Once the trailer was released, El Qahera Kabul was among the most anticipated series of this Ramadan season for its outstanding cast which includes: Tariq Lotfy, Khaled El Sawy, Fathy Abdel Wahab, Hanan Motawaa’ and Nabil El Halfawy. And up till now, it hasn’t disappointed the audience for a number of reasons.
The beginning of the first episode was the landscape of Afghanistan, the US troops, and the year 2009, all these elements set the tone of the series and how it’ll revolve around the Islamic extremist groups, especially those who resided in Afghanistan, and in this case, it’s clear it’s the Taliban.
The series tackles the trespass of such radical ideologies into the Egyptian society by using the metaphor of ‘Omret El Sayeda’ where four friends grew up together, to emphasize that no matter how close-knitted a community can be, one’s background and the people they looked up to during childhood can affect the way they navigate their life. We can also notice such differences when the four friends reconcile again after a long time. Each one represents a segment in Egyptian society and its role when it comes to terrorism. We have Fathy Abdel Wahab who is a journalist & TV presenter, Ahmed Rezq who is a filmmaker, Khaled El Sawy as a policeman, and Tariq Lotfy as an extremist.
What makes this series gain such praise, besides its cast, of course, is the way it approaches the topic of terrorism. Instead of taking the easy superficial way and exaggerating on showcasing explosions and gory scenes, it adopts the method of philosophical debates which provokes the mind and allows the audience to be part of the conversation to understand properly the danger of terrorism. This can be seen in the debate that took place among the four friends. Unlike how most series and movies tend to portray Islamic extremists using furrowed brows, wide eyes full of spite, hate speech, large beards & galabia, Tariq Lotfy’s character, El Sheikh Ramzy, breaks this stereotype. He talks in a very calming tone with a smile on his face, without any outburst of anger or constant recitation of Quranic phrases to disclose his superiority complex or religious supremacy most extremist stereotypes project onto others. Such portrayal of El Sheikh Ramzy makes the audience realize that extremists can be living among us anywhere.
Although there is an ‘all persons fictitious’ disclaimer, it’s hard not to draw similarities between Fathy Abdel Wahab’s character, Tariq, and Yosri Fouda, who is also a TV host and investigative reporter. These similarities are glasses, their usage of classical Arabic/Fos-ha while hosting and the most prominent detail is the meeting between Tariq and El-Sheikh Ramzy in Afghanistan who told him that he’d write in his diary that one day he’d smoked a cigarette with El Khalifa. This takes us back to Yosri Fouda’s book, In Harm’s Way, where he documented his encounter with one of the masterminds behind the 11/9 attack and a member of Al Qaeda, Khaled Sheikh Mohamed, who described the cigarette Fouda was smoking as the most important one he’d ever smoked.
The degree of commitment this series has proved is quite high. Not only has Tariq Lotfy decided to grow his beard for a year and two months to give a realistic look to his character, or that he prepared for his character by reading a poetry book by Shukri Mostafa, an extremist who lead the Islamist group Jama’at al-Muslimin, also known as Takfir wal-Hijra, to understand how a person can turn from a poet to someone who kills innocent people, but also they had contacted the Egyptian ambassador in Afghanistan to send them costumes to do Ramzy’s character justice when he goes to Afghanistan in the story.
El Qahera Kabul is directed by Hossam Ali, written by Abdel Rahim Kamal, and produced by Synergy (Tamer Morsi).
You can watch it on CBC at 11:30 pm, CBC Drama at 1:30 am, El Hayah at 7:45 pm and El Hayah Muslsalat at 11:00 pm, and Alfa Muslsalat at 8:00 pm, As well as the streaming platform, WATCH IT!
Studying mass communication by day, having tea with Murakami by night. Nour goes back and forth between Cairo and Dubai which makes her curious about the diverse cultures in the world!