Basma is an Egyptian actress who started her career with several films and series and gained a loyal fan base. However, she took a break from the scene when she was at the peak of her popularity. She ventured into Hollywood and achieved success, but soon came back to her homeland, and starred in several works, the latest of which was the film “Awlad Harim Karim”, which is the sequel of an earlier film she appeared in nearly 18 years ago. Daily News Egypt interviewed Basma to find out more about the film.
Tell us about your new film “Awlad Harim Karim”. How did you feel about being part of the sequel of the film that was a huge hit in 2005?
Basma: I was very happy and excited about it because I was curious to see what happened to my character (Dina Mandour) 18 years after her story in the first part. The character (Dina) is one of my favourite characters, and I also wanted to work with the great director Ali Idris, who is a master of comedy. I consider this film one of the classics of modern Egyptian cinema.
Some people say that sequels do not usually achieve the same success as the original films. Do you agree?
Some may agree or disagree about making sequels, but from my point of view, as long as there is a possibility to make a sequel, there is no problem at all as long as the plot allows it. I am sure that the audience is eager to know what happened to the characters in their lives after 18 years have passed.
How did you respond to the anger of Amy, the daughter of late actor Talaat Zakaria, who rejected the idea of making a sequel to the film in which her father starred?
I thought that Amy was confused about the matter, and thought that there was a new actor who would replace her father. However, the new story that we present does not include a continuation of Talaat Zakaria’s role. In the film, we are showing our lives 18 years after the events of the first part. Of course, some characters have passed away and other characters have entered our lives because that is how life goes.
What about the new stars participating in the film? How was your experience working with them?
They were wonderful, diligent, and talented. I expect a great artistic future for all of them. They brought a lot of energy and freshness to the film. The rule of life is for this generation to learn from us after we learn from the generations that preceded us.
What about the changes that occurred in your character in the second part? How did she evolve over the years?
There are no major changes, but I can say that in the first part, Harem Karim, I did not have many social relationships and I was a little shy in building social relationships with my colleagues, but now the situation has changed and I am more confident and outgoing. I have built good relationships with all the heroes of the work.
What are the similarities between your real personality and Dina Mandour’s character in the movie?
There is no dramatic character that I have played in my artistic career that was not taken from me, and all of my roles contained a part of my true personality. For your information, my acting roles also formed a large part of my real personality, and the character of Dina Mandour has many characteristics of my real personality, especially in the first part that we presented in 2005. She is smart, ambitious, loyal, and funny.
Do you worry about the box office and competition in cinema, and do you consider it a proof of success and stardom?
Not at all, I do not consider revenues to be a measure of stardom; because there may be stars whose works do not achieve high revenues, even though the work is wonderful and complete. It is a distribution process that should not concern the artist in general, as there are many factors and circumstances that affect the competition… In the end, what matters to me is the opinion of the public and critics.
You are one of the few Egyptian artists who oppose social media and keep a distance from it. What is the reason behind your stance?
I simply can no longer tolerate the destructive attacks and criticism that I face all the time on social media. And here I do not mean constructive criticism, which I have no problem with. On the contrary, I am one of the artists who very much appreciate and understand the idea of criticism. But social media has become a platform for spreading rumors, lies, and insults. It has also begun to distort our conversations and publish them according to their whims. Therefore, I stayed away from television and print interviews for a long time so that my words would not be taken out of context or twisted. I also have a problem reconciling with social media, and I am unable to come to an understanding with them, so I always stay away from them and use them within very narrow limits.
What changed in your personality after your absence from the artistic scene for years while you were at the height of your brilliance?
My personality has completely changed, and I have gained more experience as well. There are different criteria through which I choose roles now than the ones I set for myself at the beginning of my career. I have become more selective and careful about the quality of the work I participate in.
What was the real reason behind your absence from art for years?
The reason is that I traveled to America and lived there for years, and then I became pregnant with my daughter Nadia, who needed great care and attention at this stage. And I found that she was the most important thing in my life and that I, as a mother, must be up to motherhood and responsibility.
Do you regret your absence and feel that you missed out on some opportunities?
No, I did not regret it, because in any case I benefited from my absence. I took many acting workshops in America. These workshops greatly benefited me and honed my talent. My outlook on many things also changed. I participated in one of the American series, “Tyrant”, and achieved great success in my first international experience, which was admired by the work team and the audience. I was also studying in New York City, but all the time my daughter Nadia was at the forefront of my priorities and choices.
So, you reached the international level by acting in America, and yet you decided to return to Egypt?
Yes, I participated in the American series “Tyrant”, and it was a wonderful opportunity for me to showcase my skills and talent to a wider audience. But filming required me to travel to more than one place. I traveled for three months to Budapest, Hungary. This made me sad that I could not see my daughter, and this was very difficult for me. So I decided to give up international fame. She laughed, saying, “Motherhood made me lose the Hollywood dream, but I do not regret it, because my daughter was, is, and will remain more important than everything.”
Is it possible to repeat the experiment after your daughter has grown up and become self-reliant?
If I am offered a worthy role, I will certainly try the experience again. But for your information, my features and my accent also put me in a certain mold in the Hollywood experience, and this did not excite me. But if I find a different and new job and my role in it is not stereotypical, I will try it out.
What changed in Basma after she became a mother?
Everything changed, I became more flexible and I learned to do the things my daughter likes even if I don’t like them. I began to enjoy being a mother in all its details.