Generations have always been associated with the world of the radio series “One Thousand and One Nights”, which began broadcasting on Egyptian radio in the 1960s and lasted for 26 years, before TV drama series followed, starting in 1984, and became a popular Ramadan dish that millions awaited every Ramadan in the 1990s.
The artist, Yasser Jalal, returns to the Ramadan 2024 drama, presenting the character “Shahriyar” in the series “A Thousand and One Nights”, written by Anwar Abdel-Moghith, directed by Islam Khairy, with the participation of Yasmine Raees, who presents the character “Shaherazade”, Nour, Sherry Adel, Walid Fawaz and Sami Maghawry.
Filming the series begins this June with scenes that include “graphics” work, and its makers consider it the largest production of the Ramadan drama next year, bearing the signature of “Media Hub” and “Aroma”.
The series was postponed from last Ramadan due to the large production and the need for a long time to prepare for the decoration, clothes and accessories for the time period in which its events take place.
Author Anwar Abdel Moghith says that the series presents a different approach to the stories of “A Thousand and One Nights” than what was previously presented on the small screen, explaining that the expected series bears the theme of “the popular hero”, and is not just one of those famous stories in our Arab heritage.
Abd al-Mughith added, in his interview with Al-Jazeera Net, that he takes into account the target audience in 2024, some of whom have not experienced the previously presented “A Thousand and One Nights” stories on television, through a modern treatment between the duo “Shahriyar” and “Shaherazade”.
“Tell me, Happy King.”
The artist Abd al-Rahim al-Zarqani was the first to present the character “Shahryar” in the sixties in the famous radio series written by the poet Taher Abu Fasha and directed by Muhammad Mahmoud Shaaban. It is the most important, complete and faithful work to the spirit of the well-known heritage book, as its radio episodes have exceeded 800 episodes for nearly a quarter of a century.
The classical music presented by the series became associated in the minds with the world of “One Thousand and One Nights”, and the listener was also associated with the voice of the artist Zouzou Nabil as she told the stories of “Shaherazade” beginning with her usual sentence “Tell me, happy king…”. The radio has put this rich archive of episodes on its YouTube channel, and it still broadcasts its episodes from time to time.
The scenario written by Abu Fasha was characterized by the combination of rhyming in classical and colloquial, as the dialogue takes place between “Shahriyar” and “Shaherazade” in classical, while the stories take place in the Egyptian colloquial, and this radio series influenced the works that were later inspired by the world of “One Thousand and One Nights”.
Tell me, Scheherazade.
Hussein Fahmy was the first to present “Shahriyar” on the small screen in 1984, produced by Egyptian TV and the Sultanate of Oman, with the participation of Naglaa Fathi in the role of “Shaherazade”, and the screenplay was written by the well-known writer Ahmed Bahjat.
Samira Said “Tatar” (Shara) sang the series with her famous song “Ehki Ya Scheherazade”. The song expresses the challenge that the heroine faces, to always occupy Shahryar’s mind with stories until daybreak. And for the first time, audiences saw the characters of One Thousand and One Nights brought to life on screen, after many years of listening to the thrilling tales on the airwaves.
Fawazir Thousand Nights
The great success of the first series encouraged director Fahmy Abdel Hamid to seek the help of its author (Abu Fasha) and mix stories with fawazir with the artist Sherihan, to present together 3 Ramadan seasons of fawazir, which are “The Bride of the Seas” in 1985, then “Proverbs” in 1986, and “Fatima and Karima.” and Halima” in 1988. The episodes began with cartoons of the characters “Shahriyar” and “Shaherazade” with the voice of Al-Zarqani and Zawz Nabil, in simulation of the radio script.
Then Abd al-Hamid and Abu Fasha presented the series “One Thousand and One Nights” starring Hassan Youssef and Laila Alawi, and they dealt with the story of the “frightening Al-Ashkeef” who kidnaps the princess and locks her in an iron cage.
And the series “A Thousand and One Nights” became a work that the audience awaits every year on Egyptian television. In it, Youssef Shaaban presented the character “Shahryar” in 1991, then Samir Ghanem in 1992, and Farouk Al-Fishawy in 1994.
Ali Baba’s story
The most successful series was what Yahya Al-Fakharani embodied in “A Thousand and One Nights: Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves” (1995), presenting the famous story about the character “Ali Baba”, who hears the password used by thieves to open a cave containing enormous treasures. Al-Fakharani excelled in presenting 3 characters, namely “Shahryar”, “Ali Baba” and “Qasim”, his brother.
The script was written by Yousri El-Gendy, directed by Gamal Abdel-Hamid, and Dalal Abdel-Aziz, Ahmed Mazhar and Zouzou Nabil participated in it. He was also distinguished by the famous song “Tatar”, “Ali Ya Ali.
The series presented a new treatment, as Scheherazade decides to surrender to her exhaustion of stories, and suggests to Shahryar that he summon Masrour the Sword to kill her, accusing her of lying and refusing to kill her. Scheherazade says that he knows this story about Ali Baba, but Scheherazade tells it from another point of view, in which humans wrestle with the jinn.
The following year, the star of the nineties drama, Ahmed Abdel Aziz, presented the character “Shahryar” in “A Thousand and One Nights… Fadlallah and Wardana.” In 1998, Majed Al-Masry presented the same character in “A Thousand and One Nights… That of the Uncle,” then Muhammad Riyad in “A Thousand and One Nights… That of Money” (1999), and Mahmoud Qabil, with the participation of Nelly, in “A Thousand and One Nights… The Light of the Place and Badr.” Perfection” in 2000.
The series was almost absent from television drama during the past two decades, as it was presented only a few times, including the series “Mish A Thousand and One Nights” (2010) by artist Ashraf Abdel-Baqi, in a paraphrase of the events of the stories, then Sherif Mounir in 2015.
The most important challenge that the makers of “One Thousand and One Nights” face in the upcoming Ramadan remains how to present an interesting story to the new audience, young people and adolescents, who have not experienced this world on the small screen, and adults who knew a lot about these stories in their youth and youth.
It cannot be imagined that contemporary technology and development in visual effects are sufficient to provide a distinguished work, as the most important thing is a good scenario and the distinguished performance of the heroes. Despite the primitive visual tricks presented by the series “Ali Baba” to Yahya Al-Fakharani a quarter of a century ago, the audience still remembers him as the most prominent of the magical worlds of “One Thousand and One Nights.”
The director, Islam Khairy – the owner of “Timing Difference” and “Azmi and Ashgan” – finds himself in a difficult task in front of great expectations from the audience and a huge production of the series, with the participation of Yasser Jalal, the star who reserved a place for himself as a hero of the Ramadan drama in recent years, during which he played different roles.
Back to heritage
The makers of the series are credited with returning to the most important books of Arab heritage to present a new vision of the worlds of the very rich “Thousand and One Nights”, which the East and West are fond of together, and still inspire writers around the world.
Observers hope that this step will encourage scriptwriters to re-inspired the Arab heritage in their works, rather than quoting or “Egyptizing” foreign works that are not suitable for most of the Arab audience.