You hardly find a house in Egypt where someone does not know the artist, Shadia. Despite her departure three years ago, Egyptians and other Arabs remember her with her songs and films, and then the dramatic circumstances surrounding her retirement from art.
On the occasion of the anniversary of the departure of the famous actress, which falls on Saturday, the well-known Egyptian critic and film historian Ashraf Gharib documented, in a new book, Shadia’s life, which was famous for its most important descriptions, “The Voice of Egypt.”
Amer Sultan reviewed the book, which will be published within hours, and spoke with its author who described Shadia’s march as “representing the history of an entire era in which art and politics intertwined in a society that was open to others, and a climate shaded by freedom of appearance and substance alike.”
According to the book, Fatima Kamal Shaker was born, and this is Shadia’s real name, on the ninth of February 1931 to an Egyptian mother of Turkish origin and an Egyptian father who works as an agricultural engineer at the loss of the king. Her sister Afaf preceded her to the world of art before the younger sister, too, became a professional in singing and acting in 1947.
Throughout her artistic career, Shadia presented a hundred and seventeen films (the most famous of which is “The Devil of the Masses” with Abdel Halim Hafez) and about five hundred musical works (the most famous of which is “My Love, Egypt”) and one play.
The most prominent feature of the book is that it includes everything that Shadia wrote with her pen, or said it herself, throughout her artistic career, arranged chronologically, and in it she tells the most accurate secrets of her life related to art, politics and society, as it is closer to personal notes. Therefore, Gharib chose for his book the title “Shadia Speaks for herself.”
Gharib says to the BBC, “As we let Shadia speak for herself, we have paid attention to this issue with a number of in-depth studies about her artistic performance as a singer and actress, and lists that include all her singing and cinematic heritage, in addition to an extremely rare set of pictures that record about eighty-six years. The great artist ”.
“Half a surprise”
When Shadia retired from art in 1986, people talked about the circumstances surrounding the sudden decision to retire.
Since then, speculation has not stopped about Shadia’s character. However, according to Gharib, much of this talk was “distorted by passion and excess, sometimes out of love for it.”
He adds, “If we are to be precise, we can say that the decision to retire was half a surprise or half expected .. both of them are correct, and both need clarification.”
The book relates that since the nineteenth of November 1984, when her last film “Don’t Ask Me Who I Am” was shown, and until her decision to retire two years later, the artist did not think of any new film project.
The press, always eager for the news of the great star, did not publish any news in this regard, nor did it bother to pursue her theatrical activity after she finished showing her only theatrical experience “Raya and Sakina” with the stars Abdel Moneim Madbouly, Suheir Al-Babli and Ahmed Badir, as well as her almost complete absence from concerts. General lyricism.
Therefore, it seemed to the followers, according to the author, that the big star “lost her enthusiasm to enter into new artistic projects, and that she might be preparing herself for a fateful decision. And it actually happened. Therefore, it was expected by a large proportion. ”
However, “it was not without a degree of surprise.”
According to the book, the final decision to retire came a few weeks after her participation in a traditional ceremony held annually on the occasion of the Prophet’s birthday, known as the “Night of Muhammadiyah”.
And in it, Shadia sang her song “Tasty” Which became famous after his retirement. “At that time, when announcing her retirement, it seemed as if it was a quick divine response to the great artist’s prayer, in the song, for God to take her hand,” Gharib says.
Why did the decision to retire Shadia caused an uproar that lasted for years, as long as it was somewhat expected?
Gharib says that the consequences of the decision are the reason. According to the book, when Shadia decided to retire, the actress did not take this step for religious reasons until that time, a remarkable phenomenon, as there were only two or three, most notably the actress Shams al-Baroudi, who preceded her to a similar decision.
Gharib says, “However, the retirement of an artist with Shadia value, her stature and her great name drew attention to that phenomenon, or, more likely, opened the door to a phenomenon known to artistic life that continued perhaps until the end of the nineties of the last century.”
The list of Mu’tazila artists included: Hana Tharwat, Shams Al-Baroudi, then Madiha Kamel, Noura, Suheir Ramzi, Afaf Shuaib, Suheir Al-Babli, Shahira and Madiha Hamdi, and Sabreen, all the way to Abeer Al-Sharqawi and Mayar Al-Beblawy.
