Daoud Abdel Sayyed: My Film Tackles Ignorance, Exploiting Religion
Egyptian director Daoud Abdel Sayyed pointed out that his film Muwaten Wa Mukhber Wa Harami (Citizen, Detective and a Thief) tackles ignorance and exploiting religion.
As a response to the accusation by a critic who claimed that the film showed the robber as a Muslim intellectual, the director told the London-based daily al Hayat, “the film tackles ignorance and using religion for commercial purposes as the robber character in it uses religion out of ignorance in addition to many bad actions that that takes religion as a shelter. All these acts should be encountered.”
In defending his point of view, Abdel Sayyed cited the article written by Mohammed Barakat in Kalam al Nas Magazine which said, “the film Muawten, Mukhber Wa Harami (Citizen, Detective and Robber) monitors the political, economic and moral corruption. This corruption which is deeply rooted in all life aspects in Egypt makes us feel that we are lagging behind as far as civilization is concerned. It mixes values and leads to the collapse of moral and art standards. All of this takes place amid an intellectual and cultural regress and makes lies in the name of religion.”
The director reiterated that he had the right to discuss the issues of interest to his people and said that no body could ban him from enjoying his rights as an Egyptian citizen and tackling any issue. “I shall not allow any body to deprive me of my right,” he added.
In Muwaten Wa Mukhber Wa Harami novelist Selim Seif Eddin (played by Khaled Abul Naga), whose name means "unbroken sword of religion," the citizen of the title, maintains a physically satisfying relationship with Madiha (played by Rula Mahmoud). It is, however, only when he embarks on a rather more spiritual liaison with Hayat (played by Hind Sabri) -- whose name means life -- that he is able to complete his novel. Hayat, in the meantime, is the mistress of the thief of the title (played by pop singer Shaaban Abdel Rehim), introduced to him by Fathi (played by Salah Abdullah), the detective.
The film opens with the detective, who knows the minutest details of all the characters' lives, and the thief speaking a common language, one the citizen fails to understand. Two decades later, though, when the film ends, communication is perfectly plausible: it is a transformation that lies at the heart of the film.
The central plot revolves around Hayat's theft of a manuscript of one of Selim Seif Eddin's novel. She hands it over to Sherif Al Margoushi, the thief, who has a passion for the more moralistic strain of detective novels. "How come your main character Safiya has an affair with two men yet ends the novel without being paralyzed or going blind?" he asks Seif.
In the ensuing contretemps the thief burns the novel, and the novelist pokes him in the eye. Yet the result of this inflicting of mutual harm is that the writer subsequently achieves popularity with works that take on board the thief's moralism, and the thief receives a far superior artificial eye to replace his own damaged organ.
This conflict between the novelist and the thief occupies most of the film's 135-minutes, and is eventually resolved when the son of the thief and the daughter of novelist-citizen, both products of their fathers' marriage to the other's one time mistress, fall in love and get married, a complicated piece of miscegenation referred to in the song that closes the film -- cats and mice get married, and have children together – Albawaba.com
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)