Netflix’s first Arabic language original series reanimates 'Jinn' mythology
CAIRO – 5 June 2019: Netflix, the world’s leading internet entertainment service, announced on August last year that its first Arabic Original Series, namely Jinn, began principal photography in Amman, Jordan.
Jinn will bring Middle East folklore into the modern world, exploring contemporary themes of Jinn mythology but with a coming of age supernatural story about friendship, love and adventure.
The producer says Jinn follows a group of Arab teenagers as their friendships and budding romances are tested when they unknowingly invite the supernatural forces of Jinn into their world.
Featuring a cast of up-and-coming talent from the region, Jinn will see Salma Malhas star as Mira, a rebellious teen still devastated after the loss of her mother who learns to love again when she meets Keras, played by Hamzeh Okab, the Jinn who is tasked with guarding vigilante Jinns, according to Netflix.
Erik Barmack, vice president of International Original Series said, “At Netflix, we’re always looking for local stories with an interesting and relatable perspective to bring to screens all over the world.
Executive producers Elan and Rajeev Dassani took us through the story of Jinn that follows a group of teenagers, who unknowingly invite the supernatural forces of Jinn, a mythological creature, into their world while at the ancient city of Petra.
After Netflix approved the idea for the series, the Dassani brothers, both American, joined forces with three brothers from Lebanon—Christian, Lucien, and Mir-Jean Bou Chaaya, the last of whom also serves as a director for the series. The Bou Chaayas previously produced the Lebanese sleeper hit crime film Very Big Shot (2015), distributed on Netflix across the world.
The team then sought to learn about teens face-to-face, going to schools to meet with students to be sure that they were capturing Jordan’s youth culture as authentically as possible. From there, they began casting, scouring the city to find the best untapped acting skills the city had to offer.
“It was amazing the level of talent we were able to discover in Jordan that already existed,” says Dassani.
The show runners explained that one of the reasons behind shooting in Jordan was their attempt to show the world the beauty of Jordan, and present the actual life of Arab teenagers, which in their opinion is very much similar to any teenager's life around the world.
“With Jinn, we aim to create a fantastical show about young people in the Middle East in Arabic that's real, authentic and action-packed. This Netflix show will be full of intrigue, adventure and amazing storytelling from Jordan and for our audiences around the world.”
We had a chance to meet with the young rising stars of the show, a cast of up-and-coming local talents including Salma Malhas, who plays Mira, the main character of the show.
She explained that her character is a rebellious teen still devastated after the loss of her mother, who learns to love again when she meets Keras, played by Hamza Abu Eqab, the Jinn who is tasked with guarding vigilante Jinns.
The show also stars Sultan Alkhail as Yassin, Aysha Shahalthough as Vera, Yaser Al Hadi as Fahed and Ban Halaweh as Layla.
Alkhail told us about a little trick he and some of the cast do to help them stay in characters throughout the shooting of the show; while on set they all call each other with their characters’ names and not their real names. Alkhail explained that the minute he steps in the car to go to work, he asks everyone to call him Yassin, it helps him focus more on portraying his character.
“Keras is not a typical Jinn,” Hamzeh Okab told Egypt Today in an interview. “you will notice that about him as soon as he appears.”
“The way he dresses, the way he acts and the way he talks aren’t what the book says about being a Jinn which made things even more exciting to play him. I wanted to discover who he truly is and portray him in a unique authentic way. I loved every second of doing so.”
Aysha Shahalthough, who plays Vera, had different thoughts about the matter. She explained that as soon as the cameras stop rolling she prefers to go back to being herself, not Vera, distancing herself from the character while not working helps her figuring out herself as an actress not just a character on the show.
The five-episode series is directed by Lebanese director Mir-Jean Bou Chaaya.
The series will bring the Middle East folklore into the modern world, exploring contemporary themes of Jinn mythology but with a coming of age supernatural story about friendship, love and adventure.
The series is expected to be available to Netflix members worldwide in 2019.
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