The zealous editor, the beautiful Nada, knows what all the fuss is about. In fact, she knows more than anyone else. Just ask her. Fully engaged in the pursuit of justice, Nada marks her enemies with broad strokes of red. Her flowing black hair always in place, she never looks up from her work to notice that the revolution is lagging so far behind her. The perfect antagonist to Omar, she is the boss even though Omar is the grandson of the publisher. This duet is brilliantly captured by Shahin.
There is one person in the cast of "Al Khan" to whom Nada listens for advice, "The Big Falafel." Nada's Obi-Wan Kenobi sits hour after hour on the streets of Cairo in Ghandi-like attire, but with a lot more meat on his bones.
There is Yunan Salib, the Coptic photoblogger and friend of Omar, forty years old and still living with his mother. He struggles to find love, though love is irrelevant. He straddles tradition and progressive ideals, rarely escaping the expectations of his parents. This is why he takes pictures, I suppose. He can see what's important, but he cannot seem to put words to his frustration.
Dr. Anwar, a conservative Muslim, lends the traditionalist's voice to the mix. Not particularly introspective, to Anwar tradition is, well, just tradition. His conversations with the spiritual leaders give readers a glimpse of the struggle between pragmatism and traditional values. Shahin uses these dialogues as commentary on traditional Muslim values, juicy stuff for the contemplative mind.
There are others, many of whom have convenient bit parts in the drama that Al Khan both reports and creates in Egyptian society.
Rise is political satire at its best. The caricatures match the characters beautifully. Nothing is left untouched. From religion to love, gang rape to premarital sex, Ramadan to prodigalism, Tarek Shahin covers the gamut.
Near the surface at all times is what amounts to a fair warning to heads of state in countries like Syria where regime change is inevitable. Volatile topics are portrayed satirically with much at stake for the creative voices like Shahin. With no holds barred, while recognizing the power of graphic creations accompanied by selective words, state's do change, and people do win their freedom.
At about 30 years of age, what does Tarek Shahin have in mind for his next project? No doubt, it will be rich, funny, and truthful, so pay attention.