By Haajar Boutafi
By Haajar Boutafi
Fez – When the Arab world observes Ramadan each year, it observes it not only with faith and contemplation over the previous year’s deeds, but also with a long list of soap operas to watch during the sacred month.
These soap operas can be Egyptian, Khaliji, Turkish or Syrian, depending on the viewer’s preference. Gathering the most famous Arab actors and actresses, they measure the success and popularity of their work through ratings.
This Ramadan’s soap operas are special as they include the flavor of the revolutions the Arab world has gone through the previous year. One of the most popular soap operas that Arabs are watching this year is “Naji Attallah’s Band”, produced by Rami Imam and starring Adil Imam. Mr. Adil Imam, The leading comedy star in Egyptian movies, is one of only a few actors who have succeeded in remaining atop the Egyptian box office for multiple years.
“Naji Attallah’s Band” is the story of Naji Atallah, a diplomat in the Egyptian Embassy in Tel Aviv who is dismissed from his job. After being prevented from taking his savings from the bank, he decides to retrieve his money his own way: by gathering seven of his friends and robbing the Central Bank of Tel Aviv.
The “Mission Impossible” set-up turns out to be possible as they succeed in escaping the country with the cash. Their trip back to Egypt includes stops in different countries and many unpredictable adventures. In sum, the trip seemed interesting as it included happy and sad moments and opened new horizons for thoughts and decisions that the young band would not have made had they not been exposed to such an experience.
So far, the soap opera has attracted thousands of viewers all over the world, making it the top soap opera of Ramadan 2012. In fact, the producers expected it to be popular as they were gambling on the weight of Adil Imam, the big budget (70 million Egyptian pounds or $11.5 million) and the enigmatic title of the work. However, a few mistakes were made in the production of the show.
1. The scenes that were supposed to portray the Gaza Strip (which were actually shot in the mountains of Lebanon) failed to give us an accurate picture of the zone. Logically, a place which has been besieged for years would not enjoy the luxury of clean streets, green gardens and cedar trees everywhere, not to mention the Lebanese architecture represented in the old stone bungalows.
2. The vehicle plates which were used in the streets of ‘Gaza’ were all Lebanese, while the car plate on Ibrahim’s car (the playboy of the band) was Palestinian.
3. Ibrahim, who was bored as they waited in Gaza for the exact time to execute their plan, was taken to a coffee shop to meet girls. On their way, they met girls in the street wearing tight jeans. These scenes are incompatible with Gazan traditions, where women are veiled and wear conservative clothing in their daily life.
4. Inside the coffee shop, many people were eating and drinking in what was supposed to be the month of Ramadan. Then, the producer switched to a scene with the whole band sitting around a big table, having their Iftar.
“The Band of Naji Attallah” was welcomed on Arab channels and in Arab homes with much hospitability. Adil Imam added a unique flavor with his sense of humor and comic moves, driving us back in memory to his famous films.
The choices for his supporting actors and actresses added more value to the work and gave us a good impression of team work. The idea of the work was also innovative, turning a simple bank robbery into an international issue and “Naji Attallah’s Band” into the greatest production in the history of Arab soap operas.