Dina El Sherbiny has been shining quite bright for several years now. Indeed, Sherbiny’s recent roles in the second season of 7ekayat Banat, and her roles in series like Grand Hotel and Afrah El Koba, have landed her a spot in the front line of Egyptian drama. From her good acting to her sense of style, her charmingly innocent good looks and charisma, we have been finding ourselves obsessing over Dina for quite a while now. Naturally, we were quite excited to hear that she was going to star in her very own series this Ramadan.
The series Malika revolves around Dina (who plays Malika): a young woman who comes from a wealthy and affluent family, and who is known for being quite conservative and obedient to her parents. Aya, Malika’s cousin on the other hand, is known to be Malika’s opposite, a true foil, if you will. Aya is outgoing, adventurous, and has multiple relationships with several men, including her best friend’s husband, and Malika’s brother, Sherif. All this sets the stage for a romantic drama, but the series unpleasantly surprises us when we learn that the stage is being set for a very unoriginal psychological thriller.
The film’s first few episodes are set just a few moments before a terrorists organisation is planning an attack on the District Attorney’s daughter’s wedding, a wedding where Aya and Malika are both bridesmaids. To cut a long story short, the explosion occurs and both girls are left mutilated. Sherif, Malika’s brother enters the emergency room, to find that one of the girls has lived, while another has passed away. Both girls are, of course, wearing the exact same dress. Sherif is able to determine that the alive one has to be his sister Malika, as she is wearing gold necklace with the letter M on it.
Malika, accordingly, travels to Paris where she receives a very successful facial and physical reconstruction surgery. When we say “very successful” we hope that you have picked up on our sarcasm. This is the 21st century, are we still really expecting audiences to believe that skin could be made over so flawlessly? Moreover, do we really expect audiences to fall for that scene whereby a doctor is removing cloths from a burnt victim’s face only to reveal a perfect face, without any traces of the third degree burns? This was okay and credible in the 1980s, but it is obviously not okay in the year 2018.
Additionally, the plot line starts to develop with a major loop hole, one that we just can’t seem to overlook. As Malika returns to her life in Cairo she starts to think that she is in fact Aya not Malika. Her psychologist, however, implies that Malika could just be suffering from PTSD, or some sort Split Personality Disorder. Now, you are probably all thinking can’t we just conduct a DNA test, and figure out if she is Aya or Malika? Well, yes she could, but the series outlines that Malika’s father is adamant on not doing this. Can Malika just go behind her father’s back? Yes, she can, but it takes her 16 episodes to do so, and we are unsure why.
What we also very much hated was the sub-plot. Throughout the series, the cops are looking for the terrorist organisation behind the attack. How does the series resolve the issue of the extreme disconnect between the plot and the sub-plot? One of the people working at the hotel during the night of the attack used to be one of Malika’s friends in college, and the guy is in love with Malika. Yes, that’s it. It really seems that the sub-plot is added as a secondary afterthought; it’s as if the show’s writer felt like Malika’s story wouldn’t be enough to fill 30 episodes, so he added an unrelated sub-plot, which is as undeveloped as the main plot.
Finally, as for the acting, older and seasoned stars like Mostafa Fahmy (Malika’s aunt’s third husband) and Safa’a El Tokhy (Malika’s mother), deliver wonderful performances (you know, as wonderful as the cliché script and plot allow). For Dina El Sherbiny, she is not at all enough of a seasoned actress to carry an entire series in her name. Indeed, especially in the scenes between her and someone as great as Safa’a El Tokhy you could easily spot Dina’s poor acting, singular facial expression for seemingly all emotions, and her lack of experience.
Do not get us wrong, we still love Dina, and we still very much believe in her as an actress and star, but that does not mean that we think she is ready to be the main and only protagonist in a 30 episode series. Slow down, Dina, big roles will come your way, but in due time.