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Actor Assar Yasin takes us behind the scenes of his new Ramzan hit ̵6;Battalion 101’

DUBAI: Egyptian actor Aser Yassin had heard stories. Over the past decade, Wilayat Sinai – a radical terrorist organization aligned with Daesh – has turned Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula into hell on earth for many as they carried out attack after attack, killing hundreds as the group attempted to reshape the country. image. Those who stood in their way and eventually contained the threat were soldiers from Battalion 101 of the Egyptian Army.

Yasin had heard the stories, but how could he know how deep their sacrifice was? Their struggles and victories were reduced to news briefs and statistics. No one had really figured out what really happened there.

“Our country does not realize the sacrifices made in this field – how much blood they shed to protect their country. I feel it is my duty to be a part of telling those stories, so the world knows what really happened,” Yasin told Arab News.

Assar Yassin and Amr Youssef in ‘El Ketiba 101’. (supply)

With “Battalion 101” airing during Ramadan on MBC Shahid, that story will finally be told. For Yassin, who stars as a military intelligence officer tasked with undermining Wilayat Sinai – and procuring the knowledge necessary to do it, what first took him into character was his humanitarian The real stories of the stories needed to be learned, so that he could give it to all his series.

“What touched me the most while making this show is that, in the intelligence world, you never hear these stories because people can’t tell them without putting other people’s lives at risk. You cannot say how an intelligence officer got martyred while protecting his country. His children may know he is a hero, but they cannot put it out in front of the world because their father died on a secret mission,” Yasin says.

“I met some families, and they know their fathers were men. They know he was their champion. But they cannot tell the media. But I can mold those fathers into my character. I can’t say their names, I can’t say the details, but I can put their souls in it, in appreciation of those who died secretly fighting these evils,” Yasin continues.

3 asser yassin r on the set of el keteeba 101

Asser Yassin (R) on the sets of ‘El Ketiba 101’ (Supplied)

While Yasin is an accomplished action star, his character in the series is, for the most part, not one to dodge bullets or swing from helicopters on the battlefield. Yasin meets with officers to better understand the intelligence world, learning about the details of things like interrogations, discovering that many of the tropes present in most films and television are pure fiction.

“It’s all in the details. There are no fans or distractions in the room, no two-way mirrors. The setting is not nearly as theatrical. Typically, the officer, for example, is seated behind a desk in a room that As basic as you can get, with only a few shades of gray because it’s psychologically important,” says Yassin.

After diving headlong into details, the challenge for Yasin was to dramatize this world. While there was so much dedication to telling the story as it really happened, and following the events to properly honor those who went through those situations, it was important to note that the show was being made for an audience. To be entertained, not to study as part of the history curriculum.

asser yassin l prepares to shoot a scene for el keteeba 101

Aser Yassin (L) prepares to shoot a scene for ‘El Ketiba 101’. (supply)

“We certainly had a responsibility to give a fair image of what we were portraying. We have a lot of facts to give, but we couldn’t just be informative, we had to be engaging, we also had to make it an Egyptian drama. It can be a big challenge,” says Yasin.

Yassin worked closely with the writers and supervisors, including men from the army who were on set as consultants, to ensure that the audience was always first and foremost in his mind.

“The question we’ll ask ourselves is, ‘Can’t we talk about that part? Can we simplify the terminology?’ If we didn’t, it could have been overwhelming. People don’t care how you build a rocket, they care whether the rocket is going to fly or not and where it’s going to fly. When you focus on that, then you have something worthwhile for people to watch,” he says.

Yasin also did this by focusing on his character, Khalid, who learned about several intelligence officers, which was also ripe for drama.

“Khaled is a man who controls everything very efficiently. He gives you the feeling that he’s always awake, he’s always around, and he can be in two places at once, Says Yasin.

“However, what made him work as a character is not the high level of skill he has. Yes, he is always doing his job right—he never makes a mistake. But that doesn’t mean things will always work out. Sometimes you can fix everything and things still don’t go the way they planned, and their frustration in that gap was fascinating to explore,” Yassin continues.

Starring alongside Yassin is Amr Youssef, who became one of Egypt’s biggest stars after his turns in projects such as “Sons of Rizk”, 2015’s “The Prince” and the highly regarded 2016 Ramadan hit “Grand Hotel”. .

“Amr and I have known each other for a long time, but we’ve never worked together. It’s been really fun, because we have a great chemistry and we’re becoming really better friends as we take on this challenge together.” I can see a lot of collaborations happening in the future, as, even though we are on similar levels, we are completely different types, which makes for an interesting contrast,” says Yassin.

Everyone involved was interested in getting the story right, which included breaking with the usual structure of Ramadan series – they avoided stretching it to the standard 30 episodes, instead keeping to 20, so that the story could be as it should be. Should, no more.

“It’s a lot better for everyone involved. The quality is better, and you can focus more on the production rather than rushing things. It’s still tight, but compared to the torture of hitting 30 episodes that Night after night would circulate, the pain much more palpable,” says Yassin.

Mainly, though, as Yassin talks to us from the set in the final days of filming, he’s most focused on how the real story resonates with audiences now that they can finally learn the truth .

“I hope people can appreciate the people who died, and the people who are still putting their lives at risk. That’s what touches me most about all of this. I feel sorry for the children of those fathers.” Thinking of those who are gone now, and I hope people watching at home think of them too, and how much they gave so that they can watch a series like this in the comfort of their homes after so many years.”