Monday, July 29, 2013
73 is the New...
Because it's Ramadan, one of the biggest priorities in getting ourselves settled in our new little flat was making sure that we had access to Egyptian TV.
Keeping up, you see, with the annual flood of new programs that debut during the holiday month is a major, major priority of the season. Fortunately, one way or another, we've managed to keep Mr. Muscato nearly sated, and every evening we sit down to watch this year's crop of muselsel (soap operas), practical-joke and candid-camera shows (this year's hit films celebrities as they are unwittingly sealed into a fake pharaonic tomb, catching every moment of panic and subsequent recrimination), and, perhaps most divertingly, long-form interview shows that highlight top stars of today and yesteryear (in Egypt's refreshingly non-ageist pantheon, these are often one and the same).
This evening we caught an episode of one such show, for which the guest in the hotseat was the charming lady seen here, one of the Egyptian screen's most durable figures, the great Nadia El Guindy. As this posting's title tips you off, she admits to being a spry 73, which, given the proclivities of the region's film world, probably means she's rising 80. Whatever her actual birthday, she's been working steadily since the late '50s, was for a while married to superstar Emad Hamdy (a suave leading man with a passing resemblance to Cesar Romero), and of late has been a staple of television serials, playing tempestuous ladies d'un certain âge (an âge that generally seems to be about 36).
A joy of these chat shows is that Egyptian stars are fearless in doing whatever it takes to reinforce their own personae and legends. It's as if every one of them went to the Bette Davis School of Talk Show Honesty, and every other person they ever worked with were Joan Crawford. Each hour is a festival of tossed heads, barbed glances, barked laughs, and infinite self-congratulation. The hosts routinely grill them about whom they admire most, hated most, and would never, ever work with again, no matter how much you paid them. The saving grace of most interviewees is that they are just as willing to dole out extravagant praise, albeit generally on costars long gone and safely out of the way, but it still all makes for very good dish.
As for Mme. Nadia here - she looks today easily 15 years younger now than she did 15 years ago, and if she goes on in this direction will doubtless soon be crowding out actresses young enough to be her granddaughter for top parts. You can be quite sure she'll do so gleefully, and then go on the talk-show circuit to crow about it come Ramadan...