Hisham Selim: The Pasha’s son

Soha Hesham , Saturday 1 Oct 2022

Actor Hisham Selim passed away last Thursday at the age of 64, after a long battle with lung cancer, prompting widespread, heartfelt grief among his colleagues and admirers.

Hisham Selim
Hisham Selim

 

Born on 27 January 1958, Hisham is the son of Saleh Selim, the star footballer named El Maestro who became president of Ahly sporting club. He graduated from the Collége de la Sainte Famille (Jésuites) and the High Institute of Tourism and Hotels in Cairo, and later also studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London.

His acting career took off when, at the age of 12, he contributed a memorable role to Hussein Kamal’s 1972 Embratoriyet Meim (Empire M), starring the great actor Ahmed Mazhar. Selim played the Lady of the Arab Screen Faten Hamama’s teenage son, who steals his mother’s cigarettes and sneaks his first kiss with the servant at a friend’s house. He starred alongside Hamama again in Said Marzouk’s iconic film Orydo Halan (I Want a Solution, 1975), which raised the issue of a woman’s right to divorce and led to changes in the personal status law.

Selim also starred in Youssef Chahine’s Awdet Al-Ibn Al-Daal (The Return of the Prodigal Son, 1976), alongside Lebanese singer Majida El Roumi as well as Mahmoud Al-Meleigi, Shokri Sarhan, Hoda Sultan and Soheir Al-Morshedy.

But perhaps he is best remembered for playing Adel Selim Al-Badry in the late screenwriter Osama Anwar Okasha’s phenomenally successful Ramadan television show Layaly Al-Hilmya (The Nights of Hilmya, 1987-1995), directed by Ismail Abdel-Hafez. Selim first appeared in the second season, as the son of the pasha Selim Al-Badry (played by the brilliant Yehia Al-Fakharany) and Nazek Hanem Al-Selihdar (a timeless role by Safeya Al-Emaari), with the drama revolving around the conflict between the urban artiscrat Al-Badri and the provincial landowner Soliman Ghanem (Salah Al-Saadani), whose own father died in prison because of Al-Badri’s father, set in the wake of the Egyptian Revolution of 1952.

Hisham Selim also starred in Yehia Al-Alami’s Tazwir fi Awraq Rasmiya (Forgery of Official Documents, 1984), featuring Mahmoud Abdel-Aziz, Mervat Amin, Iman Al-Bahr Darwish and Mushira Ismail, and played the role of Hisham Anis in Al-Rayya Al-Baydaa (The White Flag, 1988) – the story of a conflict between a female fishmonger turned tycoon and a former diplomat in Alexandria – written Okasha and directed by Mohamed Fadel, starring alongside Sanaa Gamil, Gamil Rateb and Somaya Al-Alfi.

Selim appeared with the late Omar Sharif in Hany Lasheen’s Al-Aragouz (The Puppeteer, 1989), along with Mervat Amin, Ahmed Khalil and Salwa Khatab. He also starred in Youssef Chahine’s Eskendrya Kaman wi Kaman (Alexandria Again and Again, 1990), together with Youssra, Taheya Kariouka, Zaki Fateen Abdel-Wahab, Amr Abdel-Geleil. Salah Zulfakar, Hussein Fahmy and Ragaa Hussein, as well as Sherif Arafa’s Ya Mehalabiya Ya (1991) – about an Oriental dancer who supports the underground reistance under the British occupation – alongside Laila Elwi, Ahmed Rateb and Ashraf Abdel-Baki.   

In theatre he starred in the play Sharei Mohamed Ali (Mohamed Ali Street, 1991), alongside the versatile performer Sherihan, with Farid Shawky, Al-Montasser Billah, Wahid Seif and Soheir Al-Barouni; and in the play Lama Baba Yenam (When Daddy Goes to Sleep, 2002), starring Youssra, Alaa Walieddine, Ashraf Abdel-Baki and Hassan Hosni, directed by Khaled Galal.

He participated in the famous television drama Arabisk (Arabesque: The Days of Hassan Al-Noamany, 1994), written by Okasha, directed by Gamal Abdel-Hamid, and starring Salah Al-Saadani, Hoda Sultan, Soheir Al-Morshedy and Hassan Hosny. The drama traces Hassan, an arabesque workshop owner living in a poor neighbourhood, his and his family’s and neighbours’ daily struggles.

In the late 1990s, Selim starred in a number of Ramadan television series like Hawanem Garden City (Garden City Ladies, 1997-1998), directed by Ahmed Sakr featuring a huge number of stars like Hussein Fahmy, Safeya Al-Emari, Abla Kamel, Madiha Youssry and others, as well as Imra’a min Zaman Al-Hob (A Woman from the Time of Love, 1998), another Okasha-Abdel-Hafez collaboration starring Samira Ahmed, Ahmed Khalil, Karim Abdel-Aziz, Abla Kamel and Shwikar.

In 1996, Selim took part in Magdy Ahmed Ali’s Ya Donia Ya Gharami (Oh Lovely Life), starring Laila Elwi, Elham Shahine, Hala Sedki and Hussein Al-Imam, about three female friends in an ongoing struggle with the social and economic conditions.

In the 2000s he starred in a number of films like Sherif Arafa’s comedy Al-Nazer (The School Principal, 2000), alongside the late comedian Alaa Walieddine, Ahmed Helmy, Mohamed Saad, Basma and Hassan Hosni, Enta Omry (You’re My Life, 2005), directed by Khaled Youssef, featuring Hani Salama, Menna Shalabi and Nelly Karim, Kheyana Mashrouaa (Justified Infidelity, 2006), starring Hani Salama, Somaya Al-Khashab, Mai Ezzeddine and Amr Saad, and Mohamed Ali’s Al-Awela fil Gharam (First Time Lover, 2007), starring also Hani Salama, Menna Shalabi, Dorra, Gamil Rateb and Ahmed Rateb.    

In the wake of the 25 January Revolution, Selim became the host for the talk show Hiwar Al-Qahira (Cairo Dialogue), a weekly programme featuring live discussions with guests on political, social and economic issues on Sky News Arabia in 2012.

In recent years he starred in TV dramas like Bein Alamein (Between Two Worlds, 2017), directed by Ahmed Medhat and featuring Tarek Lotfi, Lekaa Al-Khamisi and Amir Salah, and Ekhtefaa (Disappearance, 2018), directed by Ahmed Medhat, starring Nelly Karim, Mohamed Mamdouh and Basma. Also in 2018 he appeared as a guest of honuor in Ladayna Aqwal Okhra (We Have Further Information, 2018), directed by Mohamed Ali. He also starred in Amr Salama’s Tayei (2018), alongside Amr Youssef, Peter Mimi’s Ramadan TV series Kalabsh 3 (Handcuffs 3, 2019), alongside Amir Karara, as well Hagma Mortada (Offside, 2021), directed by Ahmed Alaa Al-Deeb and featuring Ahmed Ezz and Hind Sabri, based on Egyptian intelligence records.

Hisham Selim’s final appearance was in the film Mousa (2021), an action film directed by Peter Mimi, featuring Karim Mahmoud Abdel-Aziz, Eyad Nassar, Asmaa Abul-Yazid, Salah Abdallah and Ahmed Hatem.  

Selim’s brother Khaled is married to superstar Youssra, who wrote movingly about her brother-in-law and colleague. Selim married twice. He is survived by two daughters and a son, whose transgender identity Selim recently came out in support of.


*A version of this article appears in print in the 29 September, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

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