Movie Review

Fawzia’s Secret Recipe (2008)

Yesterday while returning from Singapore to Chennai on SQ flight I saw this Egyptian movie “Khaltet Fawzeya” (Fawzia’s Secret Recipe). Hollywood and Kollywood movies are always there, but if you are lucky you get to watch wonderful hand-picked movies in Flight Entertainment and most often Singapore Airlines comes with good selections. The movie was described as “Fawzia is a poor woman, who has a magical, secret recipe for achieving happiness in life. She marries five men and lives with her large family in her small home”. The movie didn’t disappoint & was true to this description as well.

The first few scenes start off on a high comedy note, with Fawzia shouting in the midnight complaining about her present husband, then the whole neighbourhood coming to her support and she demanding and getting Divorce from her husband. She then asks the next man to help her to marry her and the whole sequence repeating for 4 times. The story happens entirely in a small Egyptian neighbourhood (though it’s a slum it is clean and friendly, no gangsters or dark lanes) where Fawzia who has been divorced four times live with all her kids alone in a small house of her own. Each Thursday all her former husbands join for a family dinner bringing with them gifts and foods, each father taking care of his Son/Daughter. All her former husbands admire Fawzia for her strong will, caring nature and they show true affection and respect to her after divorce, she calls them affectionately as her brothers!. Fawzia has earned the love and respect of her small locality, she helps the ladies to prepare Jam in her house as a community activity, then distributing them free to kids around the graveyard, takes care of a fallen from fame dancer, a single lady friend of hers who is struggling to live after her love dies. Fawzia’s fifth husband learns her liking for a private bathroom (now all of them sharing a community bathroom), constructs a private one for her but authorities demolish it for they lack money/power.

The movie is directed by Egyptian Director Majdy Ahmed Ali, and Ilham Shaheen (the main cast who did the Fawzia character) has done a great performance in bringing out a down-to-earth practical lady with a strong will. Her will is tested by events and deaths (of her former husband, her good friend ‘dancer’, her first son) but after initial pain and sorrow, she overcomes them with resilience. The movie has many small fine touches by the director, like the scene where two men driving into their street seeing Fawzia’s large family eating together mistaking it for a Ramadan community dinner and joining them without being asked or asking; the last scene where all her former & present husband join together in building a beautiful bathroom (again!) for Fawzia with each one of them bringing something special to it; a wealthy rich lady leaving a flower bouquet in the grave of her loved one, then immediately the kids around picking it up and selling it; when Hood (fifth husband) complains that Fawzia’s mother didn’t come to their marriage, Fawzia countering that his sister too didn’t come.

Overall a comedy movie but an undertone message about how to take on life as it comes and how to care for others around you. Don’t miss watching this fine cinema. You can see a trailer for the movie (in Arabic without subtitles) here.

Apart from this movie, the other International Movies from the KrisWorld listings that I was interested in watching were: Two Girls from Egypt, I love Hong Kong, 20 Cigarettes & Outside the Law. I hope I watch those movies soon.


Also published on Medium.

1 Comment

  • Just to let you know that I also watched this film on Singapore Airlines, flying from Singapore to London on 2 June, and I loved it! I started it quite late in the flight and so unfortunately didn’t get to see the ending (I only got to the bit where the first bathroom was demolished); I’ve never been on a long flight before when I wished that the flight was a bit longer! So thanks to your blog I now know how it ends.
    best wishes, Annabel