By Zine El Abidine Khairy
Translated by Fadi Ghali
Many in the Egyptian history who mastered the acting profession; they presented all kinds of roles with great craftsmanship, and no one was able to lock their talent in a particular stereotype, whether in tragedy or comedy, evil or good, but instead they smashed all the stereotypes and unleashed their demons freely among the various different roles in professional manners & in an infinite talent shrine of characters that never runs out of new faces & ways to attract the viewer to their performances, one of these actors became one of the great masters, the great actor Hassan Hosni.
Hassan Hosni drew the audience’s attention always in general & he drew mine since I was a kid through his TV series "My Dear Sons, Thank You" (1979), but in a very negative way – as he made me hate him since first scene as he was playing evil games Against the series’ very good hero "Papa Abdo" or the great actor Abdel Moneim Madbouli, where he played the company’s corrupt secretary role - entrusted to prove that this old employee is outdated and that his career must be terminated immediately.
But was the series "My dear sons, thank you" really the beginning for Hassan Hosni? Indeed not!
Before his appearance in this series & even since his childhood, the great actor - born in the citadel (October 15, 1931) to a contractor father and a mother who passed away at the age of six - has suffered for many years in the acting field that he loved, but he wasn’t compensated for this suffering until years later, after long time, through which he passed on many important stations, until his luck, finally, changed after the age of sixty, so that the son of the new Helmiya became "The cinema amulet" or "the blessing" and the most common element in successful films since the nineties of the twentieth century, till now.
The sudden start
During my research in the journey of Uncle Hassan Hosni to prepare this study, I was surprised that his first appearance on the screen was in 1963 after only 7 years from high-school graduation, and shortly after joining the military theater band with the late actor Hassan Abdeen, and even before that, Hassan Hosni had known success as a student in many school theaters’ roles, most notably the role of "Antonio", which won the Excellence Cup in the Khedive School. Hosni got used to get appreciation medals from the Ministry of Education, before drawing the attention of the great artist Hussein Riad to his talent, during his participation in a school competition evaluation committee, and only at that moment, the student Hassan Hosni realized that he won’t become anything else but a professional actor.
Shortly after joining the military theater team in 1963, the great director “Henry Barakat” chose Hassan Hosni as one of the new faces to take its first chance in his film “The open door” starring Fatin Hamama, Saleh Selim, Mahmoud Morsi & Hassan Youssef – based on lotefa El zayat novel. It is true that Hassan Hosni's role was only a few seconds on the screen as one of the captured soldiers in company of two captured commandos - played by film heroes: Saleh Selim and Mahmoud Al-Hudaini - but it remains an important participation for him, as the first on the big screen, that Hosni will be one of its most prominent stars many years later with more than 165 films - making him one of Egypt's most productive actors ever.
Hassan Hosni's films will continue to be very few with limited film roles as in “No Time for Love” (1963) and the other half (1967), then his participation scenes quantity grew bigger to reach small roles like his labor boss role in "Love and Pride" by Hassan Imam, starring Mahmoud Yassin, Najla Fathi and Shahira, then the coffee shop waiter role in the "Karnak" film by Ali Badrakhan with Souad Hosni, Nour El Sherif and Kamal Al-Shennawi.
The new realism son
Hassan Hosni needed Twenty years to get more distinguished roles in cinema - especially with the new realism cinema directors wave, whose star rose in the 80s - starting with the "The Bus Drivers" film (1982) with director Atef El Tayeb & “the heroes” starring Nour El Sherif, Mirvat Amin and Emad Hamdy, where he played the events’ dynamo role of greedy and neglectable "Awni " - the husband of Haj Sultan daughters’ – in charge of the workshop’s management causing its seizure and sale in auction by the tax authority.
The role of "Awni" came in continuation of the evil roles that characterized Hosni in film and television in that period, especially after "my dear sons, thank you" TV series, but most probably it was the first time for Hassan Hosni’s name to be put in on the film poster – and not any film – one of the most important films of Egyptian cinema, so it was natural after his remarkable shining role in this film to be placed on film posters - in a region quite different from the one he was previously in - as one of the important actors, who deserve more important roles. That already happened but in very little amount only - through Four other films with Atif Tayeb: "The Innocent" (1986), "The Basement" (1987), "The Escape (1991), "Blood on the Asphalt" (1992) and in film with Mohammed Khan "An Important Man’s Wife " (1987) - with whom he played one of his most prominent roles at this stage, as “Abdel Azim Elkoronfoly” - the comic hassling former history teacher, the philosopher character that changes the film hero’s concepts - in the film "The City Knight”, (1993). This last role won him the Best Actor prize at the Alexandria Film Festival & best Actor at the National Film Festival in the same year 1993. And so finally, Hassan Hosni’s talent started to get its deserved respect, even if it happened after he got over 60 years of age.
