Eyad Nassar in Hatha al- Masaa - File photo
CAIRO -7 June 2017: Hatha al-Masaa (This evening) is probably one of the most intriguing drama series on TV this Ramadan with a plot that keeps the viewers guessing with the uncertainty of where it is heading.
It is hard to describe the precise nature of this series with the pre-Ramadan trailers describing it as a story of married couples, who find themselves at a standstill in their relationship. However, it is actually much more than just being about marital or romantic relationships. The drama addresses a contemporary issue; one that the smartphone generation knows only too well, namely, the dangers and impact a small device can have on ones daily life.
As men hack into female’s devices stealing photos and videos and some send spam links that enable them to monitor their mobile phone audio - visually, women are eventually threatened with exposure and hold to ransom.
Hatha al-Masaa hosts a variety of stars including; Eyad Nassar, Arwa Gouda, Ahmed Dawood, Hanan Motaw’a, and Hani Adel among others. The scriptwriter has ensured that each charachter has his/her own story rather than orbit around one star.
Plot as complicated as real life
After his success last Ramadan in Afrah al-Qouba, Eyad Nassar’s fans were expecting another big performance, and so far he has not let them down. Nassar’s character Akram is married to Nayla played by Arwa Gouda, and they have one daughter Tala.They lead a very comfortable life as Akram works with his father in law finance and stock market and frequently visit London where Nayla had lived with her father and sister before getting married. Their life seems to be perfect, but we soon see Akram visiting a therapist to discuss his sexual relationship with his wife.It appears their lack of sexual or intimate activities has left Nayla suspecting him of having an affair, which he strongly denies.
In an attempt to save their marriage, Nayla suggests they take a break from each other and see other people. They agree that if either of them got romantically attached to someone they must tell one another. Akram refuses, but eventually gives in to his wife’s demands.
The drama shifts to other charactersand to two worlds; from Akram’s super rich society to a working class alley where Samir played by Ahmed Dawood lives. Samir trusted chauffer of Akram and his family, is a complex two-sided character.
He is kind and supportive towards people, bringing up a little girl as his own. We later learn she is the daughter of his friend who is in prison after killing his wife. But we also get glimpses of his dark side as he seems to be indirectly responsible for the death of his friend’s wife, he also hacks into Nayla’s phone, listening to her conversation and even watches her for an unexplained reason. Things get even more complicated when his adopted daughter demands a photo of her mother and he gives her a photo of Nayla,again for unknown reason.
There are other notable characters who are also having marital issues, such as the friends of Akram and Nayla who seem to have an open marriage in the sense they have relationships with other people, but stay together for the sake of their son who has Down syndrome. There is also Akram’s sister whose husband is about to embark on an online affair with a very young girl on Facebook, and Akram’s friend, Hazem played by Hani Adel, who despite being married with kids is having an affair with a makeup artist.
Samir’s partners in his mobile shop use their work as a façade to spy and hack women’s phones, who they threaten to expose if they do not abide to their conditions.Samir is oblivious to this.
As the series develops Akram visits Samir’s alley where he meets and get attracted to Abla, played by Hanan Motaw’a, who runs a diner like establishment and it is inevitable that something will happen between them.
The Ramadan series is a slow moving rather complicated drama, but still manages to keep the viewer interested and eager to find out what happens next. The plot focuses on the vulnerability of human relationships and the betrayal that could take place at any time via a laptop or smartphone. The good and the bad are hard to tell apart as they are separated by a very thin line, such as Samir’s character who spies on people to do good, at least in his view he is exposing traitors and adulterous.
The series does seem to suggest that everyone regardless of social class betrays their partner and almost all women have sensitive materials on their devices, or maybe in an Arab society women fear such content as they have much more to lose than their male counterparts, who will not face the same judgement or deadly consequences.