Does Shaaban Abdel Rehim Promote Daoud Abdel Sayyed’s Film?
Egyptian director Daoud Abdel al Sayyed was accused of promoting his film Muwaten wa Mukhber wa Harami (Citizen, Detective and Thief) by choosing pop singer Shaaban Abdel Rehim to play a staring role in his film.
"In fact, I signed the contract with Shaaban just before that song about hating Israel was released, prior to him becoming a phenomenon, as they say. It was just a question of finding someone affordable who would fit the role, part of the casting. I had no interest in Shaaban's career or his unexpected success. It is certainly not my job to promote him. I refused to use Shaaban's status to promote the film. When we were designing the billboards, the PR people said to me, 'Shaaban's name should be directly underneath the title, and it should be as big.' I refused. The name of Khaled Abul Naga, I said, had to come first; and no name would be as large as the title,” Abdel Sayyed told Al Ahram Weekly.
He added, "Nor do I replace acting with singing at any point in the film. Each song has a purpose, a dramatic function without which the film would not be what it is. The script initially had no songs, no, but once I had Shaaban, I was glad I could also have singing; this is one way the film benefited from Shaaban, because his presence afforded a greater opportunity for entertainment: one could add things like a popular wedding, a song in the hospital ward. Why is it so strange that a thief should also work as a popular singer? If the thief worked as an air steward, that would be a problem. But what's wrong with him being a pimp, for example, so you could bring in the world of prostitutes?"
The director explained, "It wasn't easy working with Shaaban, no. But he wasn't the only actor I was worried about. Shaaban is not an actor. He took an acting course with Mohamed Abdel Hadi before embarking on the film, and his spontaneity was perfect for the role. You could get a professional actor to create a complex, stylized version of that character, but it wouldn't be the same thing. I rather admire Shaaban the singer, I must admit, and not for aesthetic sophistication or anything. I mean, I don't understand why, when he himself declared that he was not a singer, we keep expecting Shaaban Abdel Rehim to be Abdel Halim Hafez and then blaming him for not living up to that standard. Refined ‘tarab’ and musical prowess: that is clearly not what Shaaban is about. His songs are, rather, about the simple dream of turning into an ordinary member of respectable middle class society. In one song, for example, he dreams of having a son he could feed ‘roumi’ cheese: there is strange beauty in this, beauty that makes the subject an object of ridicule, almost, but beauty nonetheless. There is something very honest and natural about these songs. Anyway, as I say, and regardless of my feelings about Shaaban, it was just a question of finding someone who could play the thief convincingly. As for the fact that he changes his name to Sherif Abdel Rehim, that was the song writer's contribution; and I wouldn't have cared in the least if instead he called himself Sherif Abdel Fattah, for example. Of course you must not forget that, in the same way as the film employs Shaaban for its purposes, Shaaban will attempt to use the film to further his own cause; that kind of exchange of interests is only to be expected." – Albawaba.com
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)