One of the most successful blockbusters of the past season is Hatooly Ragel. A light comedy talking about a society where women wear the pants. They harass men on the streets, they fool around and prefer to marry an untouched man and they come home to find a good meal cooked by their husbands. We sat down with Karim Fahmy writer/actor to talk emasculation, gender swap and manhood.
The gender swap was hilarious, how did you come up with all those female lead scenes?
I tracked down my wife’s behavior and every female else around me. It’s a collection of piled up experiences. My wife told me you can’t see me a few hrs before the wedding so I wrote this down and used it in the film but I made the male character say it. Of course it took a lot of time to hand over the script but it was done.
Hatooly Ragel is your first movie as an actor, weren’t you scared to do a guy who is in her shoes?
I was scared of course. The 3 male actors in the movie worked really hard to digest and do these characters without being cheesy or repulsive. It’s a very thin line between acting like a real man who is in her shoes and being emasculated. It was a new definition of manhood. We were real men but our women were wearing the pants.
But lots of successful actors have done the gender swap thing and turned out really a hit like Mohamed Saad as Atata and Alaa Waly El Din as Gawaher.
Well yes but I’m not a comedian. Mohamed Henady, Samir Ghanem, Adel Emam are all great comedians. Men doing a female character was funny back then but now it’s different, Its old school comedy.
Do you think Egyptian men are insecure when it comes to the real definition of manhood?
I think we have both kinds. Some men feel that they need to raise their voices to become real men and other men don’t have this kind of attitude but when their women want to wear the pants in a relationship by trying so hard to prove that she is much more powerful than him and start some sort of competition, they become insecure and try to prove to them that I’m still the man in this relationship. In my opinion, it’s the woman’s fault and these kinds of women destroy the relationship.
What are the female roles you think men can never do?
To nurse a baby (laughs). Look, I’m totally convinced that women can do all male related jobs and vice versa but they can’t do them like men and men can’t do female jobs like women. If I decided to work at a nursery, I will never do it well like a woman. I’m not created to handle a kid screaming I won’t survive but women will handle with care and tenderness. Women can work as judges but at a point they might put their decisions based on emotions. That’s how God created us it’s not a social thing or something I’m convinced with. You can go to war but you won’t compete with men physically. We need to complete each other that’s the whole point.
Do you have a problem being lead by female directors?
I worked with Mariam Abou Ouf when I wrote my first movie Bibo w Beshir starred by Asser Yassin and Menna Shalaby. Mariam was really nice and she could lead a whole crew professionally. This Ramadan I had a project with Kamla Abu Zekry but unfortunately it didn’t work out.
The movie was great and was a box office hit but it didn’t receive any awards, does that concern you?
We have a huge problem in the industry when it comes to awards. Of course it concerns me because we have this new genre that is called “festival kind films”. Really, what does that even mean? With all do respect, I think some people only make movies under this term to participate in festivals because they can’t compete. They go to film festivals and the likes but their films aren’t the box office type. Being commercial isn’t an insult. Titanic is the most commercial movie ever created and it received 12 Oscars! I feel that I won’t receive an award anytime soon just because of these odd reasons. It’s not a matter of a good or a bad movie anymore.
Generation Y is obsessed with social media. You can see guys posing semi naked in a gym bathroom. Do you think social media has an effect on emasculating young men?
There is huge gap between our generation and the younger one. You can see a guy sitting on a table and his woman sitting on the lap of another guy and the guy is totally fine because ‘its ok he is her best friend’! Seriously? I have a problem with this new social syndrome. It’s not us you know. I feel we are slowly reaching the society of Hatooly Ragel. I can take a photo, but it can’t be a lifestyle. It’s a disaster if I’m working out only for taking the bathroom Selfie and post on instagram.
What about the female obsession in the Middle East of which women take Selfies of their daily outfit? Does that attract men?
I don’t get attracted to shoes and bags. I can get attracted to a woman wearing a plain white tshirt and a pair of jeans. When the woman is simple she is attractive in a way.
Have you ever dumped someone for not taking good care of themselves?
When I was 16 I was in a relationship that lasted a few minutes relationship (laughs). I found a few hairs running down her chin so I told her I’ll go get you some sweets but I never showed up again. I was young and shallow of course.
What do women and men want?
Women need to be treated as they are created to be. We need to protect them and make them feel secure. On the other hand, men aren’t lead with their brain (excuse my French).