Monday, September 26, 2011

A September of Kuwaiti Entertainment

Unlike some people, I like to stay put during Eid. I especially look forward to the morning of Eid. I wake up early, get dressed and feel funny (in a good way) when I drink my freshly squeezed orange juice during my drive to my grandmother’s house. Speaking of family, I got myself four tickets to Zain’s play that was held at the ice skating rink, “Zain to a Beautiful World” (here's a little clip). I went there with my sister and my three-year-old niece and five-year-old nephew. Since I did not buy the tickets in advance, we were located in the middle section. My sister had her daughter in her lap and I had my nephew in mine in order for them to see through and over people’s heads. Apart from the unnecessary sale of toys with lights that the children played with before and during the play, the set up was well organized. The play, based on Oliver Twist, was very entertaining and from an art directional point of view, very well done and thought out. The actors were great as well; I especially liked the performance of the actor who played the role of the thieves’ leader. There were only three things that I particularly did not like:

1- The lead actress was Shojoon Al Hajri a.k.a. Shooji. She played the role of the boy called Zain. Although she looked like a boy with her baggy shorts, shirt and newsboy cap, it was quite obvious she was a girl. In any case, I brushed it off until my five-year-old nephew who was sitting on my lap turned his head toward me and asked, “Why are they referring to that girl as a boy?” At that point, I really did not know what to tell him. He obviously picked up on the fact – God bless his soul – that Zain/Shooji is a girl, not a boy. I did not want to confuse him so I told him, “Yes you are right, she is a girl and they are calling her as a girl, not a boy.” I still wonder why they did not use a male for the lead role or even referred to Zain as a girl since technically, Zain is both a boy’s and girl’s name.

2- This is a quick summary of the play itself: Zain escapes from an orphanage and joins a gang of children who make their living pickpocketing. After living with them for a bit, Zain is found guilty and brought to trial for stealing a woman’s watch. Zain is acquitted and the woman whom he stole from pities him and takes him home with her. While Zain is enjoying his caring, new mother figure and big bed in the mansion, he helps the authorities to catch all the gang of thieves – including their leader – who he was once a part of. The story ends with the thieves in jail and Zain lives happily ever after with his rich pseudo-mom. Now, I understand that stealing is wrong. I also know that being a snitch is not something commendable. Why couldn’t Zain just shut up and live decently with the woman who took him in? If he recognizes that what he did was wrong i.e. steal, why does he feel compelled to blab about the group he was once a part of? The moral of the play was not as black and white as I would have hoped it would be.

3- The play is by Zain, the telecommunications company, and it is called "Zain to a Beautiful World" based on the main character who is a boy called Zain. During the play, there were images projected on the backdrop and half of them had those little, Arabesque looking flowers that you see in every other Zain advertisement whether it is in a newspaper or on your TV screen. I personally thought that that was a whole lotta Zain to swallow. For some reason, the producers thought they could highlight Zain's presence even more by squeezing in a TV commercial from last year, specifically the one that featured the giant (you can see it here). The bewildering bit is that they did not even bother to drop the Zain logo that appeared at the end of the commercial. Subliminal advertising is sly but smart; forcing in a TV commercial that does not relate to the content of the play is just plain unnecessary and tasteless.

Speaking of boys gone wild, my husband and I went to see Walid Al Awadhi’s Tora Bora. The only thing that I can say is that I loved it. Although it dragged a little bit near the end and a bit of the dialogue was out of place (I do not think any mother no matter how “Kuwaiti” she is would fret about her pills after she was forced out of a van packed with Afghans), I commend the director and writer for this magnificent and brave piece. If you have not seen it (don’t worry, I won’t ruin it for you), the story revolves around Kuwaiti parents (their older son follows them later on in the movie) who travel alone to Afghanistan to bring back their youngest son from the Taliban’s training camp in Tora Bora. I walked in there thinking it was one of those 40-minute Kuwaiti films, but the movie stretched to just over 1.5 hours. The locations where the movie was filmed were breathtaking and the truths behind life in Afghanistan were heart wrenching and humbling. When it comes to sad, romantic even joyful scenes where two people reunite, I cry. Yes, I am a crier. And boy did I cry in Tora Bora! Near the end, when Saad Al-Faraj hugged you know who (who, although we did not see a lot of him, acted really well), I was gone. My tears streamed all the way down to the sides of my neck. Thank God I just had mascara on otherwise I would have been a mess. There were two main messages in the movie: jihad does not mean that someone can violently harm another human being because he/she has the divine right to do so and two, look after your children so as to keep them away from negative, harmful and manipulative people, groups, etc.

In many previous posts, I have mentioned that I love good movies, from old classics to foreign films. Before I watch any movie, I Google it, read about it and the reviews it received before I designate 1.5 – 3 hours of my life to watch the film. I had a very hard time getting the movies that I want, especially the ones that I watched when I was younger like Glenn Ford’s Blackboard Jungle or Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. I was hesitant about ordering them from and right now, I am not ordering anything from them since I lost two packages and the better alternative – having my things shipped to me through my Aramex account – is not worth it since right now, Aramex’s fees cost just as much as the purchased items. In any case, I asked friends and family if they knew any legitimate DVD dealers. I think I saved nine on my phone but alas, none of them had what I wanted. None of them except one: Mushtaq. I came to know of Mushtaq about two years ago. Although our conversations never drifted away from the subject of DVDs and what to watch, I appreciated his honesty, gentle ways and promptness. I even appreciated the fact that he never sold me a movie that he knew was a bad copy. Apart from his good nature, he was the one who gave me each and every single movie that I wanted including one of my favorites, Singing in the Rain, a film that my husband knows but never saw. So it was no surprise that I was deeply saddened when I received a text message from his eldest son who stated that his father died of a heart attack. And that is why I dedicate this post of Kuwaiti entertainment to Mushtaq, since he is the reason why I spent many nights at home watching the greatest and most memorable movies that I will cherish and treasure forever.

Here are a few songs from my favorite movies:
Singin’ in the Rain: Gene Kelly – Singin’ in the Rain
Rosemary’s Baby: Mia Farrow – Lullaby
The Wiz: Mable King – Don’t Nobody Give Me No Bad News
From Diner: Elvis Presley – Don’t Be Cruel

at 8:30 AM 3 comments