The Ramadan TV soap train is bearing down on us. Kamal Sultan lists the options
Ramadan is a boom time for soap opera addicts, and this year is no exception. With 40 shows hitting the small screen simultaneously, Ramadan television dramas are rolling on unchecked by the grinding wheels of the economic slowdown and the rumoured shortage of cash. Major actors are flocking to the small screen as cinematic operations are curtailed, with some appearing in more than one drama. Viewers can expect to see Nour El-Sherif, Hussein Fahmi, Ghada Abdel-Razeq among other stars on one or more regional satellite channels. Here is just a taste of what will be showing during the holy month.
Qatel Bela Agr (Killer with No Contract): This is a drama about two friends: one a district attorney, the other a famous doctor. The doctor is treating the daughter of the district attorney without charging a fee but in return he asks the lawyer to commit a murder. Written by Mustafa Moharram and directed by Rabab Hussein, the show features Hussein Fahmi in the lead role with co-stars Farouk El-Fishawi, Iman, Liqaa Sweidan and Khalil Mursi.
Hussein Fahmi also appears in Wekalat Attiya (Attiya's Market), written by Khayri Shalabi, directed by Raafat El-Meihi and starring Maya Nasri, Ahmed Badeir, Ghada Ibrahim, Ahmed Azmi and Intisar. It is the story of the residents of a fictional, old-style market.
Matkhafush (Don't be Scared): Written by Ahmed Abdel-Rahman, directed by Youssef Sharafeddin and starring Nour El-Sherif, Nehal Anbar, Hana Shiha, Hadi El-Gayyar, May Nour El-Sherif and Ashraf Abdel-Ghafour, this centres on a political chat show whose host, Nour El-Sherif, receives death threats after exposing Zionist plots. Nour El-Sharif also appears in another drama, Al-Rahaya (Grinding Stone), written by Abdel-Rahim Kamal and directed by Hosni Saleh which co-stars Sawsan Badr, Reem El-Baroudi, Ashraf Moselhi and Madiha Hamdi. The central character is Mohamed Abu Diab, the wealthy owner of a mining business in southern Egypt.
Boshra Sara (Good News): Here is a drama that addresses the problems modern women encounter at home and in the workplace. Written by Wafaa El-Tokhi and directed by Omar El-Sheikh, it stars Mirvat Amin together with Sameh El-Soreiti, Fadia Abdel-Ghani, Aida Riyad, Ola Rami and Ragaa El-Geddawi. Mirvat Amin plays an Egyptian teacher who has just come back from a long stay in the Gulf to find that her life is in danger.
Ibn El-Arandali (Son of Arandali): This drama written by Walid Youssef and directed by the Syrian filmmaker Rasha Shorbatji is about a corrupt lawyer whose main quest in life is to keep criminals out of prison. Yehia El-Fakharani stars with Dalal Abdel-Aziz, Maali Zayed and Wafaa Amer.
Al-Bawaba Al-Thaniya (The Second Gate): Nabila Ebeid, who has not acted in a Ramadan drama since Al-Ammah Nour (Aunt Nour) flopped in 2003, comes back in this show written by Kawthar Mustafa and Mohamed Abdel-Khaleq and directed by Ali Abdel-Khaleq. Starring in the same show are Hisham Abdel-Hamid, Ahmed Maher, Ahmed Khalil, Shaaban Hussein, and several Lebanese actors including Carmen Labas, Fadi Ibrahim, and Majdi Mashmushi. Ebeid plays the role of Ayla El-Hawari, a woman in search for her son who was abducted by the Israelis during a trip to Sinai.
Adham El-Sharqawi : The story of a folk hero who fought British occupation in the countryside and was known for his mastery of disguise, this drama was written for television by Mohamed El-Gheiti and directed by Syrian filmmaker Basel El-Khatib starring Mohamed Ragab, Dolly Shahine, Nesrine Imam, Ahmed Maher, Gamal Ismail and Mayar El-Gheiti.