However, Shadia “remains among all of them is the largest and most important name, the owner of the broad artistic experience, the longest-lived and the most influential.”
It was noticed that most of these names retired after several years and returned to acting again, whether by taking off the veil (such as Farida Seif al-Nasr and Mirna al-Muhandis) or by circumventing it with pseudonyms (such as Sabreen and Suheir Ramzi), or by acting in the veil, as is the case for many.
Temptations and pressures
Gharib notes, in his book, that Shadia “remained with the few who stuck to their steadfast position on retirement despite all the temptations and pressures.”
The book draws attention to the fact that it is “the only one among all those who made this decision that did not forbid art or disavow its long history in it. And all that she declared, even to those close to her, is that God has prepared another way for her to give.
Even before her health crisis, which ended with her death, she did not stop doing good and helping the needy, and she has many white hands in several humanitarian projects, most of which have not been announced.
Although some actresses adhered to the decision to retire, their public appearances were normal, whether at public events or through press talks from time to time.
As for Shadia, her appearance was, according to Gharib, “dear and rare, and on clear and articulate occasions that it can be easily spotted, as happened at the height of the January 2011 events,” referring to the January 25 revolution that toppled (the late) Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. .
For all this and others, Shadia “combined love and respect for everyone at different levels and orientations, which explains why the Egyptian and Arab street exploded with love and appreciation following the announcement of Shadia’s departure in a demonstration that has not materialized to other stars of art throughout history.”
The book considers that “this demonstration has not diminished until today despite the passage of three years since her departure.”
In the book, which Gharib likened to being a “personal diary,” it is told about the kidnapping incident that Shadia was subjected to as a child when a woman lured her with a candy bar, kidnapped her and locked her up with animals in an abandoned location. However, she managed to escape and survived miraculously.
And according to her, on more than one occasion, Gharib also narrates the details of the story of the Turkish singer “who changed the course of her life and convinced her father that she should study and become a professional singing.”
Why is the book important?
Due to Shadia’s enormous popularity, many rumors spread about her, especially when she decided to retire. And “Shadia Speaks for herself” is the only book that documents her artistic career “excluding any information that is not based on reliable source or evidence.”
Gharib reveals the circumstances surrounding the banning of some of Shadia’s works throughout her artistic career and being the only singer to have held the title “The Voice of Egypt”.
The book is the latest in a series of books that Gharib devoted his history to criticism in order to be, as he says, “part of the memory and history of art in Egypt, and an attempt, based on strict scientific documentation, to preserve this memory with its stars.”
Among these important books:Jewish Actors in Egypt Which had a wide resonance when it was released almost three years ago. Some Gharib books have also become a reference for artistic history, such as: “Private Records of Leila Mourad”, “Nightingale” Abdel Halim Hafez, and “Cinderella: The Missing Truth” from Suad Hosni, and Muhammad Fawzi: Private Records.
The new book, which is a huge volume, is issued by the “Crescent Heritage” Center of the Egyptian Press Foundation, Dar Al-Hilal.
The center considers it a dedication to the idea that it was founded upon, which is to adopt the form of a press book that takes from the book its research spirit while preserving forms of journalistic dazzle such as interest in the image, the luxury of printing and elegant directing.
The book publishes rare photos of Shadia while filming some rare films and those that have disappeared and can no longer be found. Gharib says that the importance of these images lies in the fact that they capture an important stage in Egyptian cinema and the development of fashion, photography and lighting.
Why was the book released in November?
Gharib was not used to publishing his books on specific occasions. However, the Center for Crescent was keen to publish the book “Shadia Speaks for herself” in the month of November, because it is “the month of endings for the voice of late Egypt.”
November 2017: Shadia passed away after more than four decades of career.
November 1986: She ended her singing career after participating in the Night of Muhammadiyah concert, which was her last artistic appearance in a public concert.
November 1984: Another presentation was presented: “Don’t ask me who I am” with the late star Farouk El-Fishawy, directed by Ashraf Fahmy.