Discussion with La Totfea El Shams Cast BY Salma Khaira, Nada Kheiralla and Nadia El Hamzawi

Presenter Ramez Amir, on the far right, started the conversation around the series in the form of questions to the speakers. Photo by Nada Kheiralla.

The cast of the popular Ramadan television series “La Totfea El Shams” came to The American University in Cairo (AUC), on Monday, Oct. 30, to discuss societal issues that were presented within the series and are prominent in our lives. According to Emily John, PAL’s president, the long-awaited event was held by the Peer Advising Leader (PAL) at AUC’s Bassily Auditorium and the 1100 seats were fully occupied with audience who came to see the popular stars of the show.

The TV series, is inspired by a classic novel written by Egyptian novelist and journalist Ihsan Abdel Quddous. The novel was so popular that it was made into a movie in the sixties and later into a series that was aired on Ramadan 2017. Through the series, questions of social inequality, class, gender and sexual orientation were raised. These questions were also addressed throughout the talk that lasted about five hours.

Tamer Habib, the scriptwriter, explained how he tried his best to capture the true essence of Ihsan Abdel Qeddous’s novel; “I had enough space to include important details that were not there in the movie.” Photo by Nadia El Hamzawi.

This was the second time for the Scriptwriter Tamer Habib to be part of PAL’s annual discussion. Last year another discussion was held for another Ramadan series called “Grand Hotel”. Habib was very happy that he was a part of this discussion again with a new and equally interesting project.

Habib refuses to acknowledge the question of “What was the message behind this project?” He explains that it is not his place to tell the audience what they are supposed to feel or how to think about things they see on TV “I do my part by making my objectives as clear as possible through drama. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the message is the same to everyone. That is your job. You should tell me about the message you received,” Habib said.

Sherine Reda, sitting on the left, condemned content creators for being “scared” to present female examples like her character in the series. Photo by Nadia El Hamzawi.

The discussion then continued with issues of gender with actress Ingy El Mokadam and actress Sherine Reda who when asked about her character Rasha as one of the most talked-about characters in the series, she said, “Of course people will talk about her. She does what she wants. Her lifestyle is controversial to Egyptian society but she doesn’t care and that’s why she spoke to me.”

Ingy El Mokadem’s, sitting in the middle, main focus in the talk was the importance of parental relations and the necessity of awareness around contemporary issues. Photo by Nada Kheiralla.

Discussions around social inequality and class started around Khaled Kamal’s character. A mechanic in a poor neighbourhood, whose sister wanted to marry a boy from a wealthy family. There was a consensus that characters of his social class are often presented in a negative light in Egyptian drama. Amina Khalil added that “We should stop classifying people and even characters into categories of class. It only makes the character less realistic.”

Amina Khalil, on the right, said that she doesn’t like people dwelling on the characters’ background rather than focusing on the changes they go through within the series. Photo by Nada Kheiralla.
The discussion of social inequality revolved around Khaled Kamal’s character “It was important to present the character Adawi in that light because characters of that social class are usually marginalized and presented in a way that conceals a lot of the truths.” Photo by Nadia El Hamzawi.

The question and answer segment of the talk was very engaging. A lot of fans had questions about the ending and the script. One of the attendees, Zeyad Zaki, Business major, asked about the length of the show and how it could’ve been condensed to a faster-paced “mini-series” of only fifteen episodes, to which Habib replied “Ramadan is not the time for it, but I’m currently working on a mini-series for next year.”

Zap Tharwat, Jordanian rapper, closed the event with a performance of five of his most popular songs that also address pressing social issues like harassment, censorship and refusal.

Zap Tharwat ended the event with performance of five songs. Photo by Salma Khaira.

According to PAL's Facebook page, it was founded in 2014 with the single objective of integrating freshmen into college life and strengthening their sense of belonging to the university. They achieve this goal through creating events that are interactive and dynamic leaving space for everyone to play a role in decision-making, management and organization.

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Photos by Nada Kherialla, Salma Khaira and Nadia El-Hamzawi

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