'Dhed Majehool' poster - Egypt Today.
CAIRO – 9 June 2018: This Ramadan’s aired soap operas are probably the worst ones over the past few years.
It seems that the industry's producers, directors and writers did not learn much from the significant success of series such as 'Saba' Gar' (7th Neighbour) or 'Tawafan' (The Flood), or 'Abu al A'rusa' (Father of The Bride); they failed to see that the general audience are hungry for pure family drama, and have had enough from series full of violence, terrorism, or action.
Viewers today want to see characters that they can identify with or watch issues that they can relate to as a family, as Ramadan is, essentially, the only time of the year when the family actually gathers together to watch series on a daily basis.
To have 'Dhed Majehool' (Against the Unknown), for example, offered, as a Ramadan viewing, is a far cry from what can be described as a family drama. The plot is quite dark and at time makes for an uncomfortable watch; it is certainly not suitable for young children. However, the dark plot is what attracts one to watch it, even if one is not a fan of Ghada Abdel Razek. The trailer did a good job of illustrating how different and daring this work is.
'Dhed Majehool' is directed by Tarik Refa'at and written by Ayman Salama. The story revolves around Nada, played by Ghada Abdel Razek, the interior designer who was divorced by her first husband (Ahmed Saaed Abdel-Ghani) and father of her eldest daughter Reem (Jumana Fouad).
The plot talks about Nada, who faces work pressures and marries her lawyer Hazem (Firas Saad) and has another daughter Rana. The plot kicks off when one day, while out shopping for a birthday present for her husband’s birthday, she phones her daughter Reem to tell her she is getting the present but as they chat someone rings the bell and all Nada is able to hear is Reem’s screams of help, as she is sexually attacked and killed.
Nada drops everything and runs down the street in a desperate attempt to rescue her daughter, but arrives too late and sees her beloved daughter’s corpse on the laying on the ground. She then embarks on a journey to avenge her daughter's death and punish the attacker.
On paper, the plot is quite plausible but after few episodes we come to discover that the pace of the storyline and the way characters are developed are both weak and slow to the extent that viewers start to lose interest and even fast forward some scenes as you feel they are unnecessary and have just been incorporated to drag out the series to reach that magic 30 episode.
It is also worth noting that it has been claimed that 'Dhed Majehool' has been taken from an American film produced in 1996, entitled 'Eye for an Eye'. In fact, if one searches for the film, one notices that the soap is almost a copied version from the film. This is a very disappointing revelation, as there are many talented Egyptian writers who could have created a far better plot.
The biggest let down came from the characters
Ghada Abdel Razek, for example, was very unconvincing as a grieving mother, or even as a mother on the whole; she failed to make the viewer empathise with her or even shed a few tears for her suffering.
The media made a big fuss about two scenes in the series and labelled them as 'master scenes'. The first is when the daughter is attacked and the second when Nada is washing her daughter's corpse and there is flashback of when Nada used to bathe Reem as a child. Indeed, they are effective scenes but let us not forget that the first scene has been taken completely from the aforementioned film, while the second scene is made memorable by the director rather than the acting.
Abdel Razek fails to convince us that she is a mother seeking justice for her daughter and her collaboration with Dunia played by Hanan Motaw'a is so far fetched and almost a low budget version of the American hit 'Thelma and Louise'. She alsofails to portray the role of wife, sister, friend or mother, with the one exception of being a boss to her workers. This is an indication that Abdel Razek is suited to certain roles more than others; she is at her best in that strong no nonsense woman rather than a domicile role.
As for the other characters, the two big let downs were Rojena and Hanan Motaw'a, as both had proved recently that they are real stars and capable of much more than they had shown in 'Dhed Majehool'.
After her successful roles in both 'Al Ostora' (The Legend) with Mohamed Ramadan and in 'Tawafan' (The Flood), we saw a real change in Rojena and the viewers believed she has finally reached her full potential and has developed into an actual star. But to see her play the role of almost a comic villain, Maya, who is constantly shouting and screaming with or without a reason. The methods used to make her the baddie of the soap are quite juvenile and simplistic in the sense that they made her an all rounded evil woman, even her son is not spared from her antics and screams, it is as though a bad person cannot have another side or even maternal feelings.
Plus, the old style of making her wear heavy make up, revealing clothes and evil laughs are all desperate attempts by the director to close the door on any sympathy for Maya; all these tactics are very 1950. It is puzzling why Motaw'a chose to be part of this series as it was assumed after her highly acclaimed roles in last Ramadan series' of 'Hatha Al Masa'' and 'Halawet El Dunia' that she would have been very fussy and choosy about her roles this year to ensure success. The role of Dunia is not suited for her, not to mention that the character is badly written and does not quite fit into the whole plot.
Moreover, none of the male characters are even given the capacity to shine and each episode is just created to prolong the series without actually offering anything to the audience apart from watching Abdel Razek getting angry at everyone around her and Rojena screaming at every human she glances.
Watch it on youtube and fast-forward; life is too short to waste on a very weak plot, dialogue and acting.