Egypt celebrates 80th birthday of iconic actor Adel Emam

Eslam Omar , Monday 18 May 2020

The celebration of his birthday by the public has seen the production of celebratory songs, TV and internet reports, and dozens of art designs and posters

Adel Emam
Adel Emam (File photo: Ahram)

Many local and satellite TV channels across the Arab World, as well as online and print newspapers, celebrated on Sunday the 80th birthday of iconic Egyptian actor Adel Emam.

"I am very happy and I warmly thank my fans and every good thing in our country," Emam told a primetime Egyptian local TV show, presented by Wael El-Ebrashi, on his birthday, praising the value of art in Egyptian culture since the age of the pharaohs and commenting on current issues like terrorism and the coronavirus pandemic.

"There is no social distancing between family members and close friends. Egyptian citizens cannot experience depression. We always laugh off our problems. Laughter and jokes distinguish the identity of Egyptians," he said.

The celebration of his birthday by the public has seen the production of celebratory songs, TV and internet reports, and dozens of art designs and posters.

Emam, one of Egypt’s biggest ever film, TV and theatre stars with almost half-a-century of box office hits and plays under his belt, recently said that "cinema production is facing current problems" in Egypt, and he has therefore been focusing on TV dramas, with most of his series directed by his son Ramy Emam.

The megastar is currently celebrating the success of his latest TV comedy drama series Valentino, which is being screened this Ramadan season. The series is directed by Ramy Emam, written by Ayman Bahgat Qamar, and featuring Dalal Abdel-Aziz.

"Ask the fans about the success of my series. I see it as a good production," he said.

With his debut in Abdel-Monem Madbouly's classical play 'Ana Wa Howa Wa Heya' in 1964 starring the legendary Fouad Al-Mohandes and Shwikar, Adel Emam immediately caught the eyes of directors, critics and audiences, and he quickly became the undisputed number one movie and theatre star in the Arab world for many years.

In dozens of Arab cinema classics, Emam tackled many sensitive issues like religious extremism, capitalism political corruption, and poverty, collaborating with many of Egypt's most successful writers, director and actors.

A brilliant master of comedy, Al-Zaeim (the Big Boss) as his colleagues and fans like to nickname him, has proved exceptional skills in several other genres like melodrama, action, thrillers, romance, horror and even fantasy, making an unforgettable impact on each.

From El-Mudir El-Fanni (1965) to Alzheimer (2010), many Egyptian social and political issues across the past decades can arguably be understood from watching Adel Emam's films alone, not to mention his well-known movie lines that became part of contemporary slang in the Egyptian language and social media memes.

In Hassan & Morcus (2008), co-starring the legendary Omar Sharif, he tackles Muslim-Christian dynamics in Egypt, while in Bobbos (2009) and Morgan Ahmed Morgan (2008), he comically portrays business tycoons' corruptions and their relationship with authorities during the last years of former president Mubarak, who admired the artist.

In El-Sefara Fi El-Omara (2005), he discusses “normalising” relations with Israel, while Wahid Hamed's script of Toyour El-Zalam arguably explains and predicts the future of the Muslim Brotherhood group practices. Many political and social complexes have been portrayed in his other Sherif Arafa 90s classics; Allaeb Ma'a alkebar, Al-Irhab Wal Kabab, El Mansy in addition to Lenin El-Ramly's Bakhit wa Adeela trilogy.

No one has portrayed an extremist youngster the way he did in Al-Irhabi (1994), while no Arab actor can be compared with Emam in the role of the scary demon character Jalal in Al Ens Wa Al Jinn (1985).

The lawyer Hassan Sapanekh in Al-Avokato (1983), the Arab country president in seven-year staged play Alzaeim (1993), Arafa the flunkey in Al-Halfout (1985), the under-cover policeman in Khamsa Bab (1983) and Al-Nemr wa Al-Ontha (1987) are a few of the roles he has embodied. Adel Emam's faces are hard to count.

Fares the street footballer in Mohamed Khan's El-Harrif (1983), Fahmi the drug dealer in Hussein Kamals's Hata La Yatir Al-Dokhan (1984) and Zaki El Dessouki the former aristocrat in Marwan Hamed's The Yacoubian Building (2006) are among his most brilliant roles.

Profiling Adel Emam is worthy of a book. He is certainly an ambassador of Egyptian culture across the Arab world, where he has been honoured and awarded a deserved “happy birthday.”


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