New series ‘Baghdad Central’ a tense thriller told with Arabs in mind

Wed, 2020-02-12 10:34

DUBAI: “We are rarely in Western cinema and media as the
protagonists,” said actor Waleed Zuaiter, who plays the lead
character in “Baghdad Central,” the new thriller that aired on
streaming service Starzplay on Feb. 12.  

Set in 2003, when Baghdad was occupied by US-led coalition
forces for six months, the thriller follows Iraqi ex-policeman
Muhsin Al-Khafaji who finds himself embarking on a wider quest for
justice in a society that has become lawless.

Al-Khafaji, who was fired after the US invasion, worked under
former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s regime. The show, which
was shot in Morocco, revolves around Al-Khafaji and his two
daughters after he loses his wife and son.

Zuaiter, who was born in the US and raised in Kuwait, told Arab
News that when he first read the script, he was in “deep
depression… I wasn’t in the right place. My father had passed
away and so I had a very negative filter on everything.

The movie is set in 2003, when Baghdad was occupied by US-led
coalition forces for six months. (Supplied)

“I had also been skeptical about any writing coming from the
West about the Middle East, because my experience had been that
it’s rare that they get it right and a lot of times it is very
stereotypical and so my first thought was ‘oh it’s another
stereotype’ or ‘another accented Middle Eastern
character’,” he added. 

It was his wife, however, who pushed him to reconsider the role.
“The second time I read it I was like ‘wow I really connect
with this character’ and then I took another read and I was like
‘wow this is everything I’ve ever wanted to play and I was very
proud of it,” Zuaiter said. 

Waleed Zuaiter plays the role of Muhsin Al-Khafaji, an Iraqi
ex-policeman. (Supplied)

British-Egyptian actress July Namir plays one of Khafaji’s
daughters in the show. Her character, Murooj, is “wise beyond her
years… she is extremely intellectual for her age.”

Despite her kidney disease, Murooj does not want to be an extra
burden on her father who “has lost everything,” Namir
said. 

The young actress also believes “Baghdad Central,” which was
originally a novel by the author Elliott Colla, addresses the
stereotype of the father-daughter relationship in the Arab
world. 

British-Egyptian actress July Namir plays one of Khafaji’s
daughters in the show. (Supplied)

“In the West, we have this perception of the Middle East and
daughter-father relationships that the father is extremely
aggressive and tells you off all the time… and here, actually,
you have a much more softer, if anything, relationship. So, it is
really interesting to showcase that these relationships do
(exist),” Namir said.

When speaking to the executive producer of the show Kate
Harwood, she said she was looking for new ways to tell a story.

“As a producer… this immediately felt like a really
interesting perspective because we’ve been fed so many stories of
Iraq 2003 and the protagonists were always American or British. So,
to read this novel, which had a totally different perspective, was
very refreshing.”

Main category: 

Source: FS – All – Interesting – News
New series ‘Baghdad Central’ a tense thriller told with Arabs in mind