Thursday,21 February, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1351, (6 - 12 July 2017)
Thursday,21 February, 2019
Issue 1351, (6 - 12 July 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Cheaters and compulsive eaters

Salonaz Sami evaluates the price of extramarital affairs 

For the Highest Price
For the Highest Price

For years now — with Women’s Prison in 2014, Under Control in 2015 and Free Fall in 2016 — the actress, ballerina and supermodel Nelly Karim has become a fixture of Ramadan TV. This year she stars in For the Highest Price, a dramatisation of marital infidelity written by Medhat Al-Adl and directed by Mohamed Al-Adl. Though hardly a new phenomenon in Egyptian drama, this year cheating husband roles are everywhere: Asser Yassin in 30 Days, Fathi Abdel-Wahab in Do Not Make the Sun Set, both Iyad Nassar and Hani Adel in This Evening, Amr Youssef in Satan’s Hope and Ahmed Fahmi in For the Highest Price

The series tells the story of Gamila — Karim’s character — an established ballerina who falls in love with a young doctor from a lower social class, Hisham (Ahmed Fahmi), and marries him against her family’s will. Hisham soon turns Gamila into a housewife and compulsive eater, asking her to give up her career while he builds his own with the help of her family’s money and connections, only to reward her with infidelity. Hisham ends up secretly marrying Gamila’s best friend Laila, a scheming seductress successfully portrayed by Zeina whom Gamila is naive enough to trust with her house and husband. Eventually Gamila finds out, and her world turns upside down as she finds even her family siding with Hisham in order to protect their business interests. Karim gives an emotional performance of a woman in shock and denial stuffing food into her mouth as she breaks down. Gamila decides to start wearing the niqab, not for religious reasons but “as an escape”.

The show has definitely resonated on social media. 

“We’re all going to end up divorced because of you,” director Peter Mimi wrote on Al-Adl’s Facebook wall. “Egypt’s women are all watching your show.” But, while many women sympathised with Gamila, some blamed her for neglecting herself and forgetting her hopes and dreams for her husband. 

“You were once next to him and now you are behind him,” Gamila’s father (Nabil Al-Halafawi) says. 

“I loved the old Gamila, I took a second wife on top of the new Gamila,” Hisham tells her. 

Since Gamila files for a khul’ divorce — with the result that Hisham files for custody of their daughter — the series goes on to focus on marital disputes in court. Indeed it is Gamila’s lawyer Fardous (Mai Kassab) who becomes her friend and helps her to gain focus and control of her life once again. Symbolically throwing her wedding ring in the Nile from her father’s houseboat, Gamila begins to move on. She goes on a diet and joins a gym, but when with Laila’s help Hisham wins custody of their daughter she falls back down again. Haunted by her daughter’s questions about why she stopped dancing, Gamila eventually removes her niqab and performs a beautiful piece of ballet; from then on she becomes a ballet teacher. 

Alongside Gamila’s story is that of her sister-in-law Abla (Sarah Salama), who is cheating on Gamila’s brother Rami (Mohamed Hatem). For five Rami and Abla have been trying in vain for a child. Now Abla’s dream comes true but it is with her lover’s child, not her husband’s that she is pregnant; now she discovers that Rami has always known he is infertile but has kept it from her. She asks Rami for a divorce, but her lover wants her to get rid of the baby.

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