Sherif Salama on new TV drama: ‘A cliffhanger at the end of every episiode’

The actor Sherif Salama says it’s a good time for Egyptian television dramas.
Egyptian actor Sherif Salama, centre, in the new OSN series Al Khatia’a with Reham Abdel Ghafour, right, and Sherry Adel, left.  Courtesy OSN
Egyptian actor Sherif Salama, centre, in the new OSN series Al Khatia’a with Reham Abdel Ghafour, right, and Sherry Adel, left. Courtesy OSN
When Sherif Salama was offered the script for the new OSN series Al Khatia’a, he was hesitant at first.

The Egyptian actor wasn’t enthused about returning to the cut-and-thrust world of Ramadan dramas.

“I didn’t want to get back with a new work in Ramadan,” he says. “So many shows compete for viewers that many lose out. For example, you may get 70 shows on air and only six shows will be really followed.”

In some instances, a drama series will only receive its due credit after the Holy Month, when it’s viewed as a season repeat. Such was the case with Salama’s previous Ramadan TV outing, the lavish Egyptian historical 2012 mini-series Napoleon wal Mahroussa.

But Salama changed his mind about returning to the small screen upon reading the script for the new OSN Yahala HD series.

“Straightaway it pulled me in,” Salama recalls. “The plot line begins simply enough but it develops in such a scary way that I couldn’t help but be hooked.”

Salama plays Yassin, a married man who crosses paths with a former flame. The fallout from the incident has ramifications for Yassin extending throughout the 60 episodes.

The plot’s vagueness is intentional. Like the American hit political drama 24, it begins with a simple premise and evolves into various subplots, with new characters introduced along the way.

Salama, who made his name in the Egyptian dramatic films Cheating Thieves (2008) and Eza’at Hubb (2011), says Al Khatia’a has a strong cinematic element.

“That’s very appealing to me as an actor who primarily works in film,” he says. “It has really well-defined characters and the plot continues to surprise you. There is basically a cliffhanger at the end of each episode, so it really forces you to just follow what happens.”

Salama’s progress to become one of Egypt’s most dependable actors didn’t follow the usual industry route. A self-described restless kid, Salama tried his talent at numerous sports (including handball and water polo) before entering a conservatory to study music theory.

After a few small acting stage parts, Salama dedicated time to honing his craft with the hope of being a film actor, due to the edgier material that films explored, more so than the popular and steady-paying television work.

Ironically, he now joins a growing list of leading screen stars making the move to the small screen.

“Indeed, it is a good time when it comes to television dramas,” he says. “There are more film directors working in TV now, and with their skills are elevating the quality of these shows. There are also some great stories, like Al Khatia’a, that are being written. This always gets me interested, no matter what the genre.”

Al Khatia’a is showing daily on OSN Yahala HD at 1am

sasaeed@thenational.ae

Published: June 30, 2014 04:00 AM

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