CAIRO – 13 June 2018: One of the least talked about soap operas this Ramadan is"Malika", starring Dina el-Shirbeny, Mustafa Fahmi, Mohamed Shaheen and Nada Bassiouny. All the media's attention has been focused on the male led soaps or the more traditional customary Ramadan stars,who have become a permanent fixture for this month like Yusra, Nelly Kareem and Ghada Abdel Razzek, which does seem unfair to all the other Ramadan soaps and their stars. Just because some soaps had bigger production expenditure or were bought by widely watched TV channels is not a valid reason for the media to pick and choose which soap deserves their coverage.
"Malika" may not be bursting with a galaxy of popular stars, but it does offer a semi entraining aspect that keeps you watching to the end even if you do skip half of the episode. Written by Ahmed TahirYassen and directed by SherifIsmael, "Malika" is the story of two cousins who attend the wedding party of their best friend; and the wedding is targeted by a terrorist attackand so the two stories are linked for the rest of the soap.
As the wedding party is blown up, the two cousins are badly burnt; one dies while the other is disfigured and the only way that they are identifiedis via a necklace that one of them is wearing which is presumed to be Malika (Shirbeny) and so the storyline begins.
The police continue to search for the brain behind the terror attack, while Malika continues to feel torn between two identities as she is not sure if she is Malika or her cousin Aya (AyaSamaha), and we the audience are equally confused and that is due to the effective writing and acting. As there are scenes in which it seems to be quite obvious that the one who died in the bombing is Malika but then we get glimpses where it seems that it is Aya who died.
It is an intriguing plot that constantly keeps the audience guessing, but again, the problem with the majority of this Ramadan's soap operas is the slow pace of the episodes that always focus on a single story line;"Malika"is no exception to the rule. The soap could have been far more enjoyable had it included more than one storyline or simply speeded the events.
As for the casting, the real stars of the soap opera are the following; Shirbeny who has proved she is more than capable to be in the lead role in any work without the support of a male star;she hasthe exceptional ability to suddenly change from the wild and rebellion Aya to the obedient and shy Malika in seconds, demonstrating the real struggle between the two identities within her.
Ramez Amir is another actor that gave an exceptional performance as the poor student turned terrorist, who is in love with Malika,yet ends up being the one who causes all her misery. Amir is a talented actor who featured in last Ramadan's soap "Gharabeb El Soud", where he also played a young person who is brainwashed into joining ISIS and becoming a terrorist.Amir has a promising future ahead but needs to try a non-terrorist role; otherwise he will fall into the trap of being typecast.
It is also worth mentioning thatAmral Saeed and Mohamed Shaheen both played their roles in the most convincing manner.
These stars compensated for all the other actors who have much longer acting careers,yet seeing their roles in "Malika", one cannot help but wonder why did they agree to play such roles that do not add anything to their history?