‘Afarit Al Asphalt’…Shaaban Abdel Rehim’s Early Days
For years, Shaaban Abdel Rehim was underground. Then in 1994, he made a cameo appearance with star Mahmoud Hemeida in Osama Fawzi's Afarit Al-Asphalt (Asphalt Devils), one of the two or three films considered by most critics as the best of the decade, according to Al Ahram Weekly.
Fawzi recalls that Shaaban's songs were such a taboo then that even the singer himself couldn't produce samples of his music, since the market had been wiped clean by the censors.
The film, which is directed by Oussama Fawzi with a script by Mostafa Zekry, also features Mahmoud Hemeida, Gamil Rateb, Salwa Khattab, Hassam Hosny and Aida Abdel Aziz.
Review of ‘Afarit Al Asphalt’
Sayed (Mahmoud Hemeida) is a taxi driver, a "king of the asphalt." Sayed is a born womanizer. A bachelor, he has no scruples about seducing his lady passengers. To do so, he exercises his natural authority in public, even if he has to produce a knife to win an argument.
Sayed lives with his father, mother, sister and bedridden invalid grandfather in the same apartment; but he uses another house belonging to the family as his bachelor flat. Sayed is having an affair with his neighbor, Batta, the barber's wife. So as not to awaken the suspicions of the deceived husband, Sayed pays his best friend, Ringo, another cabbie, to go have his beard trimmed just when he and Batta are having their lovers' tryst.
Insherah, Sayed's sister, would like to marry Ringo, who's not indifferent to her, but Sayed won't hear of it - he says that Ringo, like himself, is not responsible enough. As the story unfolds, the acts of adultery become more widespread: while trying to intercede on behalf of his daughter Insherah, Sayed's father, Abdallah, tries to seduce Ringo's mother, Zahia. And Sayed's mother, Tafida, seems too keen on the storytelling talents of the barber, Mohamed. Even Sayed's grandfather, Ali, takes advantage of the situation when Insherah, feeling abandoned, starts to perform a striptease for a bricklayer working under the window.
According to the director, all the characters in Kings of the Asphalt manage to "steal" love, but without ever being able to experience it fully. They are all obsessed by the quest for a moment of intimacy, even if it means taking advantage of the situation during a wedding party, or even a wake. The drama of these people lies in the fact that they belong to a nation dominated by taboos they violate at will, but without any sense of revolt. And their complicity in this transgression creates no bonds of solidarity among them – Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)