Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 3 August 2020

Mohamed Ramadan's drama on legendary Egyptian actor Ahmed Zaki on hold due to conflict with heirs

The anticipated biographical drama was set to run in Ramadan in 2021

Mohamed Ramadan in a scene from the 2020 Ramadan drama 'El Prince'. Facebook
Mohamed Ramadan in a scene from the 2020 Ramadan drama 'El Prince'. Facebook

One of next year’s most anticipated Arabic dramas could be in jeopardy.

The Emperor, a series tracing the life of celebrated Egyptian actor Ahmed Zaki, was supposed to begin production later this year, ahead of its release next Ramadan.

However, lead actor Mohamed Ramadan, who was set to portray the star, said the show has been put on ice due to a breakdown in discussions with Zaki's heirs.

Never one to waste any time, Ramadan then swiftly announced his next TV project, a 2021 Ramadan series called Mousa.

The news, announced by Ramadan on his Facebook page on Tuesday, July 21, blindsided Bashir El Deek, The Emperor’s scriptwriter.

Speaking to online entertainment site ET Bil Arabi, El Deek said he had finished penning the second episode of the 30-part series when he heard Ramadan had moved on to another project.

“There is no point commenting on things until we see how it full transpires,” he said. “Also, if the parties [Zaki’s heirs and Ramadan] have certain legal aspects that need to be discussed, then it should be discussed with the production company. I don’t have anything to do with this.”

The poster for Mohamed Ramadan's 2021 Ramadan drama Mousa. Facebook.
The poster for Mohamed Ramadan's 2021 Ramadan drama 'Mousa'. Facebook.

When it comes to the series, El Deek said the script will cover Zaki’s life on and off-screen. The series would begin with Zaki’s enrolment at the Cairo Higher Institute for Drama Studies in the early 1970s and go on to cover some of his key films before his death in 2005 from lung cancer at the age of 55.

"I have already done deep research on the life of Ahmed Zaki," El Deek said. "The show will follow his ups and downs in Egypt. We will also touch on certain aspects of his childhood when [the plot] needs it.”

What do we know about 'Mousa'?

As of yet, there is no information regarding the plot of Mousa. However, judging by the pedigree of talent involved, chances are it will be a hit.

For the past three years, Ramadan has starred in some of the most-watched series screened during the holy month, including this year’s thriller El Prince, 2019's Zelzal and 2018's El Diesel.

Producing his next Ramadan TV foray is the blockbuster Egyptian production house Synergy Art Production, which was behind this holy month’s most-viewed series, the military thriller Al Ikhtiyar, and 2019's lavish drama Hekayti.

Directing all 30 episodes of Mousa will be Mohamed Salama, who was behind the critically acclaimed 2018 series Raheel, starring Yasser Galal.

Penning the script is Nasser Abdulrahman, a seasoned talent who wrote previous Ramadan dramas Gabal Al Halal (2017) and the 2009 film Dokkan Shehata, starring Lebanese pop star Haifa Wehbe.

A year of ups and downs for Ramadan

The latest news marks what has been bittersweet month for Ramadan.

On July 16, his image was projected on to screens in New York City’s Times Square to promote his latest viral hip-hop hit, Tik Tok.

It was also the same weekend he was sentenced to a year in prison.

Ramadan was handed a 12-month sentence by an Egyptian court for slander, after posting a video inside the cockpit of a private plane, which caused pilot Ashraf Abou El Yousr to be fired and have his licence revoked.

The video, which went viral, showed Ramadan pretend to operate the plane and was confirmed by The Civil Aviation Authority to be authentic. According to reports, Yousr did not realise a video was being taken and did not give permission for it to be posted online.

Updated: July 22, 2020 07:58 PM

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