The "The Joy thief" thief
Almost two years after Hassan Hosni shining in "The City Knight", he was on a new date with brilliance in a role I consider the most important ever in his career, even though the film itself is not the most important in his career or his director’s career. This film was "The Joy Thief "Directed by Dawood Abdel-Sayed - another director of the new realism knights who took Hassan Hosni's talent and blew its dust away and explored it until he touched and showed its original essence. The role he played was "Rokba” the old monkey trainer, who despite his age and difficult life circumstances - did not lose his passion for life. The left passion is not for all of it, but for the link that still connects him with it "Romana" (played by Hanan Turk), the young sister of the heroine "Ahlam" (played by Lucy).
Hassan Hosni - with his great talent and experience for more than thirty years before the film - realized that Rokba's role is not like any other role he has performed before, as He opens the film, narrates it in its first scenes, and through his telescope, we will see the film heroes, a close up of its secondary characters and recognize them all, so that we can say that "Rokba" was the window that opened our eyes to the rest of the film characters.
Even though his character was not the film hero, but Hassan Hosni also realized from his first scene - that he plays the key character to understand the rest of the characters. He played on this very brilliantly. He is the friend of Awad the hero and the witness of his love affair with the heroine Ahlam. He - himself - is in fond of her sister that has absolutely nothing in common with him, but even though he craves her with full desire, and therefore came most of his film scenes as self-master scenes, starting from the opening scene – starting in a panorama review of the poor random area where the events revolves at the top of Mokattam hill - as he opens up talking to his monkey "Sugar", Complaining of his worries and showing his desire to get free - creating a very persuasive relationship between him and the monkey, as if they were old friends and convincing us superbly with this relationship as great actor - able to portray the essence of a monkey trainer character integrating his talent with clever acting techniques - using the real character’s physical details from clothes and accessories in addition of his foot limp, which shows us one of the reasons for calling this character this strange name “Rokba" (knee).
And then comes the scene of reviewing the place through the telescope that we talked about before - passing through one of the most beautiful scenes in the film - in which he talks to the rising sun in the sky while shaking his percussion, optimistic about the sunrise feeling that it means that all his dreams will come true: "Romana will love me like I do, and the monkey will learn how to speak. Rise sweetie, Rise”. Even though in this scene and in the opening scene the dialogue may seem naïve at many times, but Hassan Hosni's performance was enough to make you ignore that dialogue in favor of his cheerful facial expressions, as if his shaking percussion was the true engine driving the sun to the heart of the sky.
Then comes the scene of Rokba’s confession to his friend Awad of his love for "Romana". A scene that begins with Awad crying on Rokba’s shoulder because of his inability to marry his sweetheart "Ahlam", as if he was provoking the same crying desire inside "Rokba" who is having a similar situation. When Awad asks him about his crying reason, he replies while still crying in a very childish way “I am in love, Awad”. Awad asks:“who”. Rokba replies:” "Romana Bint Bayoumi" Ahlam’s sister! Awad, then forgets his personal tragedy and his crying transforms into a continuous bout of laughter that provokes Rokba that sparks in speech and leaves weeping & kicking the ground angrily with his stick in a scene that shows extraordinary acting capabilities of Hassan Hosni that - due to his over sincere performance - makes you sympathize with his - strange unequal at all - love story.
Then comes the most important scene of Hassan Hosni in the " Joy Thief ", and may be the crown jewel of the film, a scene in which “Romana” dances on the rhythm of Rokba’s slapping percussion in one of the neighborhood girl’s wedding. The scene begins with Rukba’s eyes sneaking over Romana - who is sitting with the bride's girlfriends on her sister Ahlam’s side - in passionate & love craving looks that soon turn to provocative, when the dancing girl asks Romana to dance in her place. At the same time "Romana" - who had just tied the belt around her waist - started dancing, Rokba's face cheers like a child, and his hands begin to tremble & shake the percussion as if he is announcing to everyone that the he will lead - attracting Romana’s attention. Then he begins to slap on percussion like a master, provoking the burning female inside Romana. And since then, the scene goes in crescendo - forming A triangular struggle between "Rokba" and "Romana" and his "Percussion" - that transforms while rising to an umbilical rope between their souls and bodies, as if they achieve full orgasm without a single touch! When the goal is achieved, “Romana” falls in the belly of her sister, while Rokba swallows and regains his breath and move away from everyone and throw his percussion behind him, as if he does not want anything else from this world, after this metaphorical mating with his sweetheart, but the beloved surprises him where he sits away on the mountain top!
At first, he doesn’t believe his eyes and reaches with his hand to her face and drops it on her body, as if to verify that what he sees is not a dream. His face sheers up gradually under the concentrated lighting, until it feels like his shining face is the source of illumination - not the target! When his hand finishes its mission, Rokba’s second orgasm has been achieved, and so he runs in joy revolving around himself, fulfilling his desire to fly or "to be free" – his liberation desire announced to the monkey in the first scene.
A very beautiful scene, where the real hero was Hassan Hosni's facial expressions that expressed with superior ability - all the feelings described in the previous paragraph. It is the great natural talent and years of experience, along with the sincerity of the scene written and directed by Daoud Abdel-Sayed. All the factors combined to make this scene one of Hassan Hosni’s most beautiful scenes in his long and very rich acting career with numerous different roles - that never reached such a level before. This may have been one of the reasons that “the Joy thief” role brought him five acting awards or even caused the entire film success, as he was the biggest beneficiary.
