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Where street savvy meets web savvy

Where street savvy meets web savvy

If you’ve ever been up close and personal with Beirut’s moped-driving delivery guys, then the new web series ‘Shankaboot’ might bring back some memories.

March 17, 2010 6:04 by

A compelling new Arabic web drama, Shankaboot, is a five minute indulgence that’s proving the talk of the town among 20-somethings in Beirut.
The online film – said to be a first in Arabic – takes us on a wild tour of Beirut, following the streetwise Suleiman, a teenage delivery boy. A little bit of an entrepreneur – and a lot of a hustler – Suleiman makes a living delivering everything from toilet paper to lampshades, zigzagging his way through the narrow back streets of Lebanon’s capital. Along for the ride are the beautiful Ruwaida and mysterious Chadi, along with a host of other memorable characters.

“It’s about how people make do – how working people hustle and get by. It’s about portraying the everyday struggles of characters from classes of society that are not usually highlighted in entertainment,” explains Sasseen Kawzally, actor and location manager.

“We wanted to appeal to young Lebanese and Arab viewers – addressing social issues from a humanistic perspective. For the Middle East region, this medium – the web series – hasn’t really been done in the Arab world. Shankaboot is the first of its kind – and it’s in Arabic,” he added.

Amin Dora, the director of the web series, says that it’s “a drama in the fuller sense of the word.”

“We want to elicit a full range of emotions in the viewer – humor and sadness and social tensions. It’s all part of an attempt to give the story an authentic feel and an upbeat rhythm.”

It seems they’ve succeeded on both counts. The rhythm is so upbeat that – for those of us that live in Beirut and have been up close and personal with drivers on Mopeds – the frenetic pace of the filming achieves the aimed-for authenticity.

Realism is also achieved by the natural feel of the street scenery. Instead of a parade of clichéd, in-your-face landmarks, Shankaboot invites viewers to experience gritty, authentic takes on the city. The filming captures a very raw perspective, drawing you into Beirut’s shortcuts and back-alleys known only to the savviest delivery boys. It’s about as authentic as it gets.

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