Mak­ing a case for OSN’s new show Qalb Al Adala

Emi­rati ac­tor Man­soor Al Feeli tells Saeed Saeed about the le­gal drama that is based on true events

The National - News - - ARTS & LIFESTYLE - Qalb Al Adala pre­miers on OSN Ya Hala Al Oula HD tonight at 8pm

An Emi­rati le­gal drama is set to shake up both in­dus­try and so­ci­etal ex­pec­ta­tions. Qalb Al Adala, which trans­lates to Heart of Jus­tice, pre­mieres on OSN Ya Hala Al Oula HD tonight.

Run­ning weekly, the 18episode sea­son fol­lows Abu Dhabi hot­shot lawyer Has­san (played by Man­soor Al Feeli) and his daugh­ter and re­cent le­gal grad­u­ate Farah (Fa­tima Al Taei) as they solve a series of cases di­rectly in­spired by real-life court pro­ceed­ings from the Abu Dhabi Ju­di­cial Depart­ment.

While the Ara­bic series is pro­duced by Im­age Na­tion Abu Dhabi and the Dubai-based Beelink Pro­duc­tion, Qalb Al Adala boasts a pi­o­neer­ing in­ter­na­tional flavour. The show’s cre­ators are the Os­carnom­i­nated di­rec­tor Wal­ter Parks (He Named Me Malala and Flight) and Emmy Award-win­ning screen­writer and tele­vi­sion pro­ducer Wil­liam Finkel­stein (L.A. Law and NYPD Blue).

In what is hailed as one of the first cross-cul­tural meth­ods of tele­vi­sion pro­duc­tion, the duo is re­spon­si­ble for pen­ning the scripts and plot­ting the episodes while the UAE-based crew from Im­age Na­tion Abu Dhabi and Beelink are tasked with trans­lat­ing them and adding lo­cal touches.

“This is a new model when it comes to me­dia terms, but it is an old model in the way that Abu Dhabi and the UAE have grown into the po­si­tion that they cur­rently oc­cupy,” says Michael Garin, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of Im­age Na­tion.

“The for­mula for suc­cess is to com­bine the best of in­ter­na­tional tal­ent with lo­cal re­sources and ex­per­tise. It is what makes the Louvre Abu Dhabi and what makes Eti­had and Emi­rates Air­lines suc­cess­ful,” he says.

The land­mark na­ture of this project is not lost to series star Al Feeli. A stal­wart of Gulf tele­vi­sion and drama, the ac­tor re­cently dipped his toes into the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket with a solid per­for­mance in last year’s Bol­ly­wood block­buster Dishoom along­side John Abra­ham and Varun Dhawan.

The ef­fi­ciency of the Qalb Al Adala set re­minded him of his maiden Bol­ly­wood out­ing, which was partly shot in the UAE. “Hon­estly, this pro­duc­tion ex­pe­ri­ence was highly pro­fes­sional and it went very smoothly,” he says. “And this was hard to achieve if you con­sider the fact we had just over 150 ac­tors par­tic­i­pat­ing in the series.”

Al Feeli knows those de­tails all too well. He was first en­listed to the series as cast­ing man­ager. How­ever, when Emi­rati star Habib Ghu­loom pulled out days be­fore the shoot­ing be­gan, Al Feeli was also tasked with tak­ing on the role of Has­san.

With Qalb Al Adala in­spired by real-life court cases, Al Feeli searched wide for act­ing tal­ents. “I got peo­ple from Iraq, Syria, Le­banon, the Philip­pines, Ethiopi­ans, Eritre­ans and even from Kaza­khstan,” he says. “I say this to you to stress the point that this show is not a show about Emi­ratis, it is ac­tu­ally a show about the UAE and we show that in this pro­duc­tion.”

In­deed, hints of that di­ver­sity is ap­par­ent in the first episode, which The Na­tional viewed last week, and fo­cuses on the case of a Le­banese man who sur­ren­ders him­self for run­ning over a pedes­trian late at night. Farah vis­its the man’s friends and as­so­ci­ates who range from var­i­ous parts of the Arab world. Such de­tail and the vary­ing ac­cents pro­vides a wel­come level of au­then­tic­ity of the pro­ceed­ings.

The sharply drawn scenes and the steady rhythm of the episode comes straight from Amer­i­can tele­vi­sion le­gal pro­ce­dural play­book, which was partly writ­ten by Finkel­stein.

On the lo­cal front, the show also tack­les is­sues faced by Emi­rati com­mu­ni­ties. One of the pro­gramme’s ma­jor sub­plots sur­rounds Has­san’s de­sire for his daugh­ter to take over the fam­ily firm. How­ever, Farah wants to es­cape her fa­mous fa­ther’s shadow and plot her own ca­reer path.

“When I first spoke about Farah’s qual­i­ties, it felt like I was talk­ing about my­self. Farah has vi­sion, and she is stub­born. She will do what­ever is needed to get the job done” says Al Taei.

“What I also find in­ter­est­ing about her is that she is a strong fe­male char­ac­ter who has a male role model, which is her fa­ther, and not her mother, which can usu­ally be the case in our cul­ture.”

Al Feeli is con­fi­dent the show will strike a chord with UAE au­di­ences due to the fresh­ness of the ma­te­rial. Per­haps, he says, peo­ple will also find it ed­u­ca­tional. “Some peo­ple don’t know how the le­gal sys­tem works, and what hap­pens in the court­rooms. This show can pro­vide an in­sight to that,” he states.

“Also each case re­lates to what is hap­pen­ing here. It re­lates to our way of life, our cus­toms and cul­ture. I hope that peo­ple find it in­ter­est­ing.”

OSN

Man­soor Al Feeli, left, and Fa­tima Al Taei play lawyers in the show Qalb Al Adala

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