It is no secret that the romantic comedy genre is making a major comeback on the Hollywood circuit, and the Egyptian cinema industry isn’t far behind on trend! Writer/director Othman Abou Laban says audiences shouldn’t expect a cheesy rom-com, this film has heart and a big twist! Hint: the main takeaway is how love can truly be blind. We caught up with Ahmed Hatem, Ola Roshdy, and Abou Laban to find out more about this Valentine’s Day must-see.
CWM: Congratulations on the upcoming film! What do you think makes Youssef – the character you play – so special?
AH: Well, it starts out with him just being a regular guy like any other. He’s a bit lost in the love department, unable to figure out or make the right choice in finding that special someone. His life then gets turned upside down when he has an accident that results in the loss of his vision, rendering him blind. This naturally shifts and changes all his priorities, and changes his perspective completely.
What drew you to this script?
I enjoy the romance genre, and I enjoy romantic comedies even more. The nature of the film has a lot of lightness; Youssef tries as hard as possible not to handle the issue too dramatically. The whole process of him learning how to cope with his new condition is funny, and how he interacts with others provides a lot of opportunities for comedy.
Obviously this was a huge undertaking for you as an actor, how did you prepare?
I couldn’t study people who have been blind since birth, because that is a totally different experience. I had to bear in mind that this is someone who is used to being able to see, and has to learn from scratch how to feel out his environment and assess obstacles. The idea was how to balance his newborn struggle, and his attempts at living as if nothing is different about his life. The challenge was mainly fighting against my natural inclinations and defenses as a seeing person, not to be startled for example by someone suddenly moving their hand towards my face!
Were there any particularly challenging scenes for you to film?
Absolutely! There is a scene where I’m at an event and the person accompanying me gets distracted greeting people, leaving me to fend for myself in a loud and crowded place. Youssef gets disoriented; bumping into people and eventually falls into the pool and sinks to the bottom. This was an extremely difficult scene to film, due to the aspect of working in the water and all the problems that arise from making it look realistic. I had to do the take over 20 times in a row; tripping, falling, sinking in the water without creating a lot of bubbles, over and over and over … and I had to wear weights to help me sink fast!
What message do you hope audiences will leave the cinema with?
That love involves sacrifice. I think we need more of this realization in life; and we need love and we also need sacrifice. I believe suffering and sacrifice isn’t always a negative thing, it can be a beautiful thing. It can make you feel gratitude for everything you have. Love isn’t just hugs and kisses, a part of it can be suffering, and that can be rewarding.
Since this is our Love Issue, what kind of relationship or marriage advice would you give lovebirds?
Different types of advice for the singles than the marrieds! If you’re just starting a relationship, the best advice I can give is to know yourself first before entering into a serious relationship. If you don’t know yourself, you’ll be making choices for the wrong reason, whether it’s society or superficial appearances or what you see on social media. As for married couples, I would say avoid stubbornness – no matter how hard it is. I think stubbornness can kill any relationship, even between friends. Try to live a balanced life between work, family, friends, and personal development. We don’t have to do everything with our partners.
Early riser or night owl?
Definitely a night person.
Best way to relax?
Slumdog Millionaire. It has it all! Great story, fantastic music, amazing acting.
Coffee or tea?
Anything that swims.