In that period from the beginning of the 1990s, Hassan Hosni had a participation average of four films per year – as He participated specifically in 36 films in nine years from 1991 to the year 1999 - the year he participated in the film "Abboud on the Borders" with the director Sherif Arafa, as his first film with a group of comedians called "the new comedians" that included: the late Alaa Wali al-Din, Mohammed Hneidi, Ashraf Abdul Baki, Hani Ramzi and later on joined by Mohammed Saad and Ahmed Helmi. So, it is not true that his films participation with these stars was the reason of his late professional spread after the age of sixty. At that time, His professional spread’s real reason was his success with the new realism directors’ group since the eighties and continued in the 90s, especially with Atif Tayeb, Mohammed Khan and Daoud Abdul-Sayed. This "the new comedians" stage has led to an increase in his films’ participation quantity as he nearly joined 50% of the films of that time and reached by the end of the first ten years of the new millennium to about 60 films - which means – that his film participation average increased to about 6 films per year! If We compare it with 4 films average earlier, then the difference won’t be much, but the real difference was in the quality of the roles he played. Of course, most of the roles have become comic to match the films’ quality that became possessive of him, unlike the previous stage where film roles varied widely between all types and perhaps the roles he played in “the new comedians” films have increased in sizes, but in contrast, it got lower in quality - compared to the previous stage roles that have reached their peak in films such as "The City Knight", "Blood on the Asphalt" and "The Joy Thief ".
The most notable remark of “the New Comedians” stage films is that they considered Hassan Hosni’s presence in their films as an amulet of luck or "the blessing" in those films - where they were optimistic of his presence to ensure their films success.
Since then, Hassan Hosni’s film optimistic presence phenomena - continued in most of the comedies screened till 2018 and with the stars - other than “the new comedians” - who emerged later on, from Karim Abdel Aziz, Ahmed Rizk, Sameh Hussein, Hamada Hilal, Ahmed Eid, Ramez Galal, Mai Ezz El Din, Ahmed Makki to Mohammed Imam, who co-starred with Hosni in his films "Captain Egypt" and "Inferno in India".
Flying video King
The great film success achieved by Hassan Hosni, did not prevent him from achieving the same success in TV through dozens of television series, especially in the pre-intensive Cinema spread stage in the nineties, as he has participated in more than 200 known TV series, in addition to those that were not mentioned by Different sources, as they were mostly shot or screened out of Egypt. In over fifty years, his documented works - such as "detective inspector" (1968) with the great director Hassan Imam and even the second part of the latest TV series "the God father" (2018) with young director Peter Mimi – simply mean that Hassan Hosni was flying in the first half between the various Gulf studios - from Ajman to Dubai and from Kuwait to Amman before settling in the last thirty years in Egypt - to fulfill his various works’ commitments between cinema, television, radio and even the theater - that cannot be bypassed as he was one of his loyal sons.
The important roles out of the two hundred TV series he made, are way too many and need to be studied alone, especially when talking about its most important - such as his role of Fathi, the corrupt company secretary in "my dear sons thank you", the Jewish jackal lawyer role, Yussef El Azraa in "Raafat El-Hagan", “Sherif el Kashef” very important role in the "Halawani gate" in its various parts, and “the private Sharabi” in "money and the sons". Not to mention his great brilliance playing Mr. Wafaey’s character in "Arabesque", along with other important roles - such as Sheikh Ibrahim El-Beltagy’s role, “the father of Umm Kulthum” in the series that carried her name, Hishmat Pasha in the "Republic of Zefta" and numerous other important roles.
The theater’s son
The theater witnessed Hasan Hosni’s career beginnings since he was in the military theater band through the Tawfiq al-Hakim theater, the national theater and even the private theater. He has starred in each of these theaters for nearly 60 years, during which he presented about 50 well-known plays, other than undocumented dozens. As After the dissolution of the military theater, Hassan Hosni was transferred to the El-Hakim theater which witnessed his first steps presenting many plays, including the "Orabi" play with the director Nabil al-Alfi, the "boat that goes" play with director Noor Aldemardash and other plays that have achieved Good theater audience’ impressions. In addition to these plays, Hosni presented the "empty words" play with the director Samir Asfoury, which lasted for 6 months - a record by its time standards where his success led to his transition to the national theater and to the modern theater later on, where he achieved another success in His professional career – that enabled him to work in the private sector’s theaters in the early seventies, as he joined the Tahia Karioka band, where he worked for 9 years - during which he performed his most beautiful plays (according to his own description), including "Robabikia" and "The Building Owner.
After his absence in the Gulf, Hassan Hosni returned to the theater in the mid-80s, when he presented "The sidewalk" with Suheir al-Babli and his life’s friend “Hassan Abdeen”. He, then, joined some of the most important plays of the nineties that witnessed - in its end - the rise of “the new comedians” such as “hazemny ya” (1994) with Vivi Abdo, Medhat Saleh, Sherif Mounir & Mohamed Heneidy, “Afrotto” with Henedi (1999), “When dad sleeps” with Alaa Wali El Din (2002) and “Sabahh Sabbahh” with Mohamed Saad (2017).