After playing many secondary roles Ameer Karara was able to get a leading role. He sees his last performed character Mimi Elrayee on the TV show “Taraf Talet” (Third party) as a turning point in his career and the role that qualified him to play the leading role in this year’s show “Taht el Ard” (Underground) co-starring the Algerian Amal Bashousha, Jordanian Yaser AlMasri in addition to the Turkish actress Songul Oden, introducing for the first time Turkish stars in Egyptian dramas, Dina Elsherbiny, Ingy Elmokadem, and Rasha Mahdy. It’s directed by the Syrian Hatem Ali. interviewed Karara about his leading role, working with Arab artists and the Turkish Songul Oden among other things.
Why did you agree on having the lead role in “Taht el Ard” (Underground) without reading any other scripts for other shows ? That did actually happen. Last year during my performance in “Taraf Talet” I signed a contract with the production company KAN and the producer Dina Karim for performing on a show that will be aired this year with the screenwriter Hesham Helal who also signed with the same company. We started working on the script directly after last Ramadan. We had some sessions together to settle the plot and the final shape of the show.
Why were you willing to accept a project without a fully written script? Actually I don't like working with already done scripts or ready for shooting scripts. Instead I prefer to be a part of process from the beginning of the work as an idea. It's like the difference between having to raise a child when he's already 6 years old and having the child you helped deliver and raise him the way you want, makes the production of the show faster.
Although the contract was signed last year, shooting was delayed. Why was that? I'm not responsible for the shooting starting day but Egypt had many disturbing events lately with a lot of instability. Besides this delay, there were also production issues like selling and marketing the show before starting shooting. I also imagine that it was like this for most of the Ramadan shows this year.
How did you prepare yourself for your first leading role on TV through “Taht el Ard”? Nothing special, because what qualified me for the leading role in the first place is the audience point of view and trust coming from my performance as Mimi Elrayee in “Taraf Talet” (Third party) and that what gave me the psychological push to have a leading role in a show that all of Egypt will be watching.
You did not have any concerns with the show being aired exclusively, especially that it's your first leading role ? Thank God that my show is aired exclusively on a single channel and has above average viewership. Exclusive airing has its positive and negative aspects. So the show is not available in various times but in the same time it makes you more precious as the audience will be the one looking for you. Plus, when channels realize that the show is distinct and special that will make you of a higher importance to them and drive them to look forward of signing future contracts with you.
What does it mean to you that your name ranks among the 5 best actors this Ramadan ? I am deeply honored to be chosen among best 5 actors in Ramadan this year with Ruby and Nelly Karim. The show was also considered among the best 5 shows. For that I called critic Magda KhairAllah and thanked her for what she wrote about me in addition to the praise I got from the critic Tarek Elshenawy that proves that the show succeeded enormously, and that provides me with the needed trust to go on and put more effort into it.
Your current drama show is overtly political while other shows avoided politics... I think that this is one of the special things about our show this year. Specially that we discuss politics differently, away from the removed regimes, Hosni Mubarak and corruption. So we are talking about a non-existent regime and also about the regional Arab politics from Egypt, Jordan to Tunisia and Palestine. That did not stop us from having other parallel plot lines on the show so there is a romantic one as well as a social one.
Does the show tackle the sectarian strife issue as we have seen in a lot of recent productions ? The show does not tackle the issue directly but addresses it in some minor parts of the events, we can see that through in first two episodes where there is the church explosion scene without identifying the church. Also the character of Gamal was showed praying and having a problem with the Christians but we did not focus on that part.
What distinguishes the show “Taht Elard” (Underground) from the other Ramadan shows? The show is considered new on Egyptian Drama in terms of form and shape in addition to its distinct events from other works showed in Ramadan. More importantly we respected the Egyptian audience with a family-friendly show without any obscenity or bold scenes as we see some disasters in this season shows.
How do you see the intensive Arab presence in the show? I see it as totally normal as Egyptian Drama has always been attractive for Arab actors and actresses. Also the presence of Arab actors in the show added a lot to it as it opened the door to a lot of Arabic markets as each audience is looking for his own national artist on the show, so the Egyptians are watching their artists, the Algerians are watching the show for Amal Bashousha, the Jordanians for Yaser AlMasri and also the Syrians for Hatem Ali.
How do you evaluate the participation of the Turkish actress Songul Oden and was she cast to exploit her wide reputation in the Arab world ? Songol's participation was for the need of the drama and her character is included in the script. It was necessary that a Turkish or a Greek actress perform the role until we agreed on having a Turkish actress. I attribute this to the producer Dina Karim because she was the one able to sign the contract with a famous Turkish actress. Her fame was not the main reason but surely a factor taken in consideration.