El Shak: Ramadan Mosalsal Backs-Up Typical Egyptian Melodrama with Substance
Hussien FahmyMai Ezz El Din...
Ahmed Mahmoud Abou Zeid
In Egypt, there is the ongoing conundrum as to why the betrayal of a man is deemed more acceptable than the betrayal of a woman – despicably, the former is generally overlooked, easily forgiven and sometimes even accepted as part and parcel of being an Arab man.
Penned by Ahmed Mahmoud Abou Zeid and directed by Mohamed El Nakly, El Shak (Doubt) addresses this hypocrisy, and attempts to tackle other societal issues in contemporary Egypt.
The story begins with the introduction of Wasila (Ezz El Din), who we initially discover can’t bear children without undergoing a surgery that she cannot afford. Her family, whose characters are played by Raghda, Hussien Fahmy and many other stars, then becomes the focus, with a series of events unfolding and revelaling a string of family secrets. The idea of ‘doubt’ festers between the family members, as questions of who Wasila’s true parents are arise.
The biggest thing about El Shak is the top names attached to the production; in addition to the number of established actors that make up the core of the cast, there are also numerous up-and-coming stars that make the show a veritable carnival of acting talent.
The art direction is particularly notable for its extravagance and uniqueness; however, this approach has also led to accusations of over-indulgence and type of TV gluttony. Regardless of how much was spent – as has been speculated throughout Ramadan – a theatrical over-indulgence like this occasionally works, and it does in El Shak.
The cinematography also plays a big role; filmmakers are often told to treat each shot as if it were the most important of the film – a motto that seems to have been taken to heart by the makers of El Shak. Director, El Nakly, creates scenes that appear both elegant, absorbing and elevate it amongst other Ramadan mosalsals.
In some ways, El Shak encompasses all the classic traits of the typical melodramatic Egyptian soap. The difference here, however, is that for all the heavy drama and flamboyant sets, there is plenty of substance and cliffhanger endings to back it up.