The medical drama “Lahazat Harega” (Critical Moments) has already started rolling its cameras for its run into the third season. Produced by Dubai-based Outlook Entertainment , “Lahazat” is the first medical drama made in the Middle East.
The drama features many TV and movie notables donning the blue or green scrubs. The star cast includes TV and movie personalities such as Amr Waked, Mahmoud Abdel Moghny, and Bushra to name a few, while many like Youssra and Mona Zaki have appeared as guest stars. The second season introduced more talents such as Yosra el-Lozy and Ahmed Hatem.
The first season that aired in 2007 was directed by a team of eight, including Ahmed Saleh, Sherif Arafa, and Ahmed Mekki. Moving past the introduction and the hospital drama, the second season delved into the personal lives of the characters. The third season, said director Saleh, is meant to provoke questions regarding the psyche of the main characters, to see “how they behave, whom they (do not) love, and why.”
On a tour of the ‘hospital’ with Dettol-friendly tiles and vinyl floors, set director Tamer Ismail presents the elevator. While the numbers on the elevator display to up to five floors, most of the shooting for the drama involving 22 main characters in fact takes place on one floor.
The elevator itself has actually been a location for one episode in the drama, in which a woman goes into labor while stuck between two floors.
Medical instruments are passed from the roof to aid the doctors in the elevator. Meanwhile, on set the elevator’s removable panels allow shooting from different camera angles.
In another episode, director Ahmed Saleh reveals, an emergency occurs in an ambulance stuck in traffic. In the absence of medical instruments, an attendant performs “tracheotomy” by puncturing a patient’s throat with a pen in order to help him breathe.
“I put you in situations where you have to think,” says Saleh, who finds drama lies less in the medicine and more in the mind. Sensitive to comparisons with American TV series “ER” and “Grey’s Anatomy”, Saleh notes the medical aspect is “just a format.”
Nevertheless, medical experts guide the writing. While Saleh himself has no medical experience, skilled doctors guide the script and shooting of “Lahazat.” Credibility is an important aspect, even the fake blood used on set congeals like real blood on the floor.
Actors too are trained. “We are shown how to hold a scissor, and taught how to run a test,” says actor Yasser Galal. “I used to hate studying the sciences,” says an amused Galal, who plays Dr. Selim, a flirtatious but highly-skilled surgeon.
While mostly Egyptian, the cast also showcases characters from the Middle East. Ammar Chalak represents his country while playing a Lebanese doctor, Ibrahim, married to an Egyptian widow with a son. The drama tackles inter-cultural relationships as Ibrahim tries to negotiate his place as a doctor in Egypt, and also family tensions while he deals with his son being kidnapped.
Director Saleh has not yet included critical moments of the January 25 Revolution and its aftermath in the script for Season 3, but they may soon follow. “I’m not talking about politics, but about the human element,” said the director.
The fictional hospital is meant to find audiences all over the region, said Saleh, and “Lahazat” has already been translated in 17 different languages. Even as the second season draws to a close in mid-May, fans all over the Middle East can breathe easy. The doctors on television will still be around, at least for another season.
Visit http://www.lahazat-harega.com/ for the official website of the series.
Audiences in Egypt can view Season 2 of Lahazat Harega at 8.30 PM on Dubai TV, Sat through Thurs (repeats at 9am and 3pm).
Screen shot of "Lahazat Harega".