the Soviet regime. In those days, as in other republics, most of the issues related to Azerbaijan were decided in Moscow. Not every script was approved. The director did not have freedom of action. Like many others, my father also had to shoot two films with directors seconded from Moscow. Talented people love freedom. So was my father. When he was pushed, he would retreat into himself. He could still film a documentary but not a movie. He based many of his films on his own works. He was the screenwriter of Qızmar günəş altında (Under the hot southern sun), Uzaq sahillərdə (On distant shores), Telefonçu qız (The telephonist), Kimi daha çox sevirik (Who we love the most), Möcüzələr adası (Island of miracles), Sən niyə susursan (Why are you silent?), O qızı tapın (Find that girl), Xoşbəxtlik qayğıları (Care of happiness).
Seyidbayli’s son Ziya says that there were many injustices with regard to his father. Sometimes we had to get a scolding from the Central Committee and the secretaries. At that time, the Communist Party leadership would intervene in all issues, the publication of new books or shooting the next film. There was an episode in Möcüzələr adası: a unit breaks down on the oilrig and the employee does not want to fix it. But the high-ranking officer of the Central Committee said that we did not have such people on Oil Rocks, that all of these people must be positive. My father asked him: "Is that your opinion?" - "No, the opinion of the Central Committee", the officer replied.
"Father was forced to cut this scene from the movie. Often, those who gave instructions had to do with art, and the father had to join the debate. These questions, disputes and gossips led to the fact that he suffered a heart attack. The father was 58 years at that time", says Zia Seyidbayli.
It was Hasan Seyidbayli who discovered many talented actors. He did not have rest during the filming: "Hard work, artificial obstacles, and problems of increasing tension. In 49-50 years, he had a diabetes. He spent ten years of his life in the fight against this disease. If not my mother, he would not have lived so much. After all, the work was tense. He loved life. He was a good swimmer. One of his favorite pastimes was hunting. He was an avid hunter. Although there were many problems, the father used to do what he liked. He did everything with a soul. When he had nothing to do, he was always at home. He was attached to his home, to his family.”
"On that day, as usual, I came home from work. In the evening, I went down into the yard. Suddenly, I was called out of the house. I quickly returned back. Father was bad ... He died in my arms. It was on June 25, 1980," remembers Ziya. At that time, Hasan Seyidbayli was elected to the Supreme Council of the Communist Party for the second time. After his death, his deputy card was symbolically handed over the family...