Khas Geddan (Privileged Information): Yossra has jumped back into the Ramadan mêlée to play a psychiatrist protecting the privacy of her patients. The show is written by Tamer Habib and directed by Ghada Selim. Mahmoud Qabil, Ezzat Abu Ouf, Ragaa El-Geddawi, Dorra El-Tunisia and Yossra El-Lawzi star.
Al-Ashrar (The Villains): A corrupt journalist backstabs his way to becoming an editor-in-chief and a street dancer claws her way up to owning a nightclub. The story, set in the 1960s and 70s, is written by Amr Abdel-Samie with Ahmed Saqr directing and Magdi Kamil, Leqaa El-Khamisi, Dina, and Hassan Hosni in the leading roles.
Ala Watar Mashdud (On a Tight String): Written by Emad Nafei and directed by Khaled Bahgat, this drama concerns a banker, Amira Fakhreddin, whose husband is injured in an accident and whose son is abducted. Athar El-Hakim co-stars with Kamal Abu Rayya, Maali Zayed, Ahmed Khalil and Sameh El-Soreiti.
Al-Omda Hanem (Her Excellency the Mayor): After playing a serious role last year in Al-Fanar (The Lighthouse), Sabrin is back with a comic role in this light-hearted show written by Magdi El-Gallad and directed by Ahmed Yehia. Other roles are played by Ahmed Bedeir, Ahmed Rateb, Donia, Youssef Dawoud, Alaa Mursi and Hayatem. Sabrin plays a mayor's wife who is trying to bring enlightenment to the women of her village, but discovers that her husband is married to another behind her back. She obtains a divorce and runs against him at election to become the new mayor.
Ganna wa Nar (Heaven and Hell): Adel Hussein wrote the television adaptation for a story by Ahmed Othman about a doctor who discovers a cheap remedy for hepatitis C but runs into trouble. Taysir Youssef Shaaban stars with Ibrahim Yosri, Ahmed Maher, Nabil Noureddin, Menna Fadali, Menna Galal and Sameh El-Soreiti.
Wanis wa Ahfadoh (Wanis and His Grandchildren): Mohamed Sobhi resuscitates his classic show by replacing his children with his grandchildren. By talking to the younger generation, Sobhi manages to explain some of the changes that have taken place in Egyptian society over the past few years. The show is directed by Mahdi Youssef, who wrote the script with Mohamed Sobhi. Other parts are played by Wafaa Sadeq, Gamil Rateb, Hanaa El-Shorbagui and Youssef Dawoud.
Hala wal Mestakhabbi (Hala and the Dark Side): Layla Elwi comes back to television with a show written by Hazem El-Hadidi and directed by Mariam Ezzat Abu Ouf. Elwi plays a married woman with five children who finds herself living on the edge against all expectations. In the same show are Bassem Samrah, Ahmed Rateb, Afaf Rashad, Ragaa Hussein and Seif Abdel-Rahman. The serial runs for 15 episodes and will be followed by a sequel called Magnun Layla (Crazy for Layla) written by Mohamed Refaat and directed by Mohamed Ali, with Layla Elwi starring along with Khaled Abul-Naga.
Ashan Malish Gheirek (Because You're My Only One): A romantic drama written by Atef El-Bakri and directed by Syrian filmmaker Radwan Shahin, this describes the life of Mounira, the wife of a dignitary in a remote part of the countryside who has to take care of her family and the surrounding land after her husband dies. Elham Shahine stars with Riyad El-Kholi, Ahmed Azmi, Reham Abdel-Ghafour, Amir Shahine and Ahmed Safwat.
Afrah Eblis (Joys of the Devil): Written by Mohamed Safaa Amer and directed by Sami Mohamed Ali, this is the story of a man who controls his Upper Egyptian village and manipulates its residents through his close connections with powerful figures. Syrian actor Gamal Suleiman stars with Abla Kamel, Ayten Amer, and Yasser Farag.
