Razan & Khaled El Nabawy

Fashion Director Maissa Azab gets Khaled El Nabawy and Razan Maghraby, the two sexy superstars set to appear in romantic blockbuster Hassan Tayara, to cosy up in the kitchen and cook us up some very hot Valentine’s Day photos, while Enigma’s Travis Randall swaps recipes for love and success with this sizzling on screen duo…

I If it weren’t for the lights, cameras, kitchen showroom location and the fact that one of the star’s spouses was watching-on, they could have been any ordinary couple in the kitchen. Playfully tossing food at each other, threatening to slit each other’s throats with knives and stealing cheeky glances as they feed each other food, they were a picture of any real marriage. “There are no barriers between Razan and I,” says Nabawy, threatening her with a mischievous food fight. If they enjoyed themselves as much while making their latest film, Hassan Tayara, as they did in the kitchen today, then the on-screen couple have got a frolicking feast of fun for moviegoers this month.

The chemistry on and off screen is the embodiment of the ‘opposites attract’ cliché. Nabawy has appeared in epics such as Yousef Shahin’s The Emigrant and made the rare breakthrough to Hollywood as an Arab actor in Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven. He holds himself like a superstar, wearing professionalism and a clear and consistent public image like a well fitting suit. Razan is unpretentious and laid back.

She’s the fire to his cool and collected personality. Known throughout the Arab world as a wild child who redefined the ‘in your face’ presenting style adapted from the west, Razan brings spark to his steadiness; and these off screen personality polar opposites carry over in the film. Their characters are high society and lower middle class, VIP and average Joe. Hassan Tayara is the story of the so nick-named lawyer who becomes a mini-bus driver to support his family, and Malek (Razan) is the high society public figure and Cairo’s beloved TV presenter. Though their lives are seemingly lived in parallel universes, fate intertwines their paths and ensures they collide with a romantic boom.

“I’m so tired of every film getting packed with exploding cars and special effects and distracting from the love story in the background,” says Razan with a tone of utter disdain that love be so easily replaced with a car chase. “People are obsessed with action and violence, but we have enough of that in the Middle East. We need more love.” She hopes this romantic movie will mark a return to ‘classic’ romantic cinema. “This is a real love story that has both romantic love and the committed love of a family,” says Nabawy,

She’s the fire to his cool and collected personality. Known throughout the Arab world as a wild child who redefined the ‘in your face’ presenting style adapted from the west, Razan brings spark to his steadiness; and these off screen personality polar opposites carry over in the film. Their characters are high society and lower middle class, VIP and average Joe. Hassan Tayara is the story of the so nick-named lawyer who becomes a mini-bus driver to support his family, and Malek (Razan) is the high society public figure and Cairo’s beloved TV presenter. Though their lives are seemingly lived in parallel universes, fate intertwines their paths and ensures they collide with a romantic boom.

“I’m so tired of every film getting packed with exploding cars and special effects and distracting from the love story in the background,” says Razan with a tone of utter disdain that love be so easily replaced with a car chase. “People are obsessed with action and violence, but we have enough of that in the Middle East. We need more love.” She hopes this romantic movie will mark a return to ‘classic’ romantic cinema. “This is a real love story that has both romantic love and the committed love of a family,” says Nabawy, who adds.

“I love this film for the very real issues addressed.” Nabawy plays the dutiful man who sheds his pride and takes a job below his abilities. “It’s important to note that he gladly bears the responsibility for his mother and brother after his father dies. Hassan doesn’t wait to be what he wants. He steps up and works in the streets to protect his family. It’s not exciting but it’s equally powerful.”

Having graduated from the Academy of Arts in Cairo Nabawy says, “I was lucky to come from a very good family and I able to work in the filed that I studied, thank God.” He’s adamant his role sheds light on the sad situation many young Egyptian university graduates face. The film touches on nepotism, corruption and the struggle of the middle classes to attain their potential. At every step his character faces a cold shoulder and quiet back stage manoeuvres to block him from the life Malek lives.

Meanwhile Malak has some striking similarities to Razan’s real life personality. “We’re both TV presenters! Malek is very wise and romantic. Razan and Monica, who was my somewhat type-cast character in Harb Italia (The War of Italy), are not so wise. Intelligent but not wise, Monica and Razan are crazier in love,” she confesses with a slight giggle

Love has many languages and it seems that our stars speak it fluently, but in different tongues. To Nabawy, love is many things. “When we think about others or put their needs first, that is love.” Lowering his voice he shares the sadness of his ill brother. “When your brother is in a critical condition and you can’t sleep until you help him, this is love.” His own romantic story started when he randomly met his wife at the Cairo Film Festival a number of years ago. “She has a very good eye and vision. It’s also not easy to find a woman that is so intellectual. When we met, we just clicked, and now we’ve been married for five years.”

Love has no boundaries for Razan and is subject to chemistry and romance. “It’s a cliché that a star should date millionaire,” she says. “Forget it. Why should I throw happiness away for more money? I make my own money and I’m not going to eat 30 times a day.” Her loves have been of ‘average’ wealth but they all had something special that drew her in. Respectfully indignant to social or family pressure to ‘settle down’ she says, “I want my heart to skip a beat when I meet him. I see lots of my girlfriends selling their hearts away rather than giving them. I will fall in love and die in the arms of a man who is a rock. Otherwise I’ll always be a rolling stone, which is particularly tiring in our Arab society. Women in the Middle East find that process hard, so they settle down with whoever they have ‘now.’” Razan has created what she calls a ‘recipe’ with a value system of flavours from the West and Middle East. “I might seem too open for people who are conservative, but I’m a good girl and very Arab deep down.”

 

Although the vivacious starlet looks like she’s about to explode into Arab film, she hasn’t given up her first career as a presenter. She’ll be tackling big issues with an upcoming youth talk show. “The youth have a lot to say and I want to provide the platform,” she says with pride and anticipation. Meanwhile Nabawy will be playing the younger version of the role Omar Sherif will play in an epic tale about life and love called The Passenger. This film promises to make some waves and is one of the Arab world’s most anticipated films, set to be released this summer.

Yet all of that is some way off. First there is Valentine’s Day to deal with, and perhaps predictably, these two superstars are choosing to spend it very differently. Nabawy and his wife celebrate in classic celebrity style. “We choose a singer that we love, go to dinner and enjoy the evening together.” When asked for specific plans, he declined comment, but not because he’s generally cautious about putting his personal life on display but because, “It’s a surprise for my wife, and telling you would ruin the surprise.”

Razan, on the other hand is ‘praying’ for love this Valentine’s Day. Although this gorgeous star is the object of plenty of admiration by the opposite sex, she believes she is jinxed on Valentine’s Day. “I spend every year alone, either because the day inconveniently falls during London Fashion week or because I’ve just broken up or got in a fight. It’s been so long since I got a box of chocolates, flowers and a walk along the Nile …” then pauses and adds with exasperation “or a diamond ring – I wish!”

Between these ying and yang stars, we learn that love is worth waiting and working for. But whether you’re jinxed with loneliness or in the throws of love’s fast lane, this Valentine’s Day be sure to make some time to check out the hot new romantic film Hassan Tayara.