Without Mentioning Names, a girl called Zat and a Second Wife

Euromed Audiovisual zapped through (some of) Egypt's new Ramadan series


Without Mentioning Names, a girl called Zat and a Second Wife

With over a dozen new Egyptian soap operas on television this Ramadan, besides some old favourites and a new show by Bassem Youssef, how is a normal viewer supposed to keep up? Here are just some of the new Egyptian dramas hoping this month to provide escapism from current events.

First, after a whole year of anticipation, there's Zat. Co-directed by Khairy Bishara and Kamla Abouzekri (One, Zero), the series is based on the darkly funny novel of the same name by Sonallah Ibrahim. Spanning the years from Egypt's first president Gamal Abdul Nasser to the deposed Hosni Mubarak, the story follows the loveable but not always very witty Zat, as she navigates the effects of historical events on an average Cairene life. In the first few episodes, actress Nelly Karim (Cairo 678) is surprisingly convincing as Zat, despite her above-average beauty, while Bassem Samra (who went to Cannes with Yousry Nasrallah's After the Battle in 2012) is set to play her husband Abdel Meguid.

Next up, written by the prolific Waheed Hamed (Sheherazade, Tell Us a Story, The Yacoubian Building) and directed by newcomer Tamer Mohsen, Without Mentioning Names centres on the inhabitants of a poor neighbourhood and their problems from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s. It doesn't star any huge names, but already its characters -- including a street girl, a singer, a seller of syrup-drenched basboosa, and a few bearded Islamists -- have Egyptian commentators excited.

Then there's the television remake of a 1967 classic set in rural Egypt: The Second Wife, also directed by Khairy Bishara. In the 2103 version, young actress Aytan Amer (now in a few Egyptian cinemas in Chaos, Disorder) steps into cinematic legend Souad Hosni's shoes to play Fatima, a young woman coveted by the village mayor. But Fatima is already married to Abulola, played by Amr Waked (Winter of Discontent).

A new production company has also joined the soap opera scene this year. After an award-winning first feature (Nadine Khan's Chaos, Disorder), Wika has produced its first television series. Heat Wave follows two brothers, a police officer and a revolutionary.

Finally, for the film star fans, Mona Shalaby (After the Battle) stars in flash-back thriller series Friendly Fire, Mona Zaki(Sheherazade, Tell Me a Story) loses her memory and become a belly dancer in Asia, and Hani Salama (Destiny) is an Islamist preacher in The Preacher.

From the older generation, Adel Imam (The Yacoubian Building) plays a crook in The Oracle directed by his own son Rami Imam, while Youssra (also The Yacoubian Building) has startlingly black hair and seems to still be in love with her ex-husband in We Would Be Lying If We Said We Didn't Love.


Alice Hackman


Zat - trailer:

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