Syrian star Gamal Suleiman has great and important works that achieved fame and great success, and through which he won many important awards and honours. He is considered one of the most important stars of TV drama in Syria, and achieved great success in many Egyptian TV series. This year, he starred in the Egyptian TV series “Umla Nadira”, another Upper Egyptian drama, which was the reason for his popularity in Egypt.
Could you tell us about your role in the “Umla Nadira” series?
The character I played, Abdel-Jabbar, was a harsh authoritarian personality. It revolves around control. But at the same time, he is a very contradictory personality, as he is a believer and wishes to obtain the pleasure of his Lord, but he is torn between his attempt to please his Lord and achieve his interest. He can be a tender father in some situations, and someone who tends to be slow and patient sometimes. He is very keen on his reputation as a man of his word and tries to find compromise solutions, but if he fails and feels that his authority is threatened, then he is extremely cruel and impulsive.
Are you not afraid of criticism because of the repetition of the Upper Egyptian character in your TV series?
I presented the character of the Upper Egyptian man more than once because I love this type of work. It is true that working in the Upper Egypt environment and mastering the dialect is exhausting, but I became very familiar with the dialect and the Upper Egypt environment, especially since I love this world. But I would like to clarify an important thing, which is that I try as much as possible to diversify my work. Last year I was a doctor and a fashion designer in another series, and before that, I was a lawyer, and before that, I was a government official in the Ottoman era… What matters to me is to be in a good series that tells an interesting and meaningful story.
How do you see your cooperation with Egyptian writer Medhat Al-Adl?
Medhat Al-Adl is a great writer and a dear friend, and the lines between us are always open. He listens to the opinions of the actors, and when I and others have useful suggestions, he takes them seriously, but in the end, he writes details that are consistent with the drama he wants to present to the viewer. I have previously collaborated with Medhat Al-Adl in two important series, “Kesat Hob” and “Al-Sharawe Al-Kaliyya”, and this series is the third work that brings us together. In fact, I enjoy embodying characters from his dramas because they always carry social and human messages, as well as fun and suspense.
How do you see work with co-stars Nelly Karim and Ahmed Eid?
In this particular work, I cooperate for the first time with most of my co-stars Nelly Karim and Ahmed Eid, as well as Muhammad Fahim, Farida Seif El-Nasr, and Muhammad Lotfi. I previously cooperated with Kamal Abu Raya and Jumana Murad in previous works, but this is my first meeting with the majority of this wonderful cast. The atmosphere of the series proceeds with a lot of affection, intimacy, and smoothness, and at the same time with seriousness and high professionalism. Everyone wants to present their best, especially since we are working with a director who cares about details and character building, Mando El Adl.
What are the criteria on which you choose your works?
Every actor should benefit as much as possible from the conditions offered by the art industry, which is governed by certain directions, in order to present his best. Sometimes, I am offered works of a certain type, so I fear that I will become a prisoner of this type even if many feel that I am achieving success in them, bearing in mind that the luster of success in this type of role will dim with its continuous repetition, so I am always looking for something new and different in the works offered to me.
You said before that you wished to present the personality of “Ibn Khaldun”, why?
I really dream of presenting the figure of the scholar, judge, and author of the theory of political sociology “Ibn Khaldun”. This is because his life at that time was very interesting and exciting, and I could learn many lessons from it beyond imagination, and present it in a great series. This is regardless of the fact that historical series are always presented from the point of view of kings, princes, and commanders of armies. However, it is nice to present the series “Ibn Khaldun” from the point of view that he is a person who was able to establish the science of history, sociology, and politics because he sees these matters from a specific perspective.
Could you update us on the anticipated series about late Libyan king Idris Al-Senussi?
The writing has reached its final stages, and the filming of the series will start after Ramadan, God willing, and it will be one of the most important works for me.
Idris al-Senussi was a controversial character, so how do you see that?
We do not go back to history except to address a sensitive or problematic stage that each sees from his own angle and through his tendencies and sometimes his beliefs. We only address the historical personalities who played an influential role and thus changed a reality, so they had supporters as well as opponents. Readers of history books know this, and they know that even when the narrations agree on an incident, the disagreement between the narrators, analysts, and scholars of that incident is present and sometimes sharp, especially in our Arab world, because history is for us, and as I have said more than once, it has not become in the past, but still lives with us in our present and affects our opinions in our present and even our attitudes towards it. Of course, this applies to the royal era in Libya and to the personality of the Senussi king. The important thing is that we do not deal with history superficially and that we delve deeper into understanding it and understanding the positions of its people within the historical circumstance in which they lived and the options that were available to them. We cannot comprehend history with eyes that only see black and white, but rather with eyes that see a variety of colors and shades. Therefore, the text was written and revised more than once in an attempt to present a deep picture of Libya and its struggle for independence and building the Libyan state, which everyone agreed on, but they strongly disagreed on the way to implement it.
How do you see the Syrian drama today?
The Syrian drama suffers just as my homeland suffers because of the outbreak of war. Nevertheless, this drama remains a pride for the Syrian industries, but despite the production and marketing conditions that have become very difficult, there are still Syrian writers, directors, and actors trying hard to defend the Syrian drama and present good works of art, so that every year in recent years one or two remarkable works appear. However, this does not negate the existence of poor-quality works of art due to the intrusion into the profession by a number of illiterate producers who do not have any artistic ambition, and present works of art that harm this industry.
How do you see the film “The Priest”, why did it not succeed?
On the contrary, “The Priest” succeeded and I was honored and happy to participate in this experience. The box office is not always the criterion for judging artistic works. We have seen a number of cinematic films that achieved great success despite their modest level, and vice versa, as we followed cinematic works that were technically good and did not achieve the expected public success. As for the movie “The Priest”, I consider it an addition to my art history and the Egyptian cinema industry, because it touched on a modern and contemporary topic, which is making our personal information available as citizens through the Internet and social media, even our family and social correspondence and our private secrets are now on “servers” for certain people in the world. Whoever owns these sites owns the entire world. Therefore, the topic of the film was bold and important, and there is no doubt that there are countries struggling to obtain this information. There is an important thing that ordinary people do not pay attention to, but it is very dangerous, which is that whoever owns all these “servers” has all the information and is able to plan and manipulate people’s destinies.
How do you deal with social media?
Social media has facilitated many things in life so that today we are able to communicate with all people anywhere in the world. In the past, we had to travel outside the country in order to hold a business meeting, but now we can do this through “Video Calls” or applications to exchange Different ideas, and this is one of the positives of social media, while its negatives lie in the fact that it has become a place to spread hatred and decadence in the society. So, at a certain period, I boycotted social networking sites because I decided to maintain my good relationship with people after I felt that if I remained active on it, there would be disputes between me and some people, and therefore my view of them would become negative, so I moved away from it for a while and then returned to using it gradually because I am well aware how to use social media constructively.