Dariush Mehrjui was born to a middle-class family in Tehran. He showed interest in painting miniatures, music, and playing santoor and piano. He spent a lot of time going to the movies, particularly American films which were un-dubbed and inter-spliced with explanatory title cards that explained the plot throughout the films. At this time Mehrjui started to learn English so as to better enjoy the films. The film that had the strongest impact on him as a child was Vittorio De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves. At the age of 12, Mehrjui built a 35 mm projector, rented two-reel films and began selling tickets to his neighborhood friends.