Grand Hotel is one of the most talked about series this Ramadan. From the casting, the décor and, of course, the whole 50’s feel we get from it, there are so many reasons why we love Grand Hotel! Being a thriller, a drama and a romance, it has captured the attention of so many people.
We took the time to talk to the people behind the scenes; the ones that made Grand Hotel come to life!
First, we talk to the Director behind this great production, Mohamed Shaker, “none of us expected it to become such a big hit, I was actually worried about the genre and how people would accept it”, he tells us. We love the fact that Grand Hotel is an all-star cast, but that must come with its challenges, “I’m a dentist; I have no cinematic background whatsoever! I used to get intimidated by all those big stars, but I just treat them in my own way”, he explains, “to me they are all very different, and the real challenge is to make them different, nothing like any character they have played before”.
“I’m a dentist; I have no cinematic background whatsoever! I used to get intimidated by all those big stars, but I just treat them in my own way”
Many stars from the cast are good friends and even the art director is Mohamed Shaker’s brother. We asked Mohamed what it’s like to work with his friends, “I’m very serious when it comes to work, the good thing about it is that they understand me very well, but I think I might be too harsh on them sometimes” he laughs.
“We had to do a lot of research. We’ve been working on the set since November”
Part of the reason why we love Grand Hotel is because it was set in the 50’s, the magical era. We ask Mohamed what it was like working on it, “while working on eras I try to be as realistic as possible, I don’t want it to look like costumes, but at the same time it’s not a documentary. It’s really fun but challenging since Egypt isn’t equipped for this yet, we have very limited tools”, he explains.
Moving on to décor and the set and the impeccable details that have people talking, we chat with Art Director Ahmed Shaker, “when working on a different era, we start with the big things like the walls and the rooms until we come down the what the matches looked like and what to put inside the drawers”, he continues, “in such a production, the details are just as important as everything else. We had to do a lot of research. We’ve been working on the set since November”.
“all of the décor was made by us. I love it when people think that this is what the hotel looks like”
Watching the series, everything looks so effortless to us, Ahmed explains what the challenges of pulling off such a great representation of the 50’s was, “the biggest challenge is to make it look so effortless. The hotel was from 1900 and then it got renovated, so all of the décor was made by us. I love it when people think that this is what the hotel looks like. I know some people who went to the hotel just to see the décor, I had to explain that what you see in Grand Hotel is nothing like what it really looks like”, he says.
This wasn’t the only challenge, though, “another challenge we faced was the fact that we had to manufacture almost everything ourselves. We could buy props or furniture because everything from the 50’s is worn out and we needed things from the 50’s that looked new. For example, we needed an ink pen, but one that actually worked. Or an elevator from the 50’s that also worked”, Ahmed explains.
“People really love all the clothes! I even had some friends copy some of the designs they saw”
Regardless of how exhausting, the 50s were glamorous and it must have been fun doing that, “I’ve always been a fan of the 50’s interior design, it has its own spirit, something we don’t have any more. I was inspired a lot by Downtown Cairo, but what inspired me most was the script, the character and the story”, he tells.
Looking more closely at the character in the series, we can’t help but notice the makeup! The makeup was done by none other than Makeup Artist Yasmine Mokhtar. Yasmine talk a little about what inspired her, “I watched many old Arabic movies and commercials to get a feel of the 50’s. Then I work together with the stylist to start building the characters”, she explains.
“10 years ago red lips would have been very tacky, but people are accepting it now because it’s closer to them. The trends in the 50’s were cat eye, red lips and nail polish”
The viewers love all the looks, especially since they’re somewhat relevant now, “some of the makeup trends from the 50’s have already come back; like cat eye and red lips. 10 years ago red lips would have been very tacky, but people are accepting it now because it’s closer to them. The trends in the 50’s were cat eye, red lips and nail polish”, she says.
The styling throughout the whole series was every lady and gentleman’s dream! It was all styled and custom made by Yasmine El Kady. Yasmine tells us about that, “80% of the clothes you see were custom made; all the men’s wear and their suit had to be made from scratch. Most of the women’s clothing was custom made too, and the things I bought I also had to play around with and add things like buttons or flowers”, she explains.
The styling was such a big hit that now we wonder if Egyptians are ready to re-visit 50’s trends, “there are many trends from the 50’s that are in stores today. People really love all the clothes! I even had some friends copy some of the designs they saw”, she continues “especially with Nazly’s character. Almost everything she wore could be brought back”. As for the men, it’s also similar, “Mourad’s character was a hit for the men, they really like the vests and the colored suits, even Ahmed Dawood told me he wants to incorporate this style into his personal life after the series is over”, she says.
“Mourad’s character was a hit for the men, they really like the vests and the colored suits, even Ahmed Dawood told me he wants to incorporate this style into his personal life after the series is over”
Shooting midsummer with heavy winter clothes must have been a challenge, Yasmine has considered this, “I think all the actors must hate me”, she laughs, “Aswan was extremely hot and especially the guys had to wear wool pants, heavy coats and jackets it wasn’t easy, but they were all cooperative and did it anyway especially Amr Youssef”, she tells.
From the beginning of Ramadan Grand Hotel was all people talked about! Glad we got a glimpse of such a great production, from styling and makeup to the characters that you love to hate and hate to love!