Author and screenwriter of Ekhtiar, Al Fetewa, Lams Aktaf and many more works; Hani Sarhan tells us about how he explores the streets of Egypt looking for a story, and about his upcoming film projects.
By Mariam Elhamy
How does Ekhtiar 2 compare to the first series, without giving away any spoilers?
There is a major difference between the first and the second part. The first part addressed the heroic acts of the armed forces and the story of the martyr Ahmed Mansi and traitor Hesham Ashmawy. The second part sheds a light on the policemen who fought terrorism from 2013 to 2020.
What do you enjoy most about delving into our history for your work?
It is truly enjoyable when I read and discover a lot of historical facts about the time period that I’m working on. I get to learn a lot of new things I had no idea about.
Additionally, it brings me joy to turn these events into a good story with real characters and interconnected events that people will love and feel attached to.
Your scriptwriting stands out for its understanding of the nuances of regional cultures. What do you draw on to achieve this?
I read a lot, ever since I was a kid. I ask a lot of questions, I try to explore new places, I sit with people from different backgrounds, cultures, and social statuses and I listen to their stories so I can write about them and portray them as realistically as possible.
I think it also goes back to where I was raised back in Mansoura.
Who have been the biggest sources of inspiration in your career to date?
That’s a tough one! I think my biggest inspiration is the late Osama Anwar Okasha. I love his work, his characters, and his magnificent journey.
Which genre are you most at home in?
Mainly history and old stories like Al Fetewa, for example. But I like writing about and exploring all genres. I am still trying with different things and discovering what I like and what I’m good at, that is why I want to work in more than one genre.
Which do you find more satisfying, series or films, and why?
I enjoy writing episodes and characters for series because it is longer. But I surely love cinema as well, and I have some film projects coming up soon.
To what extent do you draw inspiration from characters you have encountered in your life?
This happens all the time, even unintentionally. It is totally normal for a writer to get inspired by the people he or she meets and draw things from them. Whether it’s a tiny detail or a phrase, I always pick up things from the people around me.
What human foibles and traits are you most intrigued by?
I like talking about humans in general, with all their flaws and strengths, all their achievements and weaknesses.
What would be a dream project for you?
It changes with time. If you had asked me two years ago I would have said I want to do something in the time period of Al Fetewa. I wish to write in all the genres that I want to try, I wish to turn a novel into a drama and to do something during an older period in time.