Zaki Fateen Abdel-Wahab (1961-2022): Shooting star

Soha Hesham , Tuesday 22 Mar 2022

Last Sunday, actor Zaki Fateen Abdel-Wahab passed away at the age 61 after a battle with cancer that lasted nearly for three years. His funeral took place a few hours later at the Sayeda Nafisa Mosque, and prompted a tide of grief on social media.

Zaki Fateen Abdel-Wahab

His loss brought to mind many other beloved stars. Abdel-Wahab is the son of the legendary singer Laila Murad and the great filmmaker Fateen Abdel-Wahab. The versatile performer Mounir Murad was his maternal uncle. While a Higher Institute of Cinema student, and to ferocious objections from his mother, he was briefly married to the late Soad Hosni, another legendary figure. Zaki graduated in 1983.

He started his career as an assistant director. He worked with Youssef Chahine on Al-Youm Al-Sades (The Sixth Day, 1986), in which he also made his debut appearance on the silver screen, Ali Badrakhan on Ahl Al-Qema (The Elite, 1981), and Samir Seif on Shawarei Min Nar (Streets of Fire, 1984).

As an actor he would also appear in Chahine’s autobiographical Iskendriya Kaman wi Kaman (Alexandria…Again and Again), in 1990, collaborating with filmmaker Youssry Nasrallah on Nasrallah’s debut Sareqat Sayfiya (Summer Thefts, 1988), as Nubi in Mercedes (1993) and Al-Madina (The City, 2000). In 2003, he starred in Asmaa Al-Bakri’s Al-Onf wal Sokhriya (Violence and Sarcasm), which tells the story of a group of young people who rebel against the dictatorial strictures of the Alexandria governor by making and handing out caricatures. A year later he starred in Osama Fawzi’s Baheb Al-Cima (I Love Cinema), playing the lover of the married woman (Laila Elwi). He appeared in Hadi Al-Bagouri’s Wahed Sahih (A Whole One, 2011) and Al-Fagoumi, a biopic of the late oppositional vernacular poet Ahmed Fouad Negm, directed by Essam Al-Shamaa.

Zaki starred in numerous television series like Reish Naam (Ostrich Feathers, 2010), directed by Khairy Beshara, Ahl Cairo (People of Cairo, also 2010), directed by Mohamed Ali. The following year was even more active, with three television series: Samara, directed by Mohamed Al-Nokali; Dawaran Shubra by Khaled Al-Haggar; and, with with actor Youssef Al-Sherif, Al-Mowaten X (Citizen X), directed by Mohamed Bakir and Othman Abu-Laban. In 2014 he starred alongside Khaled Al-in Tofahet Adam (Adam’s Apple), directed by Ali Edris, which traces the life story of an accomplished thief and how he manages to avoid capture. In 2017 he starred in Ramadan TV series La Totfie Al-Shams (Don’t Let the Sun Set), directed by Mohamed Shakir Khodier and featuring the return of the Gold Age icon Mervat Amin. He also starred in Rahim (2018), directed by Mohamed Salama, the following Ramadan, as well as Covid 25 by Ahmed Nader Galal and Bein Al-Sama wal Ard (Between Heaven and Earth), an adaptation of Naguib Mahfouz’s eponymous novel by Mohamed Gamal Al-Adl, last year.

He took part in Ahmed Nader Galal’s Al-Ankabout (The Spider) – to be released. Due to legal issues his only directorial project, Romantica, made in 1996, never saw the light of day.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 24 March, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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