Hanem Bent Basha (Lady Daughter of Pasha): Written by Yasser Abdel-Rahman and directed by Said Hamed, this is the tale of Hanem, a woman who sells tea on the streets of Zanqet El-Sittat in Alexandria to support her family. Hanan Tork co-stars with Amr Youssef, Ragaa El-Geddawi, Alaa Mursi, Sawsan Badr, Abdel-Rahman Abu Zahra, Mohamed Ramadan, Seham Galal, Amira Hani, and Sami Meghawri.
Layali (Nights): Zeina plays the role of Layali, a poor girl who becomes a star and hooks up with a wealthy man. Alongside her are Salah Abdallah, Sawsan Badr, Hassan Mustafa, Ahmed Safwat and Youssef El-Sherif. The show is written by Ayman Salama and directed by Ahmed Shafiq.
Al-Batniya : This drama looks at drug dealers in Al-Batniya in Cairo with Ghada Abdel-Razeq taking the leading role as Warda, made famous by Nadia El-Guindi in the film version. The show is written by Mustafa Moharram and directed by Mohamed El-Naqli. Salah El-Saadani co-stars with Luci, Ahmed Falawkas, Reem El-Baroudi, Hayatem, and Mimi Gamal.
Harb Al-Gawasis (War of Spies): Menna Shalabi plays a Mossad double agent in this thriller which also stars Hisham Selim, Sherif Salama and Rania Youssef. The script is by Bashir El-Deek and its direction by Nader Galal.
Tager El-Saadah (Merchant of Happiness): Khaled Saleh is a blind sheikh who starts out interpreting dreams for neighbours before becoming a television preacher. Adapted for television by Atef Beshai from a story by Mohsen Zayed, it stars Dalia Mustafa with Hala Fakher and Dina Abul-Seoud.
Hadf Al-Bahr (Beached): Written by Ahmed Abdel-Fattah and directed by Gamal Abdel-Hamid, this tells of twin sisters, one an aspiring singer and the other a doctor with high moral standards. Somaya El-Khashab plays both roles alongside co-stars Tareq Lotfi, Mohamed El-Shaqanqiri, Gamal Ismail and Showikar.
Abu Dehka Genan (Crazy Laughs): Ashraf Abdel-Baqi plays Ismail Yassin, the icon of Egyptian comedy, in this biographical drama written by Ahmed El-Ibyari and directed by Mohamed Abdel-Azizi. Also appearing in the show are Salah Abdallah, Ahmed Bedeir, Rania Farid Shawqi and Ahmed Falawkas.
Ana Qalbi Dalili (My Heart is My Guide): Another biographical drama about Layla Murad, the great singer of the 1930s and 50s. Murad is played by Syrian actress Safaa Sultan, with Ezzat Abu Ouf and Ahmed Falawkas co-starring.
Al-Adham : The young actor Ahmed Ezz comes back to television with a show about Egyptian men trying to immigrate illegally to other countries. Iman El-Asi stars with Serine Abdel-Nour, Mohamed Lotfi and Salah Abdallah. The show is written by Mahmoud El-Bezawi and directed by Mohamed El-Naggar.
A dozen sit-coms are also ready for Ramadan viewers. These include Harramt Ya Baba (Never Again, Father) by Hassan Hosni, Amr Ramzi, Mayar El-Gheiti. The show is written by Michel Nabil and directed by Ahmed Saleh. Another sitcom is Setta Midan Al-Tahrir (Six Tahrir Square) directed by Kamla Abu Zikri and featuring Hussein El-Imam with Intisar and Caroline Khalil as co-stars.
Meanwhile Hala Fakher, Razan Maghrabi and Hassan Abdel-Fatah will star in Beit Al-Eila (Family House) directed by Mohsen Ahmed, and Sameh Hussein, Hala Fakher and Lotfi Labib are appearing in Abbudah Marka Mosaggala (Abbudah Trademark). Also coming to the small screen near you in Ramadan are new seasons of the sit-coms Ragel we Sett Sittat (A Man and Six Women), Tamer wa Shawqia (Tamer and Shawqia), Al-Iyada (The Clinic) and Café Chino.