Farid Shawqi

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Farid Shawqi
Farid Shawki.jpg
Farid Shawqi
Born Farid Shawqi Mohammad Abduh Badawi
(1920-07-30)July 30, 1920
Died July 27, 1998(1998-07-27)
(aged 77)
Years active 1946–1996


Farid Shawqi Mohammad Abduh Badawi (Arabic: فريد شوقي محمد عبده بدوي‎) (July 30, 1920 in Cairo - July 27, 1998) known as Farid Shawqi (Arabic: فريد شوقي ‎) was an Egyptian actor, screenwriter and film producer. He acted in 361 films, 12 plays and 12 television series; wrote 22 film scripts; and produced 26 films.

He was also known as Malek El Terso ("The King of the Third Class" - a reference to his popularity among the poor, who bought third-class seats in movie theatres), as "Wahsh Ash shashah Al Arabiyah the Monster of the Arab Silver Screen" in honor of his various roles of beloved hero, as Farid Bay ("Sir Farid", an informal title of respect), and as Abu el-Banat ("father of all girls", a reference to his having five daughters and no sons).

In a career spanning almost 50 years, Shawqi starred, produced, or wrote the scenario of over 400 films - more than the films produced collectively by the whole Arab world - in addition to theatre, television and video plays. His popularity covered the whole of the Arab World, including Turkey where he acted in some films there, and directors always addressed his as ' Farid Bay' (Sir Farid) as a sign of respect. As he worked with over 90 Film directors and producers.

For the first ten years he typically cast as a villain. By the late 1940s his name alongside that of the late Mahmoud el-Mileegy guaranteed a box-office success. In 1950 he changed that image forever, playing the leading role in Ga'aloony Mujriman ("They Made Me a Criminal"), his own script in which he tackled the problem of homeless children and the first crime thus exposing the failure of government policy and the corruption of state run orphanages and young offenders institutions.

Disliked by the establishment, the film was later awarded the State Prize; Shawqi went on to collect 10 best actor awards in many festivals, and four other awards for his scripts in the next thirty years.

Critics referred to him as the "John Wayne" or "Anthony Quinn" of Egyptian cinema and of the Arabic speaking World", and to the masses he was the Beast of the Silver Screen, who championed the underdog, especially women, and the dispossessed using an effective mixture of cunning, physical strength, personal charm, and unbending principles, to overcome the wicked aggressors. With an illiteracy of over 80 per cent at the time, the "Screen Beast" personified the masses' dreams of defeating the wealthy, who were above the law thanks to an unjust class system.

Screenwriter Abd-el-Hay Adeeb once had to rewrite a scene in a film after it had been released: Shawqi's character was slapped on the back of the neck, which is a sign of contempt in southern Mediterranean countries; the cinema audience in the city of Assiut rioted in protest, destroying the building.

In 1969, Youssef Chahine's film al-Ardh ("The Land") ended with the main character being dragged to his death behind the horse of a corrupt police officer. Audiences called for the "Beast" - Shawqi - to come to his rescue, despite the fact that Shawqi did not appear in that film.

A number of critics spent a great deal of time discussing the phenomenon as it was clear that Shawqi lived in the psyche of the nation as an image greater than reality and he represented hope and implementation of justice during the totalitarian military rule in the 1950s and 60's. With the influence of Egyptian cinema on the whole of the Middle East, the "Beast of the Silver Screen" had a similar status in all Arabic-speaking nations, where the main entertainment was, and still to a large degree, Egyptian films.

Film producers and financiers called Shawqi - Malek el-Terso - or the King of the Third Class (Terso is an Egyptian slang word derived from the Italian word referring to the cheap third class seats in the cinema from which the bulk of the box office takings came). Shawqi was born in July 1920 in El Baghghala neighborhood of Cairo's popular quarter of Al-Sayyedah Zynab, where the majority of residents were the terso- film goers when Egyptian cinema started turning into a big industry. Shawqi worked as a civil servant as the Second World War broke out. He was given small parts in Ramsis Theatre group headed by Youssef Bay Wahby, then he worked with Anwar Wagdy doing small parts on the silver screen. He also formed a local theatre group `The National League of Acting' which included his young wife actress Zainab Abd-el-Hady whom he married in 1941, they had one daughter Mona. They were divorced four years later, when he married his second wife, dancer Saneya Shawqi, whom he also divorced in 1950.

By 1943 the NLA became The 20 Theatre as the members grew to 20 all became household names in Egyptian theatre and cinema for decades to come. The group specialized in presenting Chekov's plays, and Shawqi excelled in playing the leading parts - later on he loved to play classic parts in screenplays of novels by Nobel Prize holder Naguib Mahfouz. One of them was playing the role of Sultan in the film Bidaya wa nihaya.

With success in theatre, and small parts in films, Shawqi left his post at the civil service in 1946. Few months later the 20 Theatre became the nucleus of the Higher Institute of Drama. In 1947 he made his mark in the film “Mala’eka Fi Gohanam” ` Angels in Hell'. With his third wife, singer and actress Huda Sultan, whom he married in 1951, they made a famous partnership in more than 80 films. The marriage lasted 18 years and produced two daughters Maha and Nahed who is a successful film producer in her own right. He was working on a script for his daughter in film dealing with homeless young people just before he died.

In 1970, he married Soheir Turk, they stayed together until he died, she also gave him two daughters Rania and Abir.

He was survived by wife Soheir Turk and five daughters Mona, Nahed, Maha, Rania and Abir. His brother was the late General Staff of Egyptian Army Ahmad Shawqi. Farid's youngest daughter, Rania, is a well known actress. She has two children from husband Atef Awad, Fareeda and Malak. His other daughter from Soheir, Abir, is a film director with two children as well.

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