- Life Style
A refreshing summer comedy, the movie begins with a little background on Bahig, (Ahmed Meky), the main character of the film, and his life with his grandfather – already there is a reference to a well-known and much joked about phenomenon… the family that moves back from the Gulf with a fan. Although there were no blankets mentioned (another typical purchase), the point gets across and the audience is introduced to the good natured Egyptian self deprecating humor that has become popular since the Melody Tunes ads (‘All English All Za Time’).
The movie is divided almost equally between slapstick humor and seriously witty dialogue with true Egyptian references like the paper cone of sequins for 5 piasters and the Egyptian super slang used by today’s youth. Mared, the genie, defies the historical Arab genie image of the lamp and the fog and the fireworks while Bahig takes apart the stereo type of the geeky middle class man who appears to be awkward and unattractive by showing qualities through a number of characters.
Bahig’s love interest is Laila – (Donia Samir Ghanem) – who appears aloof and closed off, uninterested in the advances made by Bahig’s colleagues and uninterested in Bahig simply because he is unable to communicate with her. Ghanem was initially very interested in the script. In an interview with Al Masry Al Youm, she spoke animatedly about working with everyone on the movie, her attachment to Laila and her many faceted roles. “I really wanted Laila to be different people in each of the lives – originally, the script focused more on the changing character of Bahig but when I suggested Laila change drastically as well, the director was enthusiastic about my ideas and we sat together to plan out a more exciting Laila," Ghanem explains.
With a ‘Teer Enta’ and a snap of his fingers, Mared sends Bahig on a number of different lives for his middle school graduation project. The first is the ‘Marina guy’ – Misho – (Marina is a resort city on the north coast of Egypt known for a young hip crowd) a personal trainer and model who has bleach blond hair, drops a lot of English words and is ‘open minded’ to a fault, letting his girlfriend kiss boys, get harassed and eventually handing her over to a bunch of thugs to protect himself from getting maimed, ruining his chances at the Mr. Egypt contest. Ghanem is his equally cool counterpart, although she is not willing to totally ‘go with the flow’. Despite what seems to be an exaggeration of this society set, Ghanem argues, “I know people like this, who are this extreme, but I wanted to show that girls like this still have their principles. I find the character close to the real deal." Bahig leaves this life knowing that Laila wants a man who is a ‘real man’.
And the stories continue, varying in exaggerations of different personality traits and littered with references to life in Egypt today. In Bahig’s second life as the qalb mayyet (stone cold heart) Saidi (upper Egyptian), he locks his wife (the Saidi version of Laila) up without satellite channels to keep her from obsessing over Mohanad – the Turkish soap opera star that garnered such a following in the Middle East that Saudi Arabia banned his pictures and shows. She responds by ordering Mohanad pillows from the Internet or ‘il net il neteet’ as Bahig’s character calls it.
Bahig also spends time as the overly sensitive Egyptian movie star, Soma – where Ghanem makes her debut as the Lebanese Laila – a character that was very well received by audiences due to her very realistic Lebanese accent and look. Ghanem also blew moviegoers away with her makeup sales woman character in life number 5, where Bahig plays the typical ‘Khaligi’ man (male citizen from one of the Gulf countries) who throws money around, has no taste and is constantly trying to be Egyptian by quoting Egyptian movies.
Ghanem’s pronunciation (Lolita Lempicka) and hand gestures (applying lotion to your eyes with your fourth finger) in this life are both very true to the typical makeup and perfume salesgirl in Egypt. “I am obsessed with buying perfumes and have an uncontrollable habit of watching people. I think I was able to internalize the accent and the non verbal communication of the typical perfume and makeup saleswoman because of that," explains Ghanem. On her character seeking advice from radio station Nogoom FM’s love doctor, Osama Mounir, Ghanem adds, “These young girls really trust Osama Mounir, you should listen to the show! They bare their whole lives to him." But Ghanem insists she means no harm in her impression of this sales girl – “These are very kind and trusting people," she explains – which is perhaps the motivation behind her typical Egyptian female verbal beating of Bahig’s Khaligi character when it becomes apparent that he views her as a purchasable commodity.
After a love and hash stoned disco prince Bahig in life no. 6, Mared has one last chance to pull everything together and create the perfect, immortal hero, the Indian film hero. “I never expected to get the chance to act out an Indian musical film role," laughs Ghanem who had the most fun with this character. Bahig and Laila dance and sing while she is kidnapped and he is stabbed and presumed dead. But no! In typical Indian movie style, he reappears to rescue his love, despite being impaled with an enormous sword.
Bahig may be out of lives but through the efforts of the loveable genie, he has learned the movie’s message, ‘be true to yourself’. (A refreshing message after a list of summer movies with messages like “Respect God’s will, or else" and “We’re tough have drug gangs too.")
Teer Enta is very funny and tackles Egyptian idiosyncrasies in a particularly graceful and humorous way without being blatantly offensive. A cinema must-see, Teer Enta serves as a good snapshot of 2009’s typical Egyptian youth with their humor, slang, symbols and lives.