Egyptian actress Bushra says her face lit up when she saw the new Vodafone Ramadan advertisement featuring legendary screen and stage star Sherihan after 19 years out of the spotlight.
"She inspired my generation and me personally. I wanted to be her when I was younger," Bushra, 39, told The National.
Sherihan, 56, the singing, acting and dancing sensation best known for her Fawazeer Ramadan (Riddles of Ramadan) in the 1980s, has not been on screen since her 2002 film El Eshq Wa El Dam (Love and Blood).
Her struggles included a serious car accident in 1989 that fractured her spine and took years of recovery, and a salivary gland cancer diagnosis that led to her early retirement.
The four-minute Broadway-musical style advertisement alludes to her ups and downs, and brings fans the familiar Sherihan they love with her long-flowing hair, glittering gowns and multi-faceted talent.
It has been met with a warm reception, an outpouring of support on social media and a feeling of nostalgia among her fans across the Arab world.
It is the second top trending video on Egypt’s YouTube page.
Other Egyptian celebrities are also praising the star’s return and hoping that the advertisement is a preview to her true comeback, a teleplay that was announced in 2017 but is yet to be released.
“I’m happy to see her finally back after all that she’s been through,” Bushra said.
“She’s an icon, not only in acting and fashion. She’s an icon in fighting all of the odds. To me, that’s a real legacy as well.”
Bushra was one of the guests at a reception organised in honour of Sherihan in January 2017 by El Adl Group, the producers behind the play that will feature her in the role of French fashion designer Coco Chanel.
The play's director, Hadi El Bagoury, told The National that it will be a musical about Chanel's life and that after production delays, it may be released on TV as early as Eid.
“I wouldn’t say the commercial is the comeback," El Bagoury said.
"I think people should wait to see the play, because it’s completely different than anything else that she has ever done or anything that has been done."
Sherihan acted in her first movie at age 12 in 1977 alongside legendary actor Farid Shawky.
Although she was in more than 20 films, she made her mark as a TV entertainer.
Her famous Alf Leila wa Leila (One Thousand and One Nights) fawazeer show that aired in 1985 was eagerly awaited by viewers all over Egypt and the Arab world.
Each episode centred around a new riddle, with Sherihan dressed in various costumes, singing songs and dancing.
She also had success on the stage, with her final and most prominent performance in Shara'a Mohammed Ali (Mohammed Ali Street) from 1991 to 1994.
"I saw Shara'a Mohammed Ali 11 times," said costume designer Reem El Adl, who clothed Sherihan for the Coco Chanel role.
“One of the things that made me want to work as a costume designer was Sherihan.”
For her fawazeer, Sherihan dressed in costumes ranging from mermaid to pharaoh to her trademark glittery, sequined gowns.
A silk haute couture gown she wore in 1985 was sold at a Sotheby's auction in December for £21,420 ($29,538).
Now her Vodafone advertisement, which finishes with the slogan “our strength is that nothing can stop us”, is further proof that the allure of Sherihan is still very much alive.
“The appearance of Sherihan on the very first day of Ramadan made all series secondary,” screenwriter Tamer Habib said.
“Usually commercials come between two episodes. Now two episodes come between two Sherihans.”
In a letter to her fans on social media, Sherihan said it was a moment she had been waiting for since September 2002.
She said her feelings were “mixed up” but she was happy. She thanked them for loving her, embracing her and respecting her.
“I missed you,” she